Mayor Fleisch: Peachtree City’s ‘village concept is changing’

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Peachtree City Finance Director Paul Salvatore goes over the budget figures for the City Council. Photo/Cal Beverly.
Peachtree City Councilman Mike King (L) and Mayor Vanessa Fleisch consider an agenda item at the Aug. 6 meeting. Photo/Cal Beverly.

The word to remember is ‘redevelopment’ — 

Peachtree City Mayor Vanessa Fleisch’s comments came as the City Council last Thursday was preparing to vote to keep the city property tax rate the same as last year: 6.232 mills.

But she was signaling the citizenry that change is coming to the city, presaged by an ongoing study by the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Living Centers Initiative that focuses on what happens next in Peachtree City.

The average age of a home in Peachtree City is 30 years, Fleisch said, and even so, property values continue to go up. “That’s pretty impressive,” she said.

She contended that to keep that trend going, “we must be reinvesting in the city.”

She noted that the sheer amount of cardboard boxes from Amazon packages now showing up in the city’s recycling containers demonstrates how commerce has fundamentally changed.

“You shopping habits are changing,” Fleisch said. “If you are shopping online, what does that do to the local establishments (like Steinmart)?” Her point was that the core concept of Peachtree City envisioned multiple retail shopping centers that formed the city villages’ centers.

When retail declines as dramatically as it has in the past few years — punctuated by the Covid-19 pandemic and mandated business shutdowns — retail centers as village centers are in danger of not having enough customers to stay in business. That means empty, aging centers at the heart of the city’s five residential villages.

The anticipated solution is what the council wanted with Aberdeen Center — a new city center, with live-work buildings and maybe some high density residential within walking distance of a new shopping and entertainment area. That deal fell through, but the idea is likely to come back alive when the survey is compiled and the LCI study is presented to the council, later this year.

Instead of “being stuck in our ways,” Fleisch said, “it’s better to have a roadmap for the future of Peachtree City.”

She encouraged residents to go online and complete the LCI survey (click here for that link).

The council will use that survey and results of the LCI study to “guide the way the city looks in the future.”

And what about postponed July 4th events? The good news is that a fireworks display over Lake Peachtree is still on for the evening of Sept. 5 at 8:30 p.m., during the Labor Day weekend.

The unhappy news is that — due to lack of entries — the parade has been cancelled.

56 COMMENTS

  1. For what it’s worth Peachtree City or Fayette County, for that matter, can ill afford public transportation notwithstanding the fact that the overwhelming majority of the population doesn’t want it. With around 110K residents the county doesn’t have the density for MARTA to be cost efficient, but I would imagine you already know of the very low rider rates on MARTA currently. Why is it then that you wish for us to be burdened paying for MARTA?
    RWM mentioned the bus line to the airport that was once operated out of PTC some years back. Perhaps some of you would like to invest in such a venture or would that seem Republican to you?
    Public transportation may well be in PTC’s future, but now is not the time.

    • The red line extension could be a park and ride. We don’t have the density to support bus routes, but a park and ride would be convenient for commuters to the airport and downtown. A bus route just is not practical, people go for the transportation method that gets them to their destination the fastest. Why would anyone drive to a park and ride stop only to wait for a bus, then wait in traffic on the bus, then have to get to their job. Which a rail link it does not get slowed down by traffic and can get people to their destinations faster than driving, which is the biggest factor in what mode of transport people choose. MARTA NIMBYs are bipartisan, any public transit in Fayette county would be good, if anything buses would be more Democratic idea because Republicans want to privatize most things. My long term hope is that one day MARTA will have a connection in PTC, but as you said MARTA is not on table right now and even commuter bus service seems very unlikely.

      • Don’t be silly Young Henry. MARTA will take 2 election cycles or maybe more and then (2030) after the aging Millennials vote for it and its 1% sales tax, it will take 5 or 6 years to extend the rail line from East Point. Probably be a lawsuit or two that may delay it more. So, now we are up to 2050 and it finally gets built. That make you happy when you will be 53 years old and if you still live in PTC, you will wonder why they are building that since you are almost retired.

        OR, as an alternative,, get on the privately funded, public (city Council supported) van thing. You could have that running up and down to Atlanta before you are 25. Why not go for that? No magic that I can see from MARTA and its obvious flaws.

