LOGANVILLE, Ga. — A crowd turned out Wednesday last week for the presentation of the completed study by real estate consultants Haddow & Co. on the viability of apartments proposed for downtown Loganville. A $180 million redevelopment proposal submitted by Connolly Development included a total of 800 apartments and about 90,000 square foot of retail development.
According to Lanson Haddow, managing partner of Haddow & Co., a key takeaway from the study was that it would probably be wiser to start small and see how that went before moving forward with the whole project. He recommended granting the zoning for the current city hall property for an apartment complex that would allow for 250 – 300 apartments and maybe cut back on an initial retail development on Main Street to 15,000 – 20,000 square feet. If that went well, then maybe consider some of the other proposed development.
“(The city officials)” can control that by zoning,” Haddow said, adding he recommended containing the initial development to the Main Street area.
Haddow said the market study did find that the apartment market in the surrounding area is healthy with an occupancy rate of 95.4% and the average rental of $1.15 per square foot. However, that did not take into account the apartments still in the pipeline in the surrounding area, particularly in Gwinnett County, which Haddow described as “daunting.”
Loganville’s lack of job concentration and low population density also raised some concerns. However, although he didn’t consider the development a “slam dunk,” for Loganville, Haddow noted that the retail market in and around the Loganville area was performing well in the current economy.
In its final conclusion, the Haddow study found that if the city is committed to enhancing its downtown, it should “make a serious effort to work with Connolly, which is a reputable firm with a strong track record.”
Previously, Connolly released the Development of Regional Impact (DRI) Traffic Study, which reportedly found that there would not be a significant impact to the traffic flow by the full proposal which included the 800 apartments. Although he didn’t make any recommendations or give any findings on traffic as that was not the study that Haddow & Co. had been commissioned to do, Haddow did seem skeptical about there being no impact to traffic by 800 apartments. He also didn’t think that it would be a good idea to bring the balance of 500 apartments at the same time, some considered for empty nesters and other apartments targeting millennials and active young adults. Haddow said they would likely both compete for the same market.
The audience was not convinced that the development is what Loganville needs, with many speaking out about their concerns with school overcrowding, excessive traffic, potential loss of home values and even concerns about stormwater runoff with the increased impervious surfaces with the high-density of buildings proposed. However, Haddow & Co., had been contracted to study the viability of apartments in accordance with the Connolly proposal and many of the questions posed were not included in the study.
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