OPINION: Let’s start with the prefix “mis-.”
Our Mayor Learnard has declared she is tired of all the ”misinformation” being bandied about during this city election season. So am I. But don’t stop there.
Let’s add some more “mis-” words to be tired of: mislead, misdirect, misguide, misspeak, misapply, misdeed — oops, that’s a noun amongst all those verbs. There’s a lot of all that stuff also going around, including the noun.
In her disciplinary letter to fellow council member Clint Holland, the mayor asserted some “factual information.” I take her at her word that she means well. Well, there were some facts, some assumptions, some slightly askew predictions.
She carefully failed to mention Mixed Use. And that’s a rather large omission.
Post 1 council candidate Tamara Moore said this — when she thought no one else was looking:
“I can’t even utter mixed use to my council. I need to get in and so does Vic [Painter] or this city is in big trouble.
“The council with the mild exception of the Mayor [Kim Learnard] are so narrow-minded and judgmental we have become the laughing stock of the metro area. There could have been so many wonderful entertainment districts in the works if we had the right council.”
Those quotes from Tamara Moore describe what she wants to happen with the council and to Peachtree City. She (and Painter) want (1) mixed use redevelopment and (2) “so many wonderful entertainment districts.”
Now you know what a vote for Moore and Painter will bring you.
Folks, here are some down to the bone facts that I can personally attest to.
1. I have lived as a backyard neighbor to an 1970s version of mixed use for more than 20 years now. It’s called Aberdeen Village Center. I am a few paces, a green belt, a width of cart path and a road width away from the back door of a thriving bar. I’m closer still to the new bowling alley. An iconic pizza restaurant is a quick walk away. All are contained within one-story, ground floor buildings. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, local farmers and craftsmen sell their products in the open space that is even closer than the pizza. I love my home and its location next to these users of the center’s mixed uses. I chose to live here and I still choose it.
2. Here’s what that early mixed use center did NOT and does NOT have: apartments, condos, residents. But in March 2019 — just four years ago — a new plan was presented to the city Planning Commission.
It was labeled a live-walk-work space. It was to contain 190 “luxury” apartments, 5,252 sq. ft. of retail, 7,000 sq. ft. of restaurant space, 391 vehicular parking spaces and 75 golf cart spaces. It consisted of seven buildings — four of the apartment buildings would be three stories high, and a fifth apartment building would be four floors high.
3. The plan for “redevelopment” just four years ago went to the planning commission, which did not like it, 5-to-0.
4. “City Senior Planner Robin Cailloux at the meeting said the city had been approached about having a grocery store and a high-rise assisted living facility located on the property. Cailloux prior to the presentation spoke briefly about City Council-endorsed potential plans to have a “downtown area” developed in the area of City Hall and west toward Ga. Highway 74. A portion of that development includes the Aberdeen Village retail area.”
5. Property owner Jim Royal decided against doing that to his customers and to Peachtree City. He reversed course, turned down the multi-millions and said no. Instead he got what he said he had always wanted in some of that old space: a bowling alley. I am seriously grateful to Jim Royal. And he still makes the best pizza ever. (There will be 12 luxury, privately owned condos in a remake of his original restaurant area. Twelve is preferable to 190.)
6. Some information to note: Modern mixed use redevelopments always consist of a minimum of two stories. Supposedly, the ground floor is for retail shops, and any stories above that are apartments, townhouses or condos or a mix.
That’s my point: what goes above the ground floor retail uses? It’s always residential. That means apartments, condos or townhouses. (Some may argue all that upper floor space could be offices. Who is building, buying or renting office space these days? Not many folks.)
Thus, by definition, any new mixed use redevelopment inside Peachtree City must contain — besides ground-floor commercial — some form of residences on the second and third floors.
So, whatever candidates Moore and Painter are saying about not wanting apartments or multi-family residences is nullified by their strong stated desire for mixed use.
What else economically viable would or could go into redeveloped village centers? Any thoughts on that?
What say you, candidates Moore and Painter? What does “redevelopment” really mean to you?
What say you, Mayor Learnard, who publicly proclaimed your refusal to accept apartments into Peachtree City?
How do you plan to do “redevelopment” with no multi-family residential component? What will occupy the second and third floors of those new buildings? Quaint shops, bars and entertainment venues on the first floor, but what’s above them?
Enquiring minds really want to know.
[Cal Beverly has been editor and publisher of The Citizen since 1993.]