      • I agree, ideal shouldn’t get in the way of good enough. However that doesn’t mean I have to completely give up on my idealism and if I start by advocating for something like MARTA then buses look good in comparison.

  2. The survey is great! Not just the content and choices, but the mechanics of taking it – manageable for an old guy. Great ideas (mostly) and worthy of consideration. That’s the good news.

    The bad news is that judging from comments on the survey (a devise that I would not have included as it encourages herd mentality) and even the comments on here, much work is needed on the educating the public step of creating a redevelopment plan. Henry does have some basic knowledge about density and its advantages, others seem to prefer the head in the sand approach or the famous “I moved here because” self-important gambit. I suspect actual sincere “what’s good for the community” feeling won’t be prevalent until many more baby boomers die off and the next generation sees all the empty retail – which eventually becomes bank-owned and managed and that seldom works out well.

    Best to create some things that PTC residents actually want instead of a templet of what ARC thinks is best for us. That one size fits all approach that ARC has always includes live/work space (which we already have as a huge failure in Lexington Circle) and the ever-present public transportation dream.

    I’m very glad the city is taking this step and hope they continue the process even after the grant money dries up. Having the survey and the public education phase of the process already complete makes it possible for the city to pounce quickly upon foreclosed antiquated shopping areas and either buy them at foreclosure prices or work closely with an outside developer who acquires it. It is pretty clear large retail is going to be replaced with either small retail, cheap retail or some type of residential. Again, it would be good to have a list of what we do want instead of a bunch of negative comments.

    If you want to see redevelopment done properly look how Kroger bought a foreclosed 1970’s interior shopping mall on Hilton Head for about 30 cents on the dollar and created what is there today.

          • Now, Henry, we have established you are unqualified, but how can I be wrong when I am yet to state an opinion?

          • Because I am fairly certain that you are not any more qualified than me, yet you talk down to me as if you are an expert on urban planning and civil engineering.

          • Now we have established that you are unqualified and that you wrongly accused me. However, Henry, you are right that I am no expert. I am merely an old man who has lived here for over forty years and seen many fads and planning ideas come and go. Most went because most residents are quite satisfied with PTC as it is. I am pleased that you see my condescension and hope you will one day be able to see yours as well. You appear to have many qualities that may make you very successful if you can temper your zeal and show a willingness to respect for the ideas of others as much as your own.

  3. I don’t normally post here but I am amazed and dismayed by some of the comments from my fellow citizens. Fayette County and all of the Metro Atlanta areas need efficient, affordable public transportation, like MARTA or an upgrade of it. Making commuting easier for everyone improves the quality of life for so many as well as our planet. This debate has been raging on for decades. What is the real issue behind Fayette County’s repulsion to public transit?

    Mr. Morgan, it seems “dog whistles” are your forte. Say what you really mean. You are scared of any decisions by the council that will invite changing demographics, particularly of the darker hue. Just say it. And, yes, the race card has been pulled. I have silently read comments like yours in The Citizen for years and it is clear who you feel is synonymous with “criminals” and “muggers”. Everyone has the right to care about their community. Everyone has the right to want the best for their family. But, using those rights to exclude others based on limited assumptions about people who look different than them is a base-nature response. I think we all should strive to be our best selves and examine how our biases harm others.

    Public transportation can make PTC’s lush beauty sustainable, long-term. If not the expansion of MARTA, at least trams, park and ride lots, buses – anything to bring us into the 21st century.

  4. Seems like some of our city leadership assumes that most of us are already dense!

    Her Honor is surprised that a small city with houses nearing 50 years old with an average of 30 years old is still increasing in value. I think that this is feigned surprise given her day job as a realtor. Plenty of cities in the US have homes older than ours and their values also increase annually.

    Reston, VA was a planned city near Dulles airport that, like PTC was built out in the sticks and was a planned city with a similar village concept. Due to the ridiculous growth of the Federal Govenment over the last 50 years, that once unique city is now just part of the sprawl that is Northern VA. Maybe that is our fate, but it could be controlled. That control would require some really conservative (if not capitalistic) thinking, annexing land surrounding the city for the experssed purpose of perpetual green space, thereby maintining the “bubble”. That, and only that will maintin what makes PTC special.

