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Developer wants to build upscale apartments in Lee

LEESBURG, Ga. -- The fate of a proposed 240-unit gated, upscale apartment complex in Lee County is expected to be decided by the Lee County Commission at its regular meeting on Aug. 28.

Flint Ventures Inc. wants to build Flint Ventures Apartments on a 29-acre tract of land on the east side of Georgia Highway 133. The site is about 1,120 feet south of Forrester Parkway and is currently zoned C-2 for general business.

Jim Bacon, who represented Flint Ventures Inc. during the County Commission's work session Tuesday night, said the company purchased 322 acres in 2005 with the intention of developing the land commercially.

Bacon said opportunities to develop the land commercially have not developed. The owners recently sold about 200 acres of the land for use as a pecan orchard.

Bacon contends the added population the new apartments likely would "jump start commercial development in the area." He said the development could have as much as a $4.4 million impact to Lee County's revenues over the next 10 years. Bacon said the company now pays $1,304 a year in property taxes. Over a decade, that is $13,040.

If developed as apartments, Bacon said, the construction cost is estimated at $23 million. Recurring water and sewer fees would be $1.584 million over 10 years and property taxes would be about $2.5 million. The local option sales tax on construction, he estimated, would be $360,000.

If the commission approves the rezoning to R-2 Multi-family residential, Bacon said that the complex would be built by Graystone Development in Columbus, which already manages Creekwood Apartments in Lee County.

The company has about 2,300 apartment units in the Columbus area.

Paul Hinman with Graystone Development said the complex would include one-, two- and three-bedroom units, with the units being larger than most apartment units in the area.

For example, one-bedroom units would have between 900 and 1,100 square feet while two-bedroom units would be 1,300 to 1,460 square feet and three-bedroom units would have 1,625 to slightly more than 1,700 square feet.

Rents would be on the upper scale for the area.

Conversely, John Nix, an attorney who specializes in zoning matters and who spoke on behalf of the planning department, said rezoning the property would make it an island in an area otherwise zoned for commercial development.

"It would be a track in isolation with no connection to the overall development," Nix said.

Nix said adding the apartment complex would impact the sewer system by causing the lift station to be near capacity.

The plan when the lift station was installed was to support commercial growth, not residential growth, Nix said. "It (the apartment complex) would gobble up the commercial availability," Nix said.

Nix said projections show the complex would increase the number of students in Lee county public schools by 160 students, a figure that he says translates to about one year of normal growth in the school system.

He further said the complex would add to traffic problems in the area. He said emergency responders would be hampered going to the site because it has just one access point. Nix said the proposed apartments are not in concert with the county's land use plan. Deviation from the overall plans causes long-term harm, he said.

Bacon said Flint Ventures is willing to participate in upgrading the sewer capacity. He also said the projected growth in students would be closer to 60 t0 65 students.

Commissioners did not discuss the issue at Tuesday night's work session after the presentations by Bacon and Nix.

Comments

chinaberry25 1 year, 8 months ago

Yes, but how many children will be added to the already glut in Lee Co. Schools. This will offset any income to the county. The ad valorem taxes will never offset the expenses. We need industries, not apartments. May as well be a trailer park. Look at the demise of Cedric after all the apartments and have only added to crime in the area. Cedric area has more crime than the rest of the county combined.

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TrixibelleBento 1 year, 8 months ago

Flint Ventures Apartments? Not a very attractive name for an upscale development. They couldn't come up with a different name? The square footage sounds great though.

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LuLu 1 year, 8 months ago

That was my first thought! What a horrid name. Hopefully they will come up with something homier-sounding than that.

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bigbob 1 year, 8 months ago

Lee cty doesn't need anymore bedroom communitys so all the kids can overflow our schools. If anyone in the school system wanted to get serious you could find alot of children going to Lee cty schools who really live in DOCO. Their is even some children who's school mailing are sent to addresses out of Lee cty. Hard to figure out or friends?

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Shinedownfan 1 year, 8 months ago

I have to disagree with the DOCO students going to Lee, Lee Co. Schools have gotten ridiculous about providing proof we live here. They want power bills showing you actually live at the address you provided. They want copies of leases or mortgage papers. I think someone would have to be extremely tricky and deceptive to sneak into the Lee Co. Schools.

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bigbob 1 year, 8 months ago

I know of at least 2 using grandparents address, not that hard.

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buddy 1 year, 8 months ago

Who is in charge of commercial development in Lee County? They need to be fired! Lee county has been barking about commercial development for years and instead of business booming it's been more like a sparkler. Wasn't there a Chickfila supposed to be built near Publix breaking ground in April of this year?

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reb_arty1863 1 year, 8 months ago

Upscale until they become rundown like west albany's. Are they accepting GRFFA rent payments?

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Shinedownfan 1 year, 8 months ago

No Apartments! No Apartments! We dont need more renters.

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JustAnotherVoice 1 year, 8 months ago

STICK WITH THE PLAN! NO APARTMENTS!

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DoctorDorite 1 year, 8 months ago

I think some of the developers should take their money and re-develop Albany, make it more attractive for people to live in then we won't have this headache of garbage bills going un-collected and a rise in crime, etc etc.. This is not progress, why make Lee Co. a sprawling community ? I don't think people moved here for this kind of growth.

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LeesburgLady 1 year, 8 months ago

If you have to 'gate' anybody, put the thugs in and let the rest of us run free.

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dingleberry 1 year, 8 months ago

Upscale or not, apartments will impact the quality of life over time. Every person coming to Lee uses up far more tax revenue than contributed. And when children are involved, the shortfall increases dramatically. Lee needs residents who are not essentially transient and who plan to stick with it for the long haul through personal investment. Lee should not encourage residents who merely want a better education for their children and stay until public school is completed. While the short term may sound attractive, the long term is not.

When even upscale apartments are not filled to a developers satisfaction and financial needs, there may be a tendency to accept Sec 8 housing choice vouchers which have escalated the downfall of Dougherty. Lee would be wise to look to maintaining a higher quality of life which is what separates it from other area counties. If the quality is allowed to erode, it will suffer the fate of others in the area.

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dingleberry 1 year, 8 months ago

Lee has about 65 Sec 8 vouchers while Dougherty has about 1,600--about 24 times more. And while Lee has a healthy income level and is growing, Dougherty has a high poverty level and is growing only more poverty and crime.

The numbers speak for themselves. If moving to the area, which would you choose?

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whattheheck 1 year, 8 months ago

The principal member of this development venture is the principal in the Oakland venture. Another case of "too much too soon" as it relates to the initial hopes for commercial development. Commercial developments in bedroom communities are usually slow to develop.

A commercial development on the Grand Island golf course property might gain traction because of its location near Albany's concentrated NW population, other shopping opportunities, and the bypass. Lee itself does not have enough concentrated population to support many businesses since Albany now has the jobs and folks tend to shop more where the work is.

Lee's biggest asset is a quality of life unmatched by area counties--a bright light in a dark wilderness.

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