JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – If you were wondering if the new-home market has rebounded, developer Warren Jolly just sent a resounding yes with his plans to build a 224-acre gated community at Bell Road and Medlock Bridge Road just south of Technology Park.
It is easily the largest residential development in several years for Johns Creek, and will be a “development of regional impact,” which means it will have to get clearance from the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority. Final say will come from the Johns Creek City Council.
Jolly, president of the Providence Group of Georgia LLC, said he plans to build 646 homes in a phased development called Bellmoore that will take 10 years to complete. The homes will range in price from the mid-$400,000s to more than $800,000, with an average price in the $500,000 to $750,000 range.
The homes themselves will be 2,500 square feet to 5,000 square feet with lot sizes of 4,000 square feet to 15,000 square feet.
“We will build about $30 million a year in new homes,” Jolly said.
The plan was previewed March 14 to the Johns Creek Community Association Community Zoning Information Meeting, which had about 25 homeowners in attendance including HOA officers from the surrounding communities.
Real estate attorney Nathan V. Hendricks, speaking for the project, said it is a community unit plan (CUP) that has been submitted to the city for analysis. The project will have a density of 2.88 units per acre. The city Comprehensive Land Use Plan calls for a maximum of three units per acre.
The property is part of the Deen-Day family acreage that is on the north side of Bell Road and directly behind the Johns Creek United Methodist Church.
Hendricks said key qualities the development will have include:
• A mandatory homeowner association that will be responsible for all landscaping and grounds maintenance.
• Two pools and an eight-court tennis amenity.
• A 10,000-square-foot clubhouse.
• A 5-acre natural park.
• Around 70 acres of green space throughout the property.
The two greatest concerns of the public were the effect on schools in the area and traffic, with traffic being the greater of the two.
Almost all of the questions centered on morning commuter traffic worsening and traffic safety at Medlock and Bell Road, and at Bell Road and Boles Road.
As for schools, Jolly said the target buyer would be downsizing older homeowners whose children are grown. While this did actually placate concerns, the neighbors moved on to traffic issues.
Perhaps the one element that Jolly had the most control over was the proposal by the city to create a secondary road that would connect Bellmoore on the northwest edge of its property and the Methodist church to Technology Park via Technology Circle.
This would provide Bellmoore residents access to Medlock Bridge without getting on Bell Road. It would also provide an alternate route for parents bringing their children to the church’s preschool.
“We want to provide that connectivity because we know it will be as important to our future residents as it is to you,” Jolly told the homeowners.
To that end, Jolly revised the location of the tennis courts to allow for dedication of right of way for the proposed road.
But that road is just a proposal. Residents wanted to know what would be the effect of another 1,200 cars potentially pulling out onto Bell Road at 7:40 a.m. Bell Road at Boles Road is a nightmare in the mornings especially and has an F traffic rating.
Jolly’s traffic expert John Walker of Kimley Horn and Associates said the city’s plan to put a roundabout in the intersection should more than solve the congestion there.
“I love roundabouts, both as a driver and a traffic planner. GDOT [Georgia Department of Transportation] has finally caught on. Any intersection where they get a request for a signal, they say first must be modeled for a roundabout.”
The intersection at Medlock and the church can be eased after the 9 a.m. peak by a retiming of the interval of the light to allow Abbotts Bridge-Bell traffic more time to move through the intersection. The north-south traffic on Medlock is greatly reduced by then as rush hour wanes. That makes the longer interval feasible, Walker said.
Margot Vetrovsky of Sugar Mill community said Jolly “had done a lovely job” in planning the project, but she still remained unconvinced that the traffic situation would be tolerable.
“I just want what’s best for Johns Creek, and traffic is the biggest issue,” she said.
Catherine Bonnet said Highway 120 (Abbotts Bridge) was still affected. She has school-age children she either drives or puts on the bus, and that is a worry to her.