Since Dunwoody announced plans for Project Renaissance, the city has moved quickly to get the ball rolling on the redevelopment plan it hopes will reinvigorate the Georgetown/North Shallowford Road area.
Project Renaissance involves the purchase of two pieces of property, a private development partner, a new zoning classification and the creation of an urban redevelopment agency – needless to say, it can be tough to keep up with everything that’s going on.
Reporter Newspapers sat down with City Manager Warren Hutmacher for a breakdown of what’s happening at City Hall to show what Project Renaissance is all about.
Project Renaissance is planned on two pieces of property on North Shallowford Road that total 35 acres. One parcel is the 16-acre property known as the “PVC Farm” that City Council purchased for $5 million last year. The other is the 19-acre site of the former Emory Dunwoody Hospital, which the city is in the process of buying.
In March, the city selected John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods as its development partner after an invitation for proposals. Wieland will purchase a little more than 13 acres with plans to build about 110 homes. The city will reserve 3 acres for future commercial space.
Dunwoody officials would like to build a multi-use trail that connects the 16-acre and 19 acre sites. A roughly 1.4-acre central park and 1.9 acre park with a playground are planned for the 16-acre parcel. Dunwoody envisions a 5-acre open field on the North Shallowford side of the 19-acre site and an approximately 3-acre passive nature area with soft-surface walking trails along the Nancy Creek side.
Timeline for Project Renaissance
July 23 – City Council approves Kimley-Horn and Associates as the landscape architect to design the parks.
July 24- The Urban Redevelopment Authority votes to adopt the loan structure for the property.
Aug. 14- Planning Commission considers rezoning the properties with a newly created category called Planned Urban Development to allow use of the site plan John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods presented to the city.
Sept. 24– Council votes on the zoning.
2014- The 19-acre property will be fully purchased.
2015- Work on the parks is completed and the Urban Redevelopment Agency will transfer ownership of the land to the city.
2017- Construction of the John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods properties completed.
2019- The city fully pays off its loan.
Source: City of Dunwoody
Urban Redevelopment Agency:
Under Georgia law, cities and counties have the power to create an Urban Redevelopment Agency to act on the city’s behalf during the redevelopment process.
City Council recently created a seven-member Urban Redevelopment Agency that will handle the bulk of transactions made during the project. Members include former Mayor Ken Wright, Kerry de Vallette, a blogger and former council candidate, and Gordon Jackson, a former Dunwoody Homeowners Association president who ran for mayor last year.
“They were created for the express purpose of helping the city implement Project Renaissance,” Hutmacher said.
Dunwoody will transfer the land to the Urban Redevelopment Agency because under Georgia law, cities and counties are unable to take on debt without voter approval.
“The Urban Redevelopment Agency has the ability to take on the financing on the cost of land,” Hutmacher said.
Dunwoody has taken out a loan to pay for the land and has scheduled to pay back the money in incremental payments scheduled for a 20- year period.
In 2019, the city will give the bank a lump sum to pay off the remainder of the loan.
“We’re amortizing it over 20 years but we’re going to do a balloon payment at the end of the loan,” Hutmacher said. “The revenue we’re going to be receiving by selling land to John Wieland Homes is coming over a six-year period.”
Wieland will pay the city each year based on the number of lots the company purchases. The first payment is scheduled for $600,000. Wieland will pay the city a total of $6.37 million.
“Each year they make a different payment based on the number of lots they want to buy,” Hutmacher said.
Hutmacher said the city has the option to rent existing office space on the 19-acre hospital site to take in additional revenue. The city also is reserving three acres to sell for a commercial development.
“Conservatively, we did not include potential revenue from that land,” Hutmacher said.
Without including the combined $1.25 million expected from the sale of the commercial space and rental revenue from office space, he said, “the numbers still work.”
“The deal gets better and better if plans come to fruition,” Hutmacher said.
Dunwoody will pay the bank and the owner of the property each year using money from reserves and cash from the sale of property to Wieland.
“The project has really taken shape and should move methodically through the process at this point,” Hutmacher said. “It’s forward thinking. I think it’s pretty unique and a lot of things evolved from our community-driven planning.”