Bigger box sought for 54W


A proposal to up-size a “big box” store for a new shopping center on Ga. Highway 54 West is up for a vote by the Peachtree City Council Thursday night.
Currently, the largest store allowed on the site is capped at 50,000 square feet, up from the city’s current limit of 32,000 square feet.

Now Capital City Development wants the cap raised to 65,000 square feet. CCD is allowed to have three stores of up to 50,000 square feet each, and as a concession the company is willing to give up the two other 50,000-square-foot stores, said CCD’s Doug McMurrain.
In return for the one bigger store, the remaining two big stores would comply with the city’s limit of 32,000 square feet each. The entire site still would be allowed a maximum of 175,000 square feet of retail/commercial space under the proposed revision.
While Kohl’s Department Store remains interested in the space, CCD is also courting Academy Sporting Goods and a movie theater, McMurrain said.
The company has yet to provide a site plan for city approval, and McMurrain has previously said that commercial development is difficult in the current stunted economy.
McMurrain has said the 65,000-square-foot store would be roughly the same size as the largest grocery store in town.
The decision will be among the last for three members of council — Mayor Harold Logsdon and council members Steve Boone and Cyndi Plunkett. They leave office Dec. 31.
Boone and Plunkett were defeated in their bids for reelection, and Logsdon chose not to seek another term on council. Logsdon is an announced candidate for the Republican nomination for state insurance commissioner.
This may be a last gasp effort by CCD, as incoming Peachtree City Mayor Don Haddix has said he wants to eliminate the “special use permit” process that allows big box stores upwards of 32,000 square feet to be approved by council. Based on that stance, and several other new council members’ stated intentions to avoid big box development, it is unlikely a new council would approve upsizing the store for a Kohl’s.
It is also unlikely that the new council will be able to “undo” the current agreement that allows CCD to have its 175,000-square-foot shopping center with the largest store being 50,000 square feet.
The site, which abuts Cardiff Park at the rear, is already zoned for general commercial development. It also will be served by a traffic light on Hwy. 54 West that was approved by the Georgia Department of Transportation after the City Council intervened on CCD’s behalf.
That light will be between the existing lights for Planterra Way and MacDuff Parkway. Prior to the city’s intervention, DOT had turned down CCD’s request for the traffic light on two previous occasions.
The city’s development agreement with CCD for the special use permit stated that the city merely would not oppose the traffic light; there was no requirement for the city to petition DOT for the light. But ultimately a split council voted to formally apply to the DOT with a request for the light, which was later granted.
As part of the special use process, the city negotiated a landscaped buffer between the shopping center and Cardiff Park. Many Cardiff Park residents who were vocal during the development vetting process said they preferred Kohl’s because of the company’s history in which it has not abandoned a store that it created; other big box retailers have well-documented records of abandoning stores for new ones.
CCD also has an existing agreement in which it will buy much of Line Creek Drive and all of Line Creek Court from the city in return for a payment of at least $500,000. Should the streets appraise for a higher value, CCD is to provide the rest of the funds in a swap for an equivalent amount of land on the site that abuts the Line Creek Nature Area.
Without the streets, CCD would not have enough room to put any large stores on the site due to the city’s road setback regulations.
The road sale and traffic light drew a firestorm of complaints from citizens who feared the additional traffic light will further worsen traffic flow on Hwy. 54 West, which is already choked with vehicles during commuting times.
Back in 2007, Capital City was working with Kohl’s for an 89,000-square-foot center for the 14.2-acre site. But that plan ultimately was withdrawn by CCD and replaced with a hand-drawn plan that included references to a Hooter’s restaurant and a QT gas station, though it was never said that CCD had inked agreements with either company.
Prior to that, CCD had lined up a potential Lowe’s Home Improvement store at 135,000 square feet along with the Kohl’s, but the Lowe’s fell off the map soon after it was publicized.