FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Forsyth County’s very own mixed-use development broke ground Feb. 5 as the community welcomed in the beginning of the project named Halcyon.
Halcyon, by real estate groups RocaPoint Partners and The Georgetown Company, is a $370 million development off Exit 12 on Ga. 400. It is expected to open fall 2017.
Phase one plans include 125,000 square feet of retail space. The commercial village will include a movie or entertainment venue, gourmet market, outdoor outfitter, up to 10 local and regional full-service and fast-casual restaurants, a boutique fitness club and service retail. Up to 65,000 square feet of loft offices and built-to-suit spaces are included in phase one of the village, as well as a 110-room hotel developed by Tharaldson Hospitality, a ground-up hotel developer. When complete, the project will have two hotels and more than 360,000 square feet of office and retail.
In addition, the development’s for-sale residences include 87 single-family units and 155 townhomes with prices starting in the high $400s. There will also be 448 luxury apartments. In total, there will be more than 3,600 residents who will live within a half-mile walk of Halcyon’s commercial village.
Patrick Leonard, a principal of RocaPoint Partners, said they are not trying to be a direct competitor of nearby Avalon in Alpharetta. Instead they are trying to be something different. Mainly they focused on the blank-slate location that would drive in lots of traffic and different demographics, he said.
After locating a space, branding was next and Leonard said their creative team came up with something unique by dubbing the development Halcyon.
“Halcyon means idyllic, affluent, joyful, carefree and prosperous,” Leonard said. “We think that’s a great definition for what we can do here. The background is a Greek myth, a tale of love that creates prosperity. Relative to this location, we think it’s a good symbol of what we can do. This whole concept came together perfectly to what we’re trying to do here.”
The team then came up with a strategy that focused on a few key points: balance of the demographics and structural appearances, respectful of nature, having a clear vision, and being active.
Phase one will feature a new trailhead welcome center for Forsyth’s Big Creek Greenway.
County governments are working together to connect the existing Forsyth and North Fulton segments, creating a continuous, nearly 40-mile trail system. Along with the greenway access, Halcyon will offer two miles of nature trails going through the 50-plus acres of community green space.
Forsyth County Planning Commissioner Jayne Iglesias stressed the last point by explaining this development will one day connect to the greenway trail.
“The other mixed-use developments don’t provide that connectivity to anything close to this,” Iglesias said.
The location sat dormant for about six years, according to Forsyth County Board of Commissioners Pete Amos. Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce President James McCoy said this location is “the heart and soul of the business community in Forsyth County. Seventy-five percent of the jobs in the community are on a very short stretch of McFarland Parkway.”
The future hotel here will help when sports tournaments are held in the county, as there are not enough rooms now in Forsyth, Amos said.
“They’re going to bring a new and exciting development to this area we haven’t known before,” Amos said. “We look forward to having a real live-work-play community in our county for the first time that the people don’t have to wander far from here, but spend all their tax dollars right here in this spot.”
Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills compared Forsyth to 20 other highly populated counties in the state, and noted Forsyth has the highest graduation rate and composite SAT score and lowest unemployment rate and crime index. While there is much to be proud of, she said, the county has to do something to maintain that, including having quality developments like Halcyon.
“You can’t have the best of everything and maintain that without having projects like this,” Mills said. Mentioning a recent visit to Avalon, where she saw shoppers spending money they could have been spending in Forsyth County, she said Halcyon will soon make that possible. “That way we will be able to keep taxes lower, build more parks, extend trails, build more libraries and roads because they cost so much money. We’ll be able to do all those things that citizens demand because we have projects like this one.”