Horizontal apartments — lipstick on the multi-family pig in Fayetteville?

Cathy Vaught
Cathy Vaught.

The buzz had already been circulating since early December about Avilla Fayetteville, the proposed development of 265 cottage style rental homes on 30+ acres of land at the intersection of Ginger Cake Road and Highway 54 in Fayetteville. Steve Brown and I have already written opinion pieces on this. The story continues.

I was recently made aware of a copy of a letter sent by Mr. Sean Rust, the Senior Development Manager of NexMetro Communities, inviting local homeowners to an “open house community meeting” between 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 16, where they would get the chance to discuss this “proposed luxury lease cottage style community.” I went to that meeting.

There was no formal presentation, but there were about seven easel-mounted poster boards, detailing concept plans, photo renditions of the proposed architecture, and their basis of analysis as to why prospective residents would find living in this type of community an attractive alternative to single family homes. townhouses or traditional apartments. NexMetro representatives, including Mr. Rust, were on hand to speak with attendees.

Horizontal Apartments Explained & Projected Building Trends

The proposed homes are what is described as “horizontal apartments,” which means they are not an integral part in a block of “vertical” apartment buildings, but rather individual “cottages.” Mr. Rust told me that horizontal apartments are trending in the western part of the country. With NexMetro’s main office located in Phoenix, Arizona, that is probably a true statement. Horizontal apartments are a relatively new concept in this area.

A statement on one of the poster boards entitled “Apartment Developer and Investor Survey” quoted the “lack of housing options ranging in price and product type” that “can negatively impact our economy” as a threat identified in the Fayetteville 2023 Strategic Plan.

Another poster board displayed the results of an Apartment Developer and Investor Survey conducted by John Burns Research and Consulting published on December 22, 2023, included this statement: “Very few apartment projects are breaking ground, and deliveries will slow dramatically after this wave of developments wraps up. The percentage of respondents who expect apartment starts in their metro to decline over the next 12 months jumped from 66% in 3Q23 to 81% in 4Q23.” It appears that they are talking about traditional apartment buildings here.

Because of this, NexMetro stresses the need for horizontal apartments like Avilla Fayetteville in metro Atlanta.

A bar chart showed the number of “coming soon” build-to-rent units as follows: 629 horizontal apartments, 1,292 mixed, 4,429 single family detached, 192 single-level rowhomes, 603 TBD, and 2,296 townhomes. Multifamily construction starts were down 60% last year in suburban Atlanta. But Atlanta was also highlighted as the “top city for rentals to watch in 2024.” This would portend an increase in renters for various reasons versus home buyers.

Who would want to live in Avilla Fayetteville?

According to data supplied by NexMetro, it would be:

• Professional millennials, mid-life singles/couples and Boomers.

• Residents willing to pay 7% to 15% more in rent than typical Class A, top amenity apartments.

• The 75% who work full-time, to include two-income couples.

They are “renters by choice”, those who can afford to own a home, but “choose not to at this point in their lives.” One third of Avilla residents would be “empty nesters and retirees.”

Avilla Fayetteville is offering a gated community with energy-efficient homes, private back yards, front porches and upscale features such as security locks, state of the art appliances and amenities such as swimming pools and dog parks.

Avilla Fayetteville is just one of many planned Avilla communities, which are advertised as “great neighbors.”

The location and potential for more traffic congestion, adding to the already increased traffic along the Highway 54 corridor is a major concern. Overcrowding is another concern. And aesthetics? This neighborhood would also be visible from Highway 54.

These are some of the reasons why Avilla Fayetteville would not be a “good neighbor,” even though there are some who may see this development as a positive alternative to “traditional” apartments.

What do I think? I do not think this is the best idea for Fayetteville, especially with this proposed location, for the reasons I cited above. Overcrowding, with 265 cottages on 30+ acres. Increased traffic congestion. Seeing it from the highway.

This leads to another question. Are gated communities what we want to see in Fayetteville, especially this type of gated community with horizontal apartments? It would be just another multi-family apartment development with transient residents being thrust upon us within the city limits. Think about it.

Citizens will be able to share their views at the next Fayetteville Planning and Zoning Commission meeting to be held on Tuesday, January 23, 6:00 p.m. at Fayetteville City Hall. This matter will also be brought up before the Fayetteville City Council on Thursday, February 15, at 6:00 p.m. at Fayetteville City Hall. Please come and make your voice heard!

I am eager to see the outcome of both meetings.

[Cathy Vaught is a Fayetteville correspondent for The Citizen.]


  1. FYI:
    The Planning and Zoning meeting that was scheduled for this past Tuesday, that would address the huge apartments development at Gingercake and 54, will now address the issue on February 27th!!!
    Please come out and fight for your community.

  2. Thank you Ms. Vaught for keeping a watchful eye on current and future plans for Fayetteville and county. I look forward to reading future articles from you.

    Many do not realize what The Atlanta Regional Commission is and its goals for Fayette County. Perhaps you can write an article explaining to me and others and tell us who the Regional Commissioners are and their role in urbanizing Fayetteville and county? Thank you again.

  3. Some of these concerns seem strange – these appear to be very nice & expensive apartments – seeing them from Hwy 54 doesn’t strike me as a concern. Likewise, “transient” citizens in this type of housing don’t worry me much, this doesn’t look like a flop house. I don’t know why anyone else should care if this is a gated community.

    All that said, the impact on traffic is worth consideration and whether this sets a precedent that becomes a problem down the road I understand.

  4. Totally agree. As a millennial, wife and mom, I do not want to see this type of housing in my community. I intentionally left the city (Atlanta) for a suburban/rural experience. Thanks for posting the next meeting information.