    Of course, this is not at all what developers and realtors want. We are falling prey to the oldest trope that we must continue to grow or die. Other than the schools, recreation, safety, and typically quiet neighborhoods, PTC is no different than any other city. Home owners are maintaining the value of their properties using their own money to continue rising property values. If we do what every other town does, we will be just like every other city.

    • Suburban towns literally have to keep growing or else they will fall apart. Look up this article from Buisness Insider “A Complete Guide To The Ponzi Scheme That Is Suburban America”. It’s a bot old but all the key points still apply today, denser areas like the proposed mixed use development fit more people on less road and are less pipe for water and sewage and the taxes that dense area pays goes to cover the rest of the city.

      • Growing is one thing; redevelopment is another. How is growth defined? Is it greater numbers of people, business, tax base, square miles, green space, or what? People can grow old and not lose their value, so can houses, cars, art, religion, as well as other things. Inevitably all will transform into something different, but that in itself doesn’t make something better or worse. I’m not familiar with referenced article, but I do question whether “Business Insider” is a creditable reference. When I was young, I also believed everything must grow or whither away. After living a few decades, I haven’t seen evidence making it true. I do however think neglect can devalue things with time.

        • growth as in population growth, most commonly in the form of sprawl. The issue is suburban towns don’t make enough in taxes to cover on going maintenance of infrastructure. For example a city my take out a 30 year loan to repave a road whose expected live span is 25 years and as these loans pileup eventually the whole thing falls apart. Denser development makes more in taxes revenue than is pent on infrastructure because there is less road between each house helping the overall financial health of the city.

          • Now we are talking about long term valuation. Maintenance costs do increase similar to the CPI. The best hedges for long term valuation are location, quality construction and routine maintenance. Keep the supply of the first two and increase valuation will occur. Likewise, increasing density will reduce valuation.

          • Land value increases with density, because 3 $150,000 townhouses can fit on the same land area as 1 $400,000 single family house, so while the individual houses are cheaper the land value per sq ft is higher. If you haven’t watched the youtube video I mentioned in a different comment yet, I recommend you do. It addresses many of your concerns about mixed use development.

        • I don’t have any issues with mixed use communities. I have issue with increasing population density in an area where I live and the population density having a negative impact on my quality of life. I live here because I am comfortable here. I can find less expensive housing, a greater variety of shopping and things to do elsewhere, but that’s not what I want. My offspring grew up here, live here, work here, and are raising their families here. Why? It’s because they are comfortable here. Just because someone wants to take economic advantage of our piece of the “Bubble,” doesn’t mean I need to give it away to them. I’m trying to save the Bubble.

          • How does it affect your quality of life specifically? If you have not problem with mixed-use then why do you have a problem with this proposal? This is standard density for mixed-use development.

          • That’s an easy one. It will increase our population in the existing land space. I do not want to increase population density. Increased population brings increased perceived problems, real and unreal. Not only does every individual normally have an opinion, they have a right to that opinion and a right to act on that opinion. That’s why we recently added speed bumps on one of our multipurpose paths after 40 or so years without them. That’s why we have golf cart drivers with loud motors, loud music, and mudslinging tires. That’s why I haven’t ventured down to Lake Peachtree, only a couple blocks away, to see the Fourth of July fireworks in years.

          • Just to be clear, you don’t like 3 story development which we already have in PTC because of imaginary problems. Let me guess, the real reason you don’t want this is because it would bring more people of color into your white suburb.

  5. I continue to be amazed at the Mayor’s efforts to ram a City Center down our throats when it will create more traffic on Hwy 54, exactly what our residents think is our greatest problem now. Instead of looking at ways to lessen traffic, like alternative routes around PTC, she seems intent on worsening the problem.
    Let’s review. The Aberdeen Village redevelopment proposal was never a live-work-play area. The greedy developer wanted construction of almost 200 single family homes, plus Townhomes and a massive apartment building. Fortunately, the Planning Commission recommended disapproval to the City Council and before they had to decide, Mr. Royal withdrew that plan.

