$29.5M foreclosure hits Pathway

The latest local casualty of the defunct housing market is a company that for years has been nearly synonymous with the name “Peachtree City.” Pathway Communities, formerly the Peachtree City Development Corp., has approximately 1,600 acres across metro Atlanta valued at $29.5 million in foreclosure.

A substantial percentage of that acreage is in east Coweta County and includes the 491-acre Twelve Parks development that is slated for nearly 700 homes.

Pathway Communities Executive Vice President Gene Levine said Monday that, foreclosure or not, the company will weather the economic storm that has plagued the housing industry for the past few years.

Levine said the $29.5 million figure related to approximately 1,600 acres of property spread out through north and south metro Atlanta. That acreage includes residential, commercial and industrial property, Levine said, adding that nearly one-third of the acreage is represented in one residential development in east Coweta County. A few small tracts are in Fayette County, he added.

As pertains to the total acreage listed in the foreclosure, Levine said, “The vast majority of that acreage consists of smaller parcels in north and south metro Atlanta that we’ve had for a considerable amount of time.”

The most visible of the foreclosure properties include the undeveloped 491-acre Twelve Parks residential property off Ga. Highway 54 in east Coweta County.

Levine said Pathway is currently engaged in discussions with a number of parties interested in Twelve Parks and other Pathway properties, adding that it is Pathway’s intention to stay involved with its various projects.

“The foreclosure listing does not mean we’re going away,” Levine said. “No one in this economy is immune to what’s going on. We were forced into this position that we hoped to avoid.”

The culprit, said Levine, is the housing market that began its downward spiral half a decade ago.

“The general public thinks that the housing market fell in 2008. But the housing market began to fall in late 2006,” Levine said, noting that some of the largest development companies in the country have been affected. “The housing market is worse today than it was in the Great Depression. But unless you are involved in it you don’t feel it. Maybe it’s a good thing that the vast majority of people don’t know this because it would go beyond shaking the confidence of the people.”

As for the expansive Twelve Parks development, Levine said the goal is for Pathway to hold on to the property or to find an equity interest to secure it so that the 694 homes can be developed when the housing market is more favorable. That goal, Levine added, also pertains to other Pathway properties.

Some residents of Fayette and Coweta counties may not be aware of the company’s 35-year history when it was once known as the Peachtree City Development Corporation. It was beginning in the late 1970s that PCDC served as developer, though not the builder, of a substantial portion of the Peachtree City that people recognize today. It was during those decades that the local economy was subject to both recessions and periods of economic boom. And it was PCDC that helped pull a large chunk of Peachtree City properties out of foreclosure in the 1970s.

“We’ve seen the highs and the lows,” Levine said. “We’ve been down this road before, just not to this extent. We will survive somehow, someway. We may look different or sound different, but we’ll recover.”

Specific to the Twelve Parks project, the largest single property in the foreclosure, it was in mid-2008 that the residential development was approved by the Coweta County Commission.

Located on 491 acres in the area off Hwy. 54, McIntosh Trail, Reese Road and North Road, homes at that time were expected to range from the mid-$200,000s to nearly $400,000. The development would also include a 15-acre commercial center and a seven-acre commercial tract, both for future development. The project was designed at 1.85 units per net developable acre.

Development plans called for 41 percent greenspace and included parks, amenity areas and walking trails. Plans called for 187.12 acres of open space with an additional 107.43 acres of secondary acreage. Included in the proposal was an onsite waste water treatment facility.

Later in 2008 Pathways got rezoning approval from the commission on the 23 acres to be used as commercial space on the southeast corner of Hwy. 54 and Reese Road.

The shopping center was approved for a total of 77,500 square feet of retail space, including a 45,000 square-foot anchor, a 24,000 square-foot retail space and a 3,500 square-foot retail space. Included in the project were two office buildings totaling 15,000 square feet. The shopping center was also approved for three one-acre outparcels along Hwy. 54.

And in July 2010 commissioners voted to approve a request by Pathway to amend the development agreement, essentially moving back the date for its contribution to infrastructure and road realignment improvements associated with the residential and commercial projects.

Coweta County Administrator Theron Gay said the 2008 development agreement called for a $500,000 contribution over a five-year period (at $100,000 per year) for infrastructure improvements that would begin at the time of the first certificate of occupancy on the first home. The agreement also called for a $100,000 contribution for the realignment of the intersection of Reese Road and McIntosh Trail.

Noting the plummeting economy, the commission agreed to push the contribution date back to March 2012. Per the agreement, Pathway’s obligation will end after 10 years if the improvements are not made.