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Thompson Mill Road plans: Residents want more shopping, no more houses
Village at Deaton Creek would have homes, offices, stores
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An outdoor shopping mall accompanied by offices and homes is planned at the Village at Deaton Creek active adult community off Thompson Mill Road.

Developer Vintage Communities filed Friday for state approval of the commercial portion of the Village at Deaton Creek, a residential community in southern Hall County that will eventually have 1,200 homes for people ages 55 and older.

The Georgia Mountains Regional Development Center must review the project because of its size and potential impact on the area.

Eric Masaschi, vice president of Vintage Communities in Lawrenceville, likened Thompson Mill Village at Deaton Creek to The Forum in Norcross, a mixed-use development including shopping, restaurants and office space.

The first section of Thompson Mill Village will be anchored by a grocery store, probably a specialty store similar to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, Masaschi said. Retailers will include national brands, as well as locally owned boutiques.

Later phases will include three- and four-story townhomes with garages, mansion-like condos, a community park and amphitheater, shops, restaurants, cafes and offices.

The live-work-play concept is similar to Town Center in Suwanee, but on a smaller scale, Masaschi said. Thompson Mill Village is designed as an urban village with walkable, tree-lined streets. The average visitor stays 3« hours at similar developments, Masaschi said.

"We’re not trying to create a new Braselton, but we do think this will be a new epicenter people will want to go to," Masaschi said.

Thompson Mill Village will be located between the existing Thompson Mill Road (Ga. 347) and the new road when it is realigned. The final phase will be across the highway from the new 400-bed hospital planned by Northeast Georgia Health System. Enough of the road will be constructed by the health system by the time the development opens to allow access.

Vintage Communities hopes to break ground in late 2008, with the first buildings begun in early 2009. The overall project could be finished by 2015, according to plans.

Thompson Mill Village will be 40 percent in Hall and 60 percent in Gwinnett. Sewer will come from Hall County’s Spout Springs Reuse Facility.

When it is complete, the village would have 424,200 square feet of retail, 359,200 square feet of offices and 657 residences.

It’s the residences that bother some Village at Deaton Creek homeowners, said Walter Scott, president of the community’s Forum Club. While people may be excited about the shopping and restaurant possibilities, Scott said the traffic that comes along with it is a problem.

"I do not feel the infrastructure is there, nor do I feel like the infrastructure will ever be there to handle the residential load," Scott said.

Vintage Communities presented plans to Village at Deaton Creek residents in December, and the density of the residential portion was a concern expressed by several people, resident Mary Smith said. While the upscale design may bring higher property values, "It just seems like too much, too many, too close," Smith said.

The residences in Thompson Mill Village at Deaton Creek will not be age-restricted like the rest of the Village at Deaton Creek, which is a Del Webb "active adult" community. That means school bus traffic and more congestion, Smith said.

"That would probably bring more children to the community, and we moved here to get away from that," she said.