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Why Limestone Greenway developer is withdrawing his application from the city
Denial of sewer for upscale residential and commercial complex forces rethinking of plan
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The Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board votes to approve the annexation request of a large mixed-use development off of Limestone Parkway in Gainesville, on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. The developer has since asked to have its application withdrawn. - photo by David Barnes

The developer for a mixed-use complex at the intersection of Limestone and Jesse Jewell parkways has requested to withdraw the application with the city of Gainesville while he re-evaluates his plans.

Problems with access to sewer service for the residential portion of the development have made the project “not viable,” according to Limestone Greenway.

Gainesville’s Planning and Appeals Board had previously approved the annexation and zoning request for up to 189,400 square feet of restaurant, retail, office and hotel space on an almost 34-acre lot. The request was scheduled to go before the Gainesville City Council on Tuesday, but now the council will be voting on whether to approve the withdrawal.

The lot, which is currently vacant, is located near Gainesville Middle School and the Frances Meadows Aquatic Center.

The total size of the Limestone Greenway property is 78 acres, but the remaining 44 acres will stay in Hall County rather than be annexed into the city, according to an email that developer Wendell Starke sent to city and county officials on June 28. Starke hopes to use that county land for a residential development, according to the email.

The county is expecting an application soon.

According to the email, Gainesville declined to provide sewer service to the portion of the property that would remain in the county, a decision Starke said the company accepted. However, without sewer service, the residential portion of the development, which would have both apartments and single-family homes, would not be viable, Starke said.

Starke said in the email that he plans to continue to work with the city and find a solution so the development can move forward.

The proposal had originally included a total of 252 apartments and 33 single-family homes, but at the June 12 Gainesville planning board meeting, it was announced that the request had been changed to only include commercial uses. The planning board approved the amended request.

The Gainesville City Board of Education submitted a letter to the planning board in April expressing concerns about the density of the development. Starke addressed those concerns in his email to city and county officials, saying that “luxury apartments,” with rental rates of $1,750, have less transient residents than less expensive apartments.

According to the email, “the proposed future development of an affluent neighborhood has been a strong selling point” to targeted retailers, which include Apple, Trader Joe’s and The Container Store. Starke compared the proposed development to Avalon in Alpharetta.

Councilmembers will vote on the withdrawal at their 5:30 p.m. meeting Tuesday at the Public Safety Complex, 701 Queen City Parkway.


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