Kennesaw eyes 2nd annexation for $40M mixed-use development
by Rachel Gray
June 10, 2014 04:00 AM | 4677 views | 4 4 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Garvis Sams
Garvis Sams
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KENNESAW — In a move predicted by city officials six months ago, the owners of a mobile home park are proposing the western half of their property be annexed into the city of Kennesaw to build a $40 million development.

The mixed-use development on 34 acres would be placed next to 53 acres, on the northwest corner of Barrett and Cobb parkways, which was already annexed from the county into Kennesaw by a unanimous City Council vote in February.

The property owners of the 34 acres, listed as Amak Partners, L.P. and Masal Partners Ltd., L.P., live in Vancouver, Canada. They are the same owners under contract to sell the first 53-acre portion to be developed by Atlanta-based Fuqua Development.

Last week, attorney Garvis Sams, of the Marietta-based firm Sams, Larkin, Huff and Balli, LP, who represents the land owners, told the Planning Commission the second development does not have a builder attached to the project. But three premier developers are in the running to be selected in the next two months, Sams said.

The two projects would total $200 million, Sams said, generating more than $1 million in yearly tax revenue to the city, compared to the current use as an old mobile home park contributing “negligible” tax dollars.

“We ask you to seize this opportunity tonight,” Sams said to the Planning Commission.

The Planning Commission voted 5-0 to recommend the annexation. The City Council is expected to vote on the annexation after a public hearing Monday evening.

Councilmembers Debra Williams and Jim Sebastian were among those who attended last week’s Planning Commission hearing.

Sams said the designs are still in the conceptual stage, but when the purchase of the land closes in a few months, he will return with more comprehensive plans, including elevation drawings and renderings, to give to both the Planning Commission and City Council.

“So they kind of get another bite of the apple, so to speak,” Sams said about future rounds of approvals.

Sams said the existing site plan has 328 rental apartments, which could be owner-occupied condominiums in the future, with nine-foot-high ceilings and granite countertops. The apartments are mostly one or two bedrooms to attract young professionals who don’t have school-age children, Sams said.

There will also be 49 townhomes with a price tag of at least $300,000 each, Sams said, as well as commercial retail space.

The sale of the first property annexed into the city should be closed by the end of summer, Sams said. Groundbreaking is planned for fall, with buildings starting to rise by summer 2015.

The 450,000-square-foot shopping center, anchored by Whole Foods Market, would open no later than fall 2016, Sams said.

The entire block of 81 acres, including the newest piece to be annexed, is part of Kennesaw’s expansion strategy for future growth, targeting properties that are “prime for development,” Mayor Mark Mathews said in February.

“This application is the culmination of five years of work,” Sams said about the leadership by city officials and staff.

Relocation efforts

By annexing the 34 acres for a “planned village community” development, the city would absorb the rest of Castle Lake Mobile Home Parks, which continues to house dozens of families, many of whom are Spanish-speaking Latino residents.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the city provided an interpreter to deliver information not only about the current case, but also updates on other development project already approved.

Almost 100 residents, including young children, who saw the zoning sign placed by city staff, attended the public hearing.

In February, more than 50 adults with their children tried to stop the Fuqua development. But unlike the last hearing where mothers cried and fathers pleaded with the council not to tear families apart from one another in the close-knit community, this time the group elected a spokesperson to seek exact answers.

A mother of two daughters, Jacqueline Lopez, 29, said she did not realize until the staff presentation that the case was about another project on the land, instead of an update on the Fuqua development.

“There is no communication from management,” Lopez said about Castle Lake Mobile Home Park that still has new residents moving in.

But Lopez said she has made an effort to talk with city staff to stay informed, “and that is why these people trust me.”

By law, Sams said Fuqua Development representatives are not allowed to contact residents of Castle Lake until the company closes on the property.

Fuqua Development will be able to issue a timeline by the end of this month for when families will need to relocate and what help will be provided to get them moved by the fall.

Sams told the Planning Commission, “One of the most important impacts (of approving the annexation) is to the people seated behind me.”

During Wednesday’s hearing, Sams told the families for latest annexation case in the western half of the mobile home park, each head of household would receive a minimum of $2,500, “to use as they please.”

The mobile park has 320 homes, so half the amount would be 160 families for a total of $400,000, Sams said. Help will also be given to identify mobile parks with available space.

At the first annexation hearing in February, Mathews gave his word that the families of Castle Lake would be treated fairly and be placed in a better situation than how they have lived under the existing management.

By the end of that meeting, Sams said Jeff Fuqua, who formed Fuqua Development in March 2012, pledged to form a committee to relocate families.

Sams said Fuqua has hired a professional relocation consulting group and he “would not be surprised” if Fuqua also gives money to each household.

Comments
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Bill, Kennesaw
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June 11, 2014
2 Things FYI:

1) Garvis Sams credibility was long ago established in Kennesaw when he brokered a deal to get client Venturi's land rezoned with a stipulation that no Pawn Shop would be allowed on that property but 7 years later his client rented to Cruchelow's Pawn Shop and Sams did the rental contract then whined and moaned about how unfair it was that residents had insisted that the City actually enforce that stipulation. Now that we have taken up Sams credibility lets to turn to another Sams project:

2) The Castle Lake MHP, whose closing was put off until August and here is a pretty good guess why: In a 5/22/14 article by Politico, found at http://slinkingtowardretirement.com/?p=188684 we find that MHP residents are already getting 30 day notices to relocate.

Kennesaw residents who have kept up on this issue are aware that there have been many promises of a 'relocation package', absolutely no action, but lots of promises.

Now the Vancouver Canada Ergas family, who own the entire property are working to get MHP residents off the property with 30 day notices to quit. This saves Jeff Fuqua an estimated $3,000 per lot (their figure) for every eviction by the MHP, in effect the park is clearing the decks to save Fuqua a lot of money in relocation expenses.

Just a happy coincidence or a predetermined move in putting off the closing to August to get the majority of the dirty work out of the way? You decide, I already have.

Additional information on this MHP is found at: http://mayormathews.blogspot.com/
christian48
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June 15, 2014
I live in Castle lake and am totally discussed with what's going on here. The city can hold back building permits if they want, until there is a reasonable relocation package is put in place. If they don't, we will know that the city of Kennesaw does not care about us.

The management is still renting trailers in here. but only month to month and not telling the renters what is going on. some people have brought mobile homes in here in the last month, not knowing what is going on.. this has to be illegal? theft by deception or fraud.
west Cobbite
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June 10, 2014
It would easier to support this annexation and development if the developers would stipulate in writing as part of the annexation and/or sale their exact plans to assist displaced residents. Are they willing?
christian46
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June 15, 2014
I live in Castle lake and am totally discussed with what's going on here. The city can hold back building permits if they want, until there is a reasonable relocation package is put in place. If they don't, we will know that the city of Kennesaw does not care about us.

The management is still renting trailers in here. but only month to month and not telling the renters what is going on. some people have brought mobile homes in here in the last month, not knowing what is going on.. this has to be illegal? theft by deception or fraud.
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