Milton to Buy Land for Bell Memorial Park Expansion

City Council approved spending $345,000 on almost 4 acres of land next to the existing park, home to the Hopewell Youth Association baseball league.

Before Milton City Council even had a chance to approve the purchase of 3.82 acres of land next to Bell Memorial Park, the biggest supporters of that park were thanking the city.
Scott Stachowski, president of the Hopewell Youth Association, spoke at the start of the Monday night council meeting to offer his organization's thanks. (Watch accompanying video.) He couldn't stay to watch the $345,000 purchase be approved because his son's baseball team had a practice he needed to attend.
Mayor Joe Lockwood said after the meeting that the additional park land could allow expansion of the existing facilities.
First, however, the city will check the property for problems, such as having been a site where George Washginton once slept, containing 55 barrel drums or being another "Stone Mountain," said City Manager Chris Lagerbloom. While he spoke "tongue in cheek" about those possibilities, the city has 120 days to make sure the city isn't buying any problems. Within that time, the city can back out of the purchase without penalty. He doesn't expect it to take that long to perform due diligence on the land.
The $345,000 is within the appraised value of the land, Lagerbloom said.

Avalon owners present possible retailers, site plan for 400/Old Milton

Representatives of North American Properties presented details about the proposed Avalon development project to a packed house at Alpharetta City Hall Monday night.
Mark Toro, managing partner at North American Properties, went over the initial site plan, spoke about prospective retailers, eased minds over for-rent housing and explained how Avalon will differ from the former Prospect Park project.
Toro also identified the areas where Alpharetta may be lacking in its offerings to the community.
“You're probably under the impression that Alpharetta has everything,” he said to the crowd before going to describe some “missing components.”
In addition to lacking “experiential retail,” Toro said Alpharetta is in need of luxury for-rent residential units. The initial site plan shows 250 of these units.
“But we can't call them apartments,” he said. “The challenge we see with proposing apartments in cities like Alpharetta is that people are concerned about crime, attracting the wrong type of element and diminishing of property.”
Toro went onto describe the type of for-rent housing he envisions for Avalon, as high end lofts located above retail spaces geared toward the “young cosmopolitan” group.
“It's a major change in thinking that has to happen for this project to be successful,” he said.
Faced with questions about parking, Toro said the parking structure that currently sits on the property at Ga. 400 and Old Milton Parkway will be torn down.
Residents expressed other parking concerns, as well, saying the site plan seems to show a large number of parking spaces and parking garages. Toro said the parking issue can be reevaluated if necessary during one of the upcoming planning commission or design review board meetings.
Retailers Toro said will be joining the project include Whole Foods and Regal Cinemas. Developers are looking at companies such as Michael Kors, Apple, Lacoste, Microsoft, Swarovski, Anthropologie, United Colors of Benetton and Stuart Weitzman as possible tenants.
The project, according to Toro, will differ from the failed Prospect Park project in a number of ways, mostly relating to how much less dense it will be.
Avalon will have 36 percent less office space, 34 percent less retail space and 34 percent less daily car trips than its predecessor.
Avalon developers are also looking at bringing in upscale chef-driven restaurants, which are rarely seen in suburban areas.
But the multi-use development will not only cater to those looking for a luxurious experience. Toro maintained that viability and balance are key to the success of Avalon.
The Avalon proposal will appear before the planning commission March 1 and before City Council March 26.
If all goes as planned, Avalon's construction will begin in August and will open October 2013.
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