Johns Creek residents oppose Old Alabama Road mixed-use zoning

Say traffic at Medlock can’t stand any more

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Nearly 200 Johns Creek residents came out Feb. 2 to object to a 20-acre proposed mixed-use project at the southwest corner of Old Alabama Road and Medlock Bridge Road that would add retail/office development along with apartments and condominiums.

The meeting was organized by the Johns Creek Community Association for its member neighborhoods to get a preview of the project and to talk face to face with the developer.

The property is part of a 70-acre parcel owned by the Atlanta Athletic Club and is directly across the street from AAC’s main gate on Medlock Bridge Road.

The rezoning request proposes 42,200 square feet of office and retail along with transitional housing consisting of 263 rental apartments including units above ground-floor retail and 24 condominiums or townhouses.

It is early days yet for the property owned by the Atlanta Athletic Club and will be developed by Brand Properties LLC owned by R. Brand Morgan.

Morgan told the residents at the JCCA meeting at Perimeter Church (just across the street from the proposed project) that he is not a build-and-flip developer. His company holds onto the projects it builds, a because of that, residents can be assured it will be successful and of high quality.

“The Atlanta Athletic Club picked us for that reason. We build the best product,” he told residents.

Morgan said he recognized the problems of building in an area already congested such as Medlock and Old Alabama. That was one reason the idea of “boutique grocery store” was tossed out. It would generate too much traffic, he said.

The Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) calls for low-density commercial use at the intersection, transitioning down in intensity of use from commercial to multi-family rental to owner-occupied townhouses. The residential will be 14 units to the acre, which Morgan described as not too dense as transitional housing.

That drew some derisive hoots from area residents who noted in their questions and in their statements to Morgan that the T-intersection of Old Alabama and Medlock Bridge is near gridlock during peak hours already.

Traffic generated by the retail/office center and traffic from apartments and townhouses could well bring about complete gridlock.

“I can’t tell you how to resolve traffic. I can only tell you I will do what Johns Creek [Planning Department] tells me to do,” Morgan said.

There were other questions Morgan could not answer, such as what will the AAC do with the remaining acreage fronting the west side Medlock Bridge Road?

He said he does not own that land nor is he privy to what the private club is thinking. But with at least two major PGA tournaments scheduled there in the coming two years, Morgan said he thought AAC would have to keep the land undeveloped to continue to use it for event parking.

Others expressed concern that commercial property’s density and lack of landscaping on the Old Alabama side detracted from the rural character of Old Alabama and clashed with the Perimeter Church landscaping (it sits back on 100 acres).

Residents also noted it would be harder not only for themselves to get in and out in peak times but for the church’s school as well.

The meeting went on for more than an hour. But Morgan promised to meet again with homeowner associations to listen to their concerns again and work for some solutions.

“We are open to renegotiating,” Morgan said. “We have heard what the Atlanta Athletic Club has to say. Now we are ready to compromise with you.”

One item he put on the table was to eliminate some or all of the apartments and have more owner-occupied townhouses.

The project is scheduled to come before the Planning Commission March 4, and then for a final hearing before the City Council March 24.

02-12-14 JC