An applicant has requested a modification to a proposed planned unit development (PUD) on a roughly 172-acre site abutting Highway 411.
“As it stands today, what is proposed is a zoning-related change in the conditions on the property of the planned development so that along 411, it will be commercial/retail-type and that is similar to what was proposed back in approximately 2008,” said Bartow County Zoning Administrator Richard Osborne. “The change is closer to the Burnt Hickory Road extension where, before, it was a larger area of listed multifamily apartments — now it is proposed as more of a mixture of townhomes, with some apartments.”
The proposed Walker Ridge development was originally rezoned from I-1 industrial to PUD in December 2008. As of June, Bartow County Board of Tax Assessors data indicates original applicant Four Eleven Partners, LLC still owned the property, which has a 2020 fair market value assessment of about $6.8 million.
The County government received the alteration of zoning conditions request on Sept. 30.
“Changing area of PUD from current site plan approved for apartments/offices to townhomes,” applicant Jeff Skorich wrote in the submission. “Only 29.1 acres of the 172.62 acres will be modified for the townhomes.”
Included with the application is a new site plan, indicating the total proposed development would also consist of 70 single family residential units, 246 multifamily units —totaling 258,300 square feet — and 600,000 square feet of retail.
The conceptual plans do not specify how many townhomes would be included in the proposed project, but a development summary indicates the 29.1-acre tract specified in the application could feasibly include well over 200 units.
That concept plan differs quite a bit from the 2008 development summary, which — among other variations — called for 416 multifamily units spanning 224,000 square feet and a senior housing component consisting of 40 units and a 106,000-square-foot footprint.
“Because factors have changed a good bit since the initial 2008 planned development,” Osborne said, "this revised layout is based on current market demand and preference of the current owners, developers and representatives.”
The request is scheduled to be heard by the Bartow County Planning Commission at a meeting set for 6 p.m. on Nov. 2 at 135 West Cherokee Ave. in Cartersville. Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor will vote to accept or deny the commission’s recommendation at a meeting held at the same location on Nov. 4 at 10 a.m.
“We expected it to have been developed like, three or four years ago, when the road was completed through there,” Taylor said. “We started conversations with a developer, and then, for some health reasons, they stalled the project.”
At one point, Bartow County Administrator Peter Olson said the developer was considering placing a grocery store — and possibly a movie theater — on the property.
"What we've seen over the last several years with these PUD-type zonings is that it is not as easy as it may look," he said. "Getting the residential part going seems fairly straightforward, getting the commercial part going is more difficult."
Taylor, however, said he’s had no conversations with the developer about the proposed alteration of zoning conditions — nor the future plans for the property that’s sat undeveloped for almost a dozen years.
“I can’t make a decision until I hear both sides of it, so I don’t really want to make public comments in front of my meeting,” he said. “We’ll actually get some information before then, before we start looking at it, but we’ll take the planning commission’s recommendations, then we’ll start looking at what the project really is and how many square feet and how much investment.”
Similarly, Osborne said he’s heard little in the way of details on the size of the financial investment in the proposed project, nor how long the development would take to construct — although Taylor said it seems likely that a PUD of that size and scope would have to be built in phases.
"We don't require them to give us dollar figures when they propose a PUD," Olson said. "My assumption is, not having talked to them, is that they've probably been approached by somebody who wants to do townhomes so they said 'We can rezone a portion of the PUD to accommodate townhomes' — if this gets approved, I expect we'll see this popping out of the ground."
At this point, Osborne said he’s not sure what infrastructure upgrades — if any — would be required to facilitate such a project.
“That would be handled during review of the civil construction plans, the hydrology study, the individual unit review based on the water and sewer,” he said.
Taylor, however, said he believes the property — which would be across the highway from Shaw Plant X — already has the needed infrastructure in place.
“This project is probably able to come together quicker because it’s, No. 1, not surrounded by neighborhoods, and No. 2, it’s got everything already there,” he said. “It’s got water, it’s got sewer, the roads, a lot of the grading’s already complete. So when this project’s approved, I expect it to move fairly rapidly because of those reasons.”
Neither Osborne or Taylor said they’ve heard any negative feedback from residents about the proposed PUD.
“No neighboring community groups have come out against it, not that I’ve heard of,” Taylor said. “I haven’t heard any opposition yet.”
Whether or not the ambitious mixed-use development ever comes to fruition, Olson said he believes more projects of the like are sure to come to west Bartow, especially along the 411 corridor.
"The additional growth that's going on out there in the Hamilton area is going to lead to more businesses perking up and going 'Hey, there's a good population center there, and now we can serve it,'" he said. "There's quite a few rooftops coming up in that area, and I think that will lead to retailers and commercial businesses going 'This area is starting to get the density of housing and income that will support businesses out that way.'"