City officials set up Q & A on website in an attempt to address some of the concerns raised
It’s no secret that many in Loganville are concerned about the City’s downtown revitalization plan that could result in an influx of apartments – some 800 proposed – to the area. This controversy arose following the announcement late last year of a partnership between the City and the CONNOLLY Investment and Development company for a proposed $180 million revitalization project. The first meeting that followed at the Rock Gym to introduce the community to the plan brought out a large crowd, many voicing concerns in particular about the potential impact on traffic and schools. While many like the idea of more retail, entertainment and restaurants, it was the inclusion of those 800 homes, the majority of them rental apartments, that created most of the opposition. A group was formed on Social Media, Concerned Citizens for Loganville Growth, which already has more than 2,000 members.
In an effort to get information out to the public addressing some of the concerns, the City of Loganville website now features a link to information that attempts to answer some frequently asked questions related to the proposed downtown revitalization project. That information can be found on the city’s homepage at this link.
Some citizens have taken to attending all city council and planning and zoning meetings. Former Loganville mayor and a member of the Loganville Development Authority Dan Curry announced his resignation from the LDA, but said he is not taking a stand either way.
“I do know that we have been looking at the redevelopment of the downtown area for many years, and I’m not sure that this is the right way to do it,” he said. “But I’m also not sure that this is not the right way to do it. I would like to help get people talking to each other.”
Curry believes that he could maybe be an intermediary voice between the city and the citizens and some Homeowner Association meetings have been set up giving residents an opportunity to address city officials. Loganville resident Michael Barron has attended many of the City Council or planning meetings and usually videos the information for residents who are unable to attend. He has shared these Youtube videos below.
Two current rezone applications, one a rezone for Commercial property off of Line Street and the other for the planned apartment complex off Tommy Lee Fuller Road, were tabled this month at the request of the applicants in each case.
The concerns of citizens have been duly noted and, as a result, city officials approved a contract at a called meeting on Jan. 3, 2020, with real estate consultants Haddow & Company to take an independent look at the viability of the proposed project to redevelop downtown Loganville.
“Despite what many people are saying out there, we are taking our time and doing our homework on this project before we pass judgment and make a decision because that is what any elected leader should do,” Loganville Mayor Rey Martinez said in a press release. “Bringing in someone not associated with this project, with years of experience in the real estate industry, will be another important piece of the puzzle for us as we decide how to redevelop the downtown area of Loganville.”
The Atlanta-based firm specializes in providing strategic advice based on in-depth market analysis and are most frequently asked to determine the highest and best use for a piece of land.
In December, CONNOLLY introduced the conceptual plan for the redevelopment of the downtown area. These plans can be viewed online at this link.
This was submitted by the City of Loganville to the state as a Development of Regional Impact. The concept of the proposed $180 million revitalization project includes the expansion of public parks and greenspace, improved infrastructure as well as a new City Hall and library combined with 90-000-square feet of new retail spaces, 200 active adult townhomes and 600 luxury living units.
While some people do like the plan and almost all are receptive to the public parks, greenspace, improved infrastructure and new retail space, others have baulked at the number of rental apartments.
Timothy “J.R.” Connolly, President and CEO of CONNOLLY Investment and Development said these apartments will cater to young professionals and active adults, but were not focused on families with children. Some of those asking questions were worried that the schools would be overburdened with so many additional residents in such a limited area. Connolly said the apartments they were considering would be one and two-bedroom units that would rent for between $1,000 and $1,800. He said that 800 homes for the proposed development would be necessary and were, in fact, a minimum to guarantee the success of the retail and restaurants that would be included.
“Eight hundred is there for a reason. It would be necessary to make the retail successful and to make the whole proposal work. If you look at similar cities that is the number that it needs. Some started out less, such as Suwanee, and are now adding as they realize it is necessary,” Connolly said.
Another bone of contention was the city looking to build a new city hall so soon after investing in the conversion of the old Loganville Elementary School to the current city hall. That building would be torn down to make way for some of those apartments. In a Q & A the city has now posted on its website in an attempt to answer some of these questions, city officials note that the city purchased the old school property to serve as City Hall but to also be able to control the fate of 10 acres of prime real estate in downtown Loganville.
“The city took out a $1.6 million loan for the purchase of the land and for renovations. An additional $215,000 was spent on roof work and $38,000 for a second round of renovation work when additional staff moved into the building. While no formal negotiations have taken place regarding the sale of the school property, it is reasonable to expect that the sale of 10 acres of land on the corner of two state highways in the downtown area of our city would bring in more than the money that has been spent on the building,” officials note in the Q & A information online.
City officials also are currently awaiting results from studies required by the state for a Development of Regional Impact that will look at potential effects of the project on traffic, infrastructure and public safety. Officials say this is all part of the fact-finding portion of the development process.
“We have met with a number of residents and concerned groups about this project, and they have asked a lot of good questions. But we are not at a point where there is a lot of information available. This is still just a concept at the moment,” City Manager Danny Roberts said.
Information on the project, as well as the Q & A can be found on the city’s homepage at this link.