New mixed-use development will center on outdoor space

Forsyth County workers, residents and visitors are eagerly anticipating the scheduled summer 2019 opening of Halcyon, a $370 million, 135-acre mixed-use project that will include more than a dozen restaurants, two hotels and other amenities.

Atlanta Business Chronicle spoke with Phil Mays, principal with RocaPoint Partners, the developers of Halcyon, for the latest on the project.

What led you to Forsyth County for this project? Forsyth County is one of the fastest growing and affluent counties in the U.S. When selecting the location for the project, we wanted to choose somewhere that would offer a unique setting for a mixed-use development that was unparalleled in the current community. Forsyth County provided the perfect location to introduce a wide variety of mixed-use amenities. With a diverse retail mix, outdoor spaces, loft office spaces and residential offerings, Halcyon will fit into the Forsyth area and introduce an unprecedented mixed-use experience. Forsyth County also offered sites with direct access to the Big Creek Greenway, which was an important part of our selection for Halcyon. Trail-oriented developments not only promote a healthy, active lifestyle for residents, employees and visitors, but they also historically achieve attractive returns for investors.

Who are your partners in this project and how are you all working together? RocaPoint and The Georgetown Company are leading the development. Our partners for Halcyon include Wakefield Beasley and Associates, Paulson Mitchell, JLL, Newmark Knight Frank and Winter Construction. Greystar is developing two multifamily buildings and Heritage Hospitality is developing two hotels, while Monte Hewett Homes and Edward Andrews Homes are building single-family homes and townhomes. We’re all working well together, though the site is definitely busy as we are all focused on the summer 2019 opening date. It takes a tremendous amount of planning and open communication, and all the teams meet regularly to manage this process.

How did you come to determine what types of amenities would be part of Halcyon? We wanted to focus on the outdoor vision of the project. With the Big Creek Greenway being such a central component to Halcyon, we wanted to create a place where members of the community could walk along the Greenway, and then have the chance to walk around the retail shops, like Canoe and Totally Running, or drink a beer from Cherry Street Brewing. With Halcyon, we wanted to focus on a variety of amenities where guests could seamlessly embrace the outdoors, whether that is the Greenway, green spaces or sitting on the patio of one of the several restaurants or Market Hall, which is designed to be an open, airy building. The wi-fi connected pocket parks create a chance for office tenants to work outdoors and take a break from the confines of office space. As nature is the forefront of Halcyon’s vision and design, we focused on creating areas that would provide opportunities for outdoor activities, gatherings and other health-and-wellness-centered offerings.

Why do you think Halcyon is so highly anticipated in the area? Halcyon is bringing a new vision of a mixed-use development to the community. During our planning, we looked at how we could bring the most value to the area. By focusing on bringing in experienced chefs, new-to-market retail and restaurants, as well as regional favorites, we are creating a natural gathering spot for the area. With direct access off Georgia 400, connectivity to trails and growing neighborhoods, Halcyon is in a prime spot to fill a void in the area. It’s a highly amenitized, walkable village where you can live, work, eat, shop and explore.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced with this project? As with any large-scale, complex mixed-use development, the initial challenges were securing the location for the project, assembling the best team and partners, and working with the county government to get the project off the ground and moving smoothly. With thoughtful planning and working with the community to ensure we were truly adding value to the area, it takes time to see the physical and structural progress of the project, but we are excited to see the framework taking shape, and I hope those passing by the site notice how the site is rising.

How have you worked with the county government and business communities on Halcyon? Throughout the early stages of development, we have had the chance to collaborate with both the Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce and Forsyth County. The chamber president and CEO, James McCoy, has been a key proponent in ensuring the project moves forward smoothly. Working with the chamber enabled us to listen to the views of constituents of Forsyth County throughout the entire process, and our development is better because of it. We thoroughly enjoy talking to the Rotary Club and other organizations; it’s a great way to establish two-way communication with the business community. The Forsyth County government was helpful in the process of approving the open container ordinance, which will allow visitors to extend their time and enjoy walking around Halcyon with a beverage in hand.

What is the latest on construction of the project, and the timeline as to what will open when? Construction is well underway, and we are excited to see the vertical progress of CMX, the multifamily buildings and the retail village. As progress continues to move forward, we are looking forward to the summer 2019 grand opening.

There are so many mixed-use projects throughout the metro Atlanta area. What do you think makes this particular one unique? The biggest differentiating factor of Halcyon is the vision of the project and the dedication to creating an atmosphere that resembles an outdoor village. During the initial stages of planning, we knew that creating a place that was centered around community, outdoor spaces and connecting with the Big Creek Greenway would be a space that was very unique to the area and would draw people in. We have been working to create a balanced tenant mix that reflects the vision of Halcyon. Several tenants that plan to open are first-to-market [retail establishments] or have envisioned new concepts for Halcyon, such as Tocayo from [restauranteur] Louis Soon. Between our restaurant, retail and service tenants, our team has been intentional about who would attract visitors and encourage dwell time on-site. I also think our Market Hall is a wonderful component, since it allows for seamless interaction with the outdoors. It’s not just one enclosed box. Rather, it’s a bustling atmosphere filled with experienced chefs and new concepts, with the experience easily able to spill onto the patio and retail greenspace. Just as we are doing with our retail tenants, we are working to create an environment for office tenants that allows employees to enjoy time outdoors and a chance to utilize all surrounding amenities. Throughout Halcyon, we are implementing pocket parks and outdoor green spaces that will offer wi-fi connection.

Any exciting “news” you can share with us that people may not know about yet that will be happening around that time? What we’re most excited about is the mix of tenants that are being assembled. From services -- such as Allure Nail Bar, Uni K Wax and Raw Bronzing Studio -- to our retail tenants -- such as Nina + Leigh, Lizard Thicket, Willow + Jane, RW Design & Exchange and Totally Running -- and all of the Market Hall and restaurant tenants secured, we can’t wait to share these offerings and more with the community.