Retail center slated for area near Beaver Ruin

LAWRENCEVILLE - A southern stretch of Satellite Boulevard marked by wetlands and wildlife is about to change.

Developers have plans for a 300,000-square-foot shopping center on one 26-acre tract near Beaver Ruin Road, while on an adjacent parcel developers want to build 372 apartments.

The shops in the retail center would go on a strip of land that extends a half-mile along Satellite Boulevard, said Jin Ho Chung, senior manager of Cornerstone Investment Group LLC, which is doing the development.

Financing for the project is in place and construction will begin after tenants are signed up - probably by this summer, Chung said.

The $40 million development will not be anchored by a big-box store, like a Kroger or a Home Depot, Chung said, but it will have a golf driving range.

"It's not a typical shopping center with a grocery store," Chung said of the project that has been dubbed The Paragon at Satellite.

County Commissioner Lorraine Green, whose district includes both sites, said she is familiar with the retail center plans.

"They have some very exciting plans that are a bit different for the area," Green said.

"They will definitely be a positive. It's not going to be your same old commercial shopping center. I think it will be new and innovative and combine some uses that are exciting."

Cornerstone bought the land in December from Wayne Mason, a prominent metro Atlanta developer and former county chairman. The tract is zoned for commercial use, which means the project will not have to be approved by county commissioners.

At 300,000 square feet, the retail center's combined floor space would almost equal that of three Wal-Mart Supercenters.

A site plan on the group's Web site shows four, two-story retail buildings and a golf driving range at the center of the development, and seven freestanding buildings on parcels along Satellite Boulevard.

Protected wetlands spread out behind Cornerstone's land and bump up against Interstate 85. Jung said the development group is interested in linking them to the shopping center with walking trails. The retail center site is free of wetlands, he said.

On an adjacent tract that backs up to I-85, York Residential wants to build a 372-unit apartment complex dubbed Menlo Creek, according to county paperwork.

A message left Tuesday with York was not returned, but its land is already zoned for apartments. An apartment complex already occupies a neighboring piece of land.

Last year developers targeted another nearby piece of land for 326 apartments, but county commissioner rejected a rezoning needed for that project that would have gone at the corner of Satellite and Beaver Ruin Road.

Afterwards, the developers sued the county commission, seeking to have the decision overturned. The court case is still pending, said the developers' attorney, Lee Tucker.

Homeowners opposed the apartments for fear they would harm the wetlands and displace deer that roam the heavily wooded land.

In the past the county had considered buying the land for use as a park.

While the shopping center plans appear to be steaming along, plans for a high-rise office building and a hotel on the other side of I-85 are in neutral.

County commissioners issued a special-use permit in September so the 12-story office building with shops and restaurants on the first two floors could go at Shackleford Road and Steve Reynolds Boulevard.

Developer Michael Kim said Tuesday the project called Zen Urban Resort is on hold, but declined to say why.