It’s unanimous: Council approves MetLife mixed-use project at Haynes Bridge near GA. 400

Despite hearing concerns from residents who say a mixed-use development from MetLife at Haynes Bridge Road near Ga. 400 would be bad for Alpharetta, city council voted unanimously to approve a rezoning request for the project.
The project, which includes nearly 500 condominiums and office and retail space, came before council in late January but was tabled and came back to council at Monday’s meeting, where Mayor Arthur Letchas and council members agreed the project would benefit the city economically.
“If everyone would just study this, it’s a great project for Alpharetta,” Letchas said.
Letchas pointed to resident complaints that this project will become another undeveloped site in the city, like Prospect Park, and said MetLife is financially secure.
“You can go out there and build it right now. You have the finances to do that,” Letchas said to the MetLife representatives at the meeting. “Some of these projects we’ve approved didn’t have that financial backing, but you do.”
Letchas also pointed out that MetLife will not begin building this project for three to five years, so the current condominium market is not relevant.
But some residents, such as local blogger Jimmy Gilvin and Windward Homeowners Association representative Tom Miller, have expressed skepticism toward the project since they heard about it.
At the meeting, both residents showed concern that the approved condominiums would become for-rent apartment units and said they believe the city is trying to bring MARTA to Alpharetta.
“For more than five years Alpharetta city officials have been quietly but methodically urbanizing this city in the hope of attracting MARTA,” Gilvin said after reading from a letter reportedly from MARTA’s Office of Transit Planning that states the transit authority has been working with Alpharetta to possibly bring the rail line to the North Point area.
Representatives from MetLife said they had no interest in MARTA and stated the company has no intentions or hopes of trying to have the condominiums rezoned as apartment units.
In addition to the three residents who spoke out against the development, two residents, former Council member John Monson and Richard Debban spoke in favor of the project.
“Most cities in the United States would be tickled pink to have this opportunity to entertain such a development and an organization behind it,” Debban said.
The project was approved with 35 conditions, one of which was that a building permit must be taken out by January 2015.
By Rachel Kellogg

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