    What will the Mayor and City Council do at their next meeting regarding the plan on Governors Square on Hwy 54? Here too the Planning Commission recommended disapproval of 94 single family homes due to traffic concerns and other issues. Will the Mayor and Council stand behind her words about needing Live-Work-Play areas or will they simply approve more single-family homes contributing to more traffic on Hwy 54?
    Wake up and let the Mayor and your Councilmen know before it’s too late.

    • It’s not fortunate, that’s what the planning commission is supposed to do recommend what’s best for PTC. The LCI area is a live-work-play area, there are next to no single family homes in the proposal. Additionally the LCI, will come with traffic improvements along 54 at huddlestone and Northlake. More roads is the opposite of what PTC needs, PTC needs robust public transit.

        • An extension of the MARTA down to PTC would be great, you could drive your golf cart to the station take the train downtown avoiding the traffic. It would be very convenient and would reduce the number of cars driving into ATL a speeding up traffic for people who want to drive downtown and spend obscene amounts of money on parking.

          • Noooo O Henry, MARTA to PTC wouldn’t be great or convenient. If you somehow feel a need to take your golf cart to the train station, you are mixing metaphors for public transportation options and insulting most of us who own golf carts.

            We have golf carts because we wanted alternative transportation (within PTC) to cars. Some of our liberal friends can even say golf carts reduce toxic emissions (although gas golf carts do not), wear and tear on the roadways and make things safer for the kids who drive their golf carts to school or the parents that do because it reduces automobile use. Mighty fine, might even be true. The fact that golf carts are recharged from your home’s electricity which is fueled by coal (but don’t tell anybody) should not be a deterrent.

            So then, that’s our contribution to alternative public transportation. No further “improvements” like MARTA are needed. Thank you very much – move on away from that idea and leave us alone. We got what we need.

            So Henry, if you need to go downtown to buy something you can’t get here or see a basketball game or just want to visit the Aquarium – drive to East Point or the airport and hook up with MARTA there. The rest of us don’t really need to share your transportation dream or schedule.

          • You say it wouldn’t be convenient, what about all the people who work at the airport it would certainly be convenient for them. Just because you think climate change isn’t real doesn’t mean that it isn’t. Even coal power plants produce less CO2 per kwh than a car engine, because they don’t have to be designed to fit in a car. Additionally golf carts are much lighter than cars (800 lbs vs 4000 lbs) and as a result need less energy to accelerate, using less energy by a large margin, so gas golf carts use less gas and produce less CO2. You are right they produce more toxic gases because they lack a catalytic converter, but if we wanted to PTC could require them on golf carts. Golf carts are not public transit, because by their nature they are private vehicles. We need to reduce CO2 emissions on a local, national, and world level, and public transit is a great way to do that. How many people commute into ATL from PTC and hate dealing with the traffic? Even if you don’t take MARTA, that would still mean less cars on the road and less traffic, making commutes faster for everyone. What is you’re issue with MARTA beyond “It will bring poor people and people of color to my rich white suburb”? Which won’t happen because there’s nothing here that they couldn’t find somewhere in closer.

    • The City’s Development Dept recommended to our PTC Planning Commission 94 single homes on land having less than an half acre per residence in opposition to PTC annexation from Fayette County that limited single residences to one home per one acre and came into PTC at the same one home per acre zoning. Please let our Mayor and Council folks know we don’t support high density housing that will further negatively impact traffic onto Highway 54 East PTC…with only one road in and out to proposed Ravin Homes development near Governor Square. Let’s avoid issues previous density development created on Highway 54 West of 74.

      • I support more density, you don’t speak for all of us. In fact everyone in my close social circle supports higher density. Mixed-Use reduces traffic because people don’t have to drive to get to the grocery store or pharmacy therefore fewer car trips and less traffic. I can’t link the video, but copy and paste this into youtube “The Lively & Liveable Neighbourhoods that are Illegal in Most of North America”

  6. A great many Fayette residents work at the airport. We definitely need a better system to help them get there and back than individual automobiles. We also have many residents who work in the downtown area of Atlanta, in federal and state government offices, law firms, and large offices. We also have a lot of young people who need ready access to learning institutions like Georgia Tech, Georgia State, and even Emory University. I would not call anybody a fool (or dope) for wanting better ways to meet the transportation needs of all these people. (And I wish the word public had been spelled correctly.)

