New beginnings — Former auto dealer site being transformed into $22M senior community
by Sheri Kell
business@mdjonline.com
March 06, 2013 12:00 AM | 3430 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print

From left, Dogwood Forest of Acworth Interior Designer Laurie Holbrook, Chairman Al Holbrook, Needle Development, Inc. President Dan Needle and Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood stand at the future site of an assisted living center, which was a former car dealership.<br>Staff/Laura Moon
From left, Dogwood Forest of Acworth Interior Designer Laurie Holbrook, Chairman Al Holbrook, Needle Development, Inc. President Dan Needle and Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood stand at the future site of an assisted living center, which was a former car dealership.
Staff/Laura Moon
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The new development will include an 87,000-square-foot facility composed of a three-story building with 92 assisted living units and a one-story wing with 24 memory-impaired units suitable for residents with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
The new development will include an 87,000-square-foot facility composed of a three-story building with 92 assisted living units and a one-story wing with 24 memory-impaired units suitable for residents with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
slideshow
ACWORTH — A longtime landmark on the southern corridor of downtown Acworth looks a lot different since Needle Development recently demolished the former Days Chevrolet automotive dealership and began construction on Dogwood Forest, a $22 million senior living community.

Located at 4461 South Main Street in Acworth, the development will include an 87,000-square-foot facility composed of a three-story building with 92 assisted living units and a one-story wing with 24 memory-impaired units suitable for residents with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The initial project is situated on 3 acres of the 7-acre property.

According to Dan Needle, the project broke ground last month and is expected to provide 60 new jobs when it opens in April 2014. He said sewer, storm and utility lines are being installed in preparation for the foundation work. At completion, the building will feature a stone and siding façade and have 62 parking spaces.

“It’s a unique piece of property, as the southern gateway to the historic Acworth,” said Needle. “We felt like it had everything we wanted — the traffic counts were high enough but had the historical small town feel that would be attractive to residents.”

Needle purchased the property from Days Chevrolet owners Calvin and Alvin Diemer in 2005, and then formed a partnership with Al Holbrook, chairman and founder of Trinity Lifestyles, owner of the Dogwood Forest senior living chain, to provide management and operations.

A series of setbacks delayed construction since.

“We had plans drawn up, had it rezoned again, had three banks committed and were four months from closing before the bottom dropped out,” said Needle.

Adding to the problems, Northwest Bank of Acworth — one of the banks committed to the financing, was seized by regulators in 2010.

“It was a free-for-all. Like everyone else, we were standing there trying to figure out what to do with the property,” he said.

Needle says it was not until early in 2012 when CNL Financial Group, a Florida-based real estate investment trust, agreed to fund the project. Pimsler Hoss Architects and Choate Construction, both of Atlanta, are serving as the architect and general contractor, respectively.

Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood said, “Most developers would have not made it through this seven-year period filled with the kind of setbacks these guys faced. City leaders have been strategically focused on downtown redevelopment, and moving this project forward has been the most important project priority for the city.”

Needle said, “They bent over backwards to help us with zoning and anything else they could do to keep this afloat. They were a big part of us being able to close. It’s a home run, and we really do see it as a partnership with the city.”

Allegood calls the project “transformational.”

“The project is located at our most traveled gateway to downtown and will be the catalyst for the redevelopment for south Main Street in our historic downtown,” he said.
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