YEAR IN REVIEW: Alpharetta bid, $4M woo Gwinnett Tech selection

25-acre site on Old Milton Parkway could serve up to 10,000 students

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Alpharetta’s aggressive pursuit of the proposed North Fulton site for a technical college – which included a $4 million contribution as a “pot sweetener” – proved successful in October when the state board of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) approved the purchase of 25 acres of land in Alpharetta as the site for a $25 million new satellite campus of Gwinnett Technical College.

This property is at the southwest intersection of Old Milton Parkway and Ga. 400 and will be across the street from the $600 million Avalon mixed-use project. The land in question is owned by Avalon.

Mayor David Belle Isle said the city courted TCSG hard, including having a dinner for TCSG officials in which Alpharetta business leaders from Avalon, Red Prairie, McKesson, Hewlett Packard and others also joined in making a pitch for the facility.

“It’s going to look like a good day for Alpharetta, but it is going to be an incredible day,” Belle Isle said. “The ripple effect of what this will do for our city will be felt for a long time. Yes, they don’t pay taxes, but the economic effect will still be huge.”

As a show of good faith and desire to have the project, the city also added $4 million as an inducement to locate the project in Alpharetta. The city did not put any limits on how the city’s contribution would be spent, although Belle Isle said the school is not allowed to build structured parking with state funds, and the city’s donation could go for that and reduce the parking footprint.

The strings the city did put on its bid included that first, it would be new construction and not occupying existing office space. Second, the city wanted Alpharetta to appear in the name of the school.

“We didn’t make it a deal-killer, but we would like to have the city’s name on it somewhere,” Belle Isle said.

Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Brandon Beach said he was “ecstatic” that the search is over and the North Fulton technical college is a step closer to a reality.

“Our concern since we began pursuing this has been to have a quality tech school in North Fulton,” Beach said. “It’s a good location with access to Ga. 400 and Old Milton Parkway. It will provide a tremendous asset for the business community and the healthcare community,” Beach said.

The 25-acre recommended site can support four, 3-story buildings and necessary parking. When fully built out, the campus could serve up to 10,000 students.