When Isakson Living unveiled the Peachtree Hills Place project in 2005, neighbors welcomed it. Then the recession hit, and in 2010 the developer placed the residential community for adults ages 55 or older on hold.
Now some homeowners in the Peachtree Hills neighborhood are questioning what shape the project will finally take and how the 23-plus acres located between Peachtree Road and Piedmont Road will be maintained in the interim.
They voiced their concerns to Kevin Isakson, Isakson Living’s director of sales and marketing, when he addressed the June Peachtree Hills Civic Association board of directors meeting.
“The good news is that we still plan to re-launch Peachtree Hills Place,” Isakson said. “We weren’t held up because of lack of interest or demand. We were held up due to our inability to finance construction.
“We worked for 18 months to find a plan to develop this property, but the recession has dragged on a lot more than most of us anticipated.”
Isakson told the group that similar communities like Canterbury Court and Lenbrook were funded using tax-exempt bonds. He said there are a couple of things that need to happen before the Peachtree Hills Place project could be converted to a non-profit venture. The bank BB&T is expected to foreclose on the property this month, which would be the initial step.
But homeowners at the meeting said they were worried about both the short-term and long-term problems created by the stalled development. They said the property hasn’t been adequately cared for and cited unlocked gates, fallen trees, a discarded mattress and abandoned shopping carts as issues affecting both safety and property values in the neighborhood.
They voiced their support for the original project, but expressed concerns that if the community were to operate as a non-profit, then Peachtree Hills Place residents wouldn’t have to pay property taxes.
Peachtree Hills resident David Goldin later said, “Millionaire real estate developers and people living in luxurious homes should pay their fair share of taxes for police and fire protection services just like the rest of us.”
If the project were recast as a non-profit, Isakson Living would develop the project, but not own the property, Isakson said.
“We can’t dictate how Isakson Living structures its organization,” said Kristy Gillman, president of the Peachtree Hills Civic Association. “We want to work with them to develop the property as originally planned.”
According to Isakson, it will probably take two years to pre-sell the approximately 150 homes needed before construction can begin. After that phase, it will take “20 months or so to construct the project.”
He added, “Our goal is to get as many priority reservations as we can before the conversion process begins.” Ninety homes currently are reserved. “There are a lot of contingent factors in there because this is still a challenging economy.”