Update, April 13: Traffic concerns and negative public feedback led the Lula Planning Commission to recommend denial April 13 of a proposal to construct 36 townhomes on a 4-acres of property between Maiden Lane and Homer Highway.
The board’s vice chairperson Shannon Jenrette said that while the 5980 Moon Drive area is a “good place” for future development, Norton Capital Inc.’s proposal could add to existing traffic problems.
“There is a (large) amount of traffic in that small area … and in the mornings that traffic is already pretty bad where the train comes across,” Jenrette said. “It’s a good place for something to be developed there, but this, I think the traffic is going to present a really big issue.”
Wayne Clanton, also a board member, said the public feedback he received about the proposal was “mostly negative” with residents expressing their own concerns about traffic issues.
The board’s recommendation will head to Lula City Council, which has the final say. The City Council’s next meeting in May has yet to be scheduled.
Previous story: A small community of townhomes with white picket fencing and front porches could begin going up in Lula this year.
Frank Norton Jr., CEO of The Norton Agency, recently applied for the rezoning of a 4-acre piece of property located across from downtown Lula, on the other side of the railroad tracks between Maiden Lane and Homer Highway.
On Tuesday, April 6, the rezoning was tabled until the following week by the town’s planning commission for further discussion.
Norton, who owns a farm in Lula, said he has been enamored for some time with the historical character and potential of Lula. By bringing this small neighborhood to the town, Norton said he hopes to help fulfill the demand for “affordable quality rental homes.”
“It (Lula) has so much potential, and it needs attention,” he said. “It needs a strong renewal of all the historical houses.”
Ncredible Properties, a residential development and investment arm of Gainesville-based The Norton Agency, intends to build a “historic character village” around a central park, similar to the Liberty Midland units at the corner of High and Grove streets in Gainesville. The plan involves constructing 36 rental townhomes, which are free-standing and encompass 1,360 square feet with 18-by-8-foot front porches.
Norton said the rental prices would range from $1,250 to $1,300 a month for a two-bedroom, 2.5 bathroom townhouse. He said the neighborhood’s target demographic involves young adult professionals including teachers, Kubota engineers and public safety personnel.
The homes would have two equal-sized bedrooms, closets and bathrooms on the top floor, and the ground floor would have a kitchen and open living space. The kitchen would include granite countertops and an island structure with USB ports. Each townhouse would also have a working fireplace and half bathroom on the first level.
Norton added that the homes would be positioned among mature trees, and the structure’s back patios would overlook a park equipped with firepits, grill stations and a playground. Instead of residents parking in front driveways, several concentrated parking areas would be placed in the neighborhood within a short walking distance from the homes.
If the Lula Planning Commission approves the rezoning, Norton said he anticipates starting the first phase of construction in the fall of 2021.
“I think we’ve designed something very compatible with the character of Lula past and Lula future,” he said.