For Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason, the city’s newly opened Town Center is a place where residents will make memories for generations to come.
For Jeff Fuqua, the developer who worked with the city to bring it to fruition, it’s a model for similar town center projects to follow for years to come.
But Saturday was a day to just celebrate for both men and the city as a whole as Peachtree Corners officials formally dedicated the Town Center and its children’s plaza as well as raise the flags for the first time on the city’s veterans memorial. The development has been in the works for years, dating back to the first few years after the city was founded in 2012.
“It’s an enormous relief to see the citizens walking around, having a good time,” Mason said. “We finally did it.”
The Town Center has been technically open for months, as restaurants and retailers gradually opened their doors since last fall, but Saturday was an opportunity to make everything official and to celebrate the recent completion of Peachtree Corners’ town green and amphitheater.
The celebration began with the unveiling of plaques at the entrance to the town green and a children’s plaza, as well as the formal ribbon cutting for the development.
There was also a flag raising ceremony at the city’s new veterans memorial — which still has some interactive elements that have to be installed before it is finished — with the Norcross High School Junior ROTC unit raising the flag while other students from the school sang the national anthem. Cub Scouts led attendees in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Afterward, there was a short parade led by the Norcross High School marching band and including local Girl Scout, Cub Scout and Boy Scout troops and packs as well as local roller hockey teams.
Saturday night, the city hosted the first-ever concert on the green with Atlanta Rhythm Section providing the entertainment, followed by a drone light show.
“You can never replace fireworks, but in a city like Peachtree Corners with a technology emphasis, doing something like a lighted drone show set to music — it’s something different, it’s innovative and remarkable, kind of like our (city) tagline,” Mason said.
Mason recounted how the city went from being established and getting set up to beginning the process of acquiring and planning the development of the Town Center property, which is located across Peachtree Parkway from The Forum shopping center.
Mason said the property was going to be developed entirely as apartments, but the city’s founders decided they wanted to find a use that they felt would be better for the city. He said City Councilman Alex Wright came up with the idea of the city buying the property and developing it to meet its own needs.
“It was sort of like we bought it without a real vision of what we wanted to do with it, other than a town center,” Mason said.
The result is a mixed-use development that has several restaurants already as well as retail shops, a chef-driven dine-in movie theater, green space for city events and housing, which is still under construction.
Peachtree Corners will hold its first-ever summer concert series on the lawn this summer.
“I know it sounds corny to say it, but (the Town Center is) that place to gather and make memories,” Mason said. “You know the urban planning folk call it place-making, but that’s kind of a sterile term. My wife, Debbie, labeled it a ‘place to make memories’ and that’s what we really need here.”
There will be plenty of places for Peachtree Corners residents to eat during trips to the Town Center.
Fuqua said about half of the restaurants have opened so far. He said there will eventually be 17 restaurants in all.
Fuqua — whose company, Fuqua Devleopment, has had a hand in some big developments in metro Atlanta, including The Battery at the Atlanta Braves’ stadium in Cobb County — said the Town Center has already exceeded expectations for how it would turn out. He said he believes it’s a model that can be used elsewhere in municipal development projects.
“It’s a little cozier, a little different scale project,” he said. “It’s a pretty nice 20-acre project that you could put in a lot of places."
The developer said restaurant owners and retailers who have already opened in the Town Center have reported strong customer business so far.
“Along with the city and the park, and the constant activation of this park, it’s going to be better than we ever thought — and it looks better than we ever thought,” Fuqua said. “And to have open so strong immediately — it usually takes these guys six months to a year to get their legs and find their customer base, but everybody is reporting great sales.”