    • Good idea on access to GA Tech and elsewhere. Lynn Fairley solved that problem 35 years ago with his very fine commuter van service. It worked then, it will work now. Productive people saving money and gas, minimizing toxic emissions while going outside the city to earn money or obtaining education and bringing it back home. That’s external public transportation and its enough.

      Internal public transportation would be van service for seniors (which we have) and others between and within villages and maybe trams, walkways, trolleys or buses. Mighty fine.

      Going whole hog on public transportation is MARTA or bus service that forces our county to be part of the urban mess that Atlanta has become by allowing complete access to the fine folks who will eventually populate the subsidized housing we are forced to create by the feds. Doubt me? Look at the latest Obama thing that Trump de-fanged last week which allowed the Feds to hold up federal funding for schools and other things unless we (Fayette County) required subsidized housing in every new residential project. For a more complete description and a historical look at what can go wrong – refer to Atlantic Station in Atlanta. I don’t want my daughter shot in the parking garage by someone who lives in her building with reduced rent that she (and others) were subsidizing. Do you?

      Maybe Claude is right, fools and dopes is not quite appropriate – urban dissenters, liberal social engineers or repopulation terrorists might be better. If I were tasked with destroying a country, I would do exactly what the Dems and public transportation dummies propose. And of course take our guns away. Don’t forget that one. FYI – potential muggers in whatever city my daughter resides – no one has taken her gun or training away. Given the record high number of gun sales lately, she is not the only one willing to defend herself.

      Sure public transportation sounds good on the surface until you ask 3 or 4 questions and do some analysis. Fortunately Public transportation has to be voted in by the residents willing to impose a 1% sales tax on themselves or it would have to be funded by an investor who thinks the market will support the idea – meaning people will actually use it and it will be profitable.

      Take that idea to Shark Tank. Jump in after you are done.

      • Don’t worry, I still remember the Bernhard Goetz NY subway incident in 1984. Not much has changed when people approach trapped motorists waiting at a red light with offers to sell them bottled water. I remember Atlanta’s Tex McIver too, and what has happened to him. Urban life has its challenges. People looking for solutions still should not be called names, especially by people who believe guns are the solution to everything. They can be the start of your problems rather than the solution.

          • It’s good to get affordable housing spread out across the metro area. Just google benefits of affordable housing and you’ll find article after article listing benefits.

        • God bless, Henry – if only that were true.

          Subsidized housing for retail workers that have job is sort of ok. Subsidized housing for those that have no job is not ok.

          The federal government withholding taxpayer-provided funds from suburban cities and counties is definitely not ok. This was an Obama idea and Trump is killing it. Again – really, really not OK.

          Get a grip Henry. We have no need of more subsidized housing here. The former Peachtree Station is offered as Exhibit A. You can offer your own examples of Section 8 stuff that is helping the county. Go ahead, I’m waiting, Hello! Are you still there?

          • Affordable housing is not free housing, they still have to pay rent. Why is it not ok for the federal government to withhold money, if you’re conservative wouldn’t you want less government interference in the free market? If you’re liberal it’s a good program that helps people out of poverty. A dozen or two affordable units won’t destroy PTC, there’s to many WASPs here for that.

  7. Almost 100% right Vanessa. I am impressed with your focus on what is important and celebrate your leadership. Yes, there is a “but” coming.

    But, don’t take any info or instructions from the ARC. These horrible liberal fools want pubic transportation everywhere and we in PTC don’t. Even if they want to give you/us money to study things – just say NO. No thanks, we don’t want you (the ARC) into our lives. Go away.

    With that in mind, your “roadmap to the future” is a definite need. Use local people especially the professionals who live here and care like Peterson, Strickland, Browne, Bradshaw, Rast, Williams, Lorber and others instead of the ARC dopes. Please.

      • Public transit in a spread out area like this is not economically feasible since most people live at least 20-30 mins walk from a major road. We should get a few park and rides to get folks to the airport. I know a private company tried that over by Crosstown Kroger years ago..When I drive up through Clayton County I see empty buses..it just doesn’t work well in areas that have no real housing density.

          • Let’s not. More people create more demands, creating more traffic, creating more refuse, creating greater tax digests, creating more problems. Nah, let’s not.

