For many years, the project that seemed to be the big focus in Peachtree Corners was the Town Center. But with that development mostly finished, the city is turning to other efforts to improve the quality of life for its residents.
Some of the projects that are getting the major focus these days are efforts such as new trails — one of which will have a botanical gardens-style set up near the Town Center — as well as continued efforts on some residential projects and a widening of Spalding Drive heading toward Sandy Springs.
“We have a number of initiatives going on in the city,” Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason said.
The focus of improvements in Peachtree Corners is spread around the city these days. Even spaces around the Town Center are still getting attention, but they share that attention with areas such as Spalding Drive, the crooked creek area and out toward the Chattahoochee River.
While the town green and business portions of the Peachtree Corners Town Center have been completed, there are parts of the development that are not yet finished. Construction is underway on the 74 townhomes at the Town Center, although some townhomes are already occupied by residents.
“They are all full,” Mason said. “They are not even all constructed yet and they’ve all been sold. As a mater of fact, they closed on all except two and I was told they had 20 people on the waiting list if those two didn’t close.”
There were plans for apartments by the Town Center as well, but Mason said that project was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
City has three trail projects planned
One of the major projects underway in the city is the Corners Connector Town Center trail, which is yet another under development project that ties into the Peachtree Corners Town Center.
The trail will connect to the recently opened pedestrian bridge over Peachtree Parkway that connects Town Center with The Forum. The new recreational trail is expected to be a half-mile in length and it is part of the continued development of the Town Center, and will connect it to Peachtree Corners Circle.
“It starts at where the bridge comes down on the Town Center side, by Lazy Dog restaurant, and it’s a skywalk which goes from there out over the stream, clear around to the far side of the Town Center behind Cinesbistro,” Mason said.
“It’s kind of like the Atlanta Botanical Gardens where you’ve got an elevated walk. It’s like that and it will afford a view of the stream below. It will also have a bridge going over to the development on the other side, which will eventually be developed as a very, very high-end apartment complex and Indigo Hotel. That’s what is approved for there now.”
Mason said the trail will also include a staircase that residents can use to go down to the stream level and access a boardwalk along the stream.
“We’ll do some stream restoration down there and the floor of the stream will be planted with native plants, and eventually over time, that will become our botanical gardens,” the mayor said.
The trail is expected to open for residents to begin using next year, possibly in the spring.
Mason said there are three trail projects that are being worked on in the city, including the Corners Connector Town Center Trail. The other projects include the Crooked Creek Trail and participation in efforts to develop a continuous Chattahoochee Riverlands trail along the Chattahoochee River, from Newnan to Buford Dam.
The Crooked Creek Trail is what Mason calls “the next one,” meaning it will be the next big trail project that Peachtree Corners works on once the Town Center trail is finished. The city has already been doing planning work on it, and is seeking grant funding to help pay for it.
“That starts over at the Crooked Creek Park in Sandy Springs and it’s about three (or) three-and-a-half miles and it loops up and around and joins at Technology Park, where we’ve done some trails there,” Mason said. “Now, it crosses Peachtree Corners Circle kind in the middle.
“It’s such as long area that it will take a while to build this one out because you’ve got right-of-way and you have to get environmental permits because it goes through a marshy area where it’s the Crooked Creek Stream. So, we’re probably going to break it into two pieces.”
The Chattahoochee Riverlands trail network is a project that Peachtree Corners and other communities located along the river have been invited by the Atlanta Regional Commission to participate in. Peachtree Corners segment would connect Jones Bridge Park to trails on Peachtree Parkway.
“That would take an existing sidewalk along Jones Bridge Road and widen it from the standard, what is it, 36-inches, out to 12 to 14-feet so that will be a very popular trail that leads up toward the Town Center and it will be a long a heavily populated area where there are a lot of subdivisions,” Mason said.
Spalding Drive also seeing improvements
Meanwhile, the city is working with Sandy Springs and Gwinnett County on the widening of 0.6 miles of Spalding Drive between Holcomb Bridge Road and Winters Chapel Road. The county is overseeing the project, which will include a widened bridge over Crooked Creek and see Spalding Drive widened to four lanes with a center lane.
The bridge crossing Crooked Creek was slated to be replaced as part of the two-year project, which began in early 2020.
“It’s not a long stretch, but it’s badly needed because it was just two lanes,” Mason said.
Planning and engineering is also underway for intersection improvements at Holcomb Bridge Road and Spalding Drive.
“If you’ve been at that intersection of Holcomb Bridge and Spalding ... that’s a complicated left turn (if you’re going west on Spalding),” Mason said. “Or if you’re going east on Spalding toward Holcomb Bridge, the left turn there is pretty complicated and what happens is the left turn lane backs up, plugging up the lines of traffic.”
The plan is to reroute those turns so drivers heading in either direction, who need to turn left, will get on River Exchange Drive or Whetherburn Way and make the turns there instead of at Holcomb Bridge and Spalding.
“(Georgia Department of Transportation) has proposed it because that’s GDOT’s road — Holcomb Bridge is — and the county’s road is Spalding so Peachtree Corners is partnering with the county and GDOT on that improvement,” Mason said. “They’ve put that out for comments.”
Curiosity Lab and Prototype Prime continue to attract businesses and groups
And, while Peachtree Corners is working on projects that will seem normal for Gwinnett cities, such as building trails, widening roads and attracting residential development, the city’s development is also very different in other ways.
One thing that sets Peachtree Corners apart from its sister cities in Gwinnett County is its Curiosity Lab smart cities laboratory.
The lab continually attracts businesses and entrepreneurs to Peachtree Corners, and the Atlanta Tech Park area in particular. The city recently made two announcements about Curiosity Lab’s ability to draw investment and interest from the business community to Peachtree Corners.
One of the latest economic development announcements was last month’s news that Intuitive Surgical will make a $500 million investment in a major expansion in the city that will bring 1,200 jobs.
Intuitive Surgical will develop a six-building campus at 5655 Spalding Drive, with the expansion expected to take until 2024 to complete.
“They’ve already bought several buildings and they’re already starting to construction the manufacturing and assembly location,” Mason said. “It’s a great win for the city of Peachtree Corners.”
Mason sees Intuitive Surgical’s expansion as having a ripple effect that will affect housing needs of not just Peachtree Corners, but also the surrounding cities.
“There’s just not those houses available (in Peachtree Corners),” Mason said. “We’re too built up. There’s no big subdivisions to build so this will benefit Norcross, Duluth, Berkeley Lake (and) Johns Creek.”
Another big move on the international stage was the French-American Chamber of Commerce’s recent relocation to Curiosity Lab.
The chamber’s move from the French Consulate to Peachtree Corners comes on the heels of the announcement of the French government-supported La French Tech Atlanta establishing its presence in the city. La French Tech Atlanta is an “ecosystem of startups, investors, decision-makers and community builders,” according to city officials.
La French Atlanta and the French-American Chamber of Commerce’s move to Peachtree Corners is seen as a move that lead to several French companies coming to the city to test new technologies.
“French Tech Atlanta and FACC are delighted to join the Curiosity Lab and overall Peachtree Corners smart city ecosystem,” said French Tech Atlanta president Sebastien Lafon said in a statement earlier this month. “This will enable French startups to collaborate with many innovators and prove out their technology in a unique and live environment, with real city-owned connected infrastructure that cannot be replicated in a laboratory.”