          • counterintuitively, the denser an area is the less traffic there is because people can walk or take a golf cart places instead of driving and the cost of roads are constant but with more people per mile of road, the taxes each person has to pay to maintain the road goes down. Also apartments are great for the local economy because people who can’t afford a large house are living in PTC and spending their money here supporting local businesses and paying city taxes.

          • more people doesn’t equate to better, or happier, people. Ever been to a big city with dense acreage per capita where some people live and work within 15-20 blocks, some people don’t work, and some people don’t live (Chicago, New York City, Cairo, New Delhi, Moscow, London, Paris, Amsterdam, etc.)? Road costs per capita is great, litter per capita is bad. Traffic per capita is good. Traffic getting into the areas is always bad. Traffic getting out of the areas is always bad. Air quality is normally bad. Green space is normally limited. Crime per capita is normally bad. Those who wish to live in a densely populated area should try to live in a densely populated area and leave those of us who do not want to live in a densely populated area alone. There are reasons I do not live in downtown Atlanta.

            I think PTC’s population has not grown in proportion to the city’s requirement for public safety. Has anyone noticed the per capita public safety personnel we now employ compared to the previous five decades? Whereas the population has increased, the increase in the number of public safety personnel seems to have increased at a greater rate. More people doesn’t equate to better, or even happier, people.

          • Air quality will be just as good as the rest of PTC, because there won’t be any more cars driving at the same as than at the parking lot of a big box store because people will be able to walk instead of driving. They have plans to keep lots of green space in the mixed use area, just in the form of parks not front lawns. Crime is actually lower in the proposed kind of development because there are more people (aka more witnesses) and there’s a stronger sense of community than in single family development so neighbors are more likely to help out. Three and four story buildings are not that dense, we already have 4 story buildings in PTC. I recommend you watch the video “The Lively & Liveable Neighbourhoods that are Illegal in Most of North America” by not just bikes on youtube

      • Young Henry, I’m starting to like you and the way you present some facts, some beliefs in a clear and concise way. You do not attack the messenger, get emotional and you don’t tolerate NIMBY nonsense. And most of all you are not terrified of density like so many long time residents are.

        Replacing K-Mart with 3, 4 or 5 story residential development has density, but can be affordable housing aimed at young childless workers. Believe me, many things like K-Mart are going to pop up in the future – especially from old retail uses. Sometimes it will be entire centers. We should be prepared.

        Your blind spot might be MARTA, although you are careful not to use that term instead calling for “public transportation” which is smart. Maybe we could explore some good hybrid form of public transportation – hopefully one that is owned privately and goes where people who live or work in PTC want. The city should encourage this as well and they might if the racially-charged term MARTA were not mentioned.

        Vans to and from the airport for workers and passengers seem super logical, although why 2 conference centers run their own vans on demand and don’t take outsiders seems like mismanagement of a valuable resource. And if there really is a demand for MARTA bringing workers or visitors into PTC, vans to and from East Point station might be needed.

        The city can encourage different types of van commuter options by providing parking spaces or encouraging shopping centers to set aside their unneeded spaces and also making regulation and licensing easier. Training and licensing van drivers might give some of us some peace of mind as well.

        Internal van service is provided by Arbor Terrace and Somerby for their residents, but again there is an opportunity serve all citizens. City should be able to coordinate this by making expansion easy instead of over-regulating like most cities tend to do.

        These are ideas for you Henry to consider. You seem to have a very logical almost engineering approach to things. I like that.

        • Thank you, I’m an engineer and I try to build my arguments from indisputable facts to destroy NIMBys with FACTS and LOGIC. I’m gonna keep pushing for MARTA and maybe settle for something else, but at least keep the dream alive and show that not everyone in Fayette county and Peachtree city is opposed to it.

          • Young Henry, pushing MARTA is just plain stupid. It takes years to get the state to put the funding (1% sales tax) on the ballot and then the Fayette County people have to vote it in. First vote might be in 2030 and it will fail. Second vote 2035 and that may or may not work, if our baby boom racists have died off.

            Just get off that and seek the public/private options I have proposed plus any others that can be implemented in the next few years. I’d rather have a real public transportation fix soon – long before MARTA would kick in.

          • I see you point and the wisdom of pushing for things that are realistically achievable, but I don’t want to give up on MARTA entirely.