Residential and retail complex planned in Atlanta suburbs

A Lawrenceville developer plans to build a major mixed-use complex next to the Del Webb retirement community on the Gwinnett and Hall county line in Braselton.

The 60-acre project would include more than 600 new homes, 350,000 square feet of office space and 450,000 square feet of upscale retail, similar to The Forum in Norcross or The Avenue Webb Gin in Lawrenceville, said Eric Masaschi, vice president of Vintage Communities.

About 60 percent of the project would be located in Gwinnett, with the rest in Hall, he said.

Because of its size, the proposal needs approval from regional planners, as well as those in Hall and Gwinnett counties. It's unlikely Hall and Gwinnett planners would evaluate the request until mid-year or later. The company has not yet filed a rezoning request with Gwinnett.

The project, tentatively called Thompson Mill Village at Deaton Creek, would draw customers from the 1,200 planned homes at the retirement community, and will possibly include medical offices to serve the planned Northeast Georgia Medical Center campus planned for land next to the mixed-use site.

It would all be located between the existing Thompson Mill Road and the new route of Ga. 327 just to the north.

That road is scheduled to begin construction no earlier than 2010, according to Teri Pope, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation. When complete, the road through the area will be a four-lane divided highway, Pope said.

Although plans aren't yet complete, early concepts call for offices and residences above retail spaces, as well as free-standing retail and possibly office space, Masaschi said.

Deaton Creek resident Herb Rusk said he and neighbors are looking forward to having restaurants and such within walking distance.

"We're very enthused," he said.

Gwinnett County Planning Commissioner Floy Jumper, one of two commissioners representing the area, said he also was impressed with the project after an initial briefing.

"My initial response to it was pretty positive. As long as it's done well I think it would be an asset to the community," he said.

The area is largely residential, with some large-scale developments such as the Reunion Golf Club and subdivision. It is also near the Chateau Elan hotel and conference center.

Although the scope of the project is unprecedented for the area, Masaschi said this kind of mixed-use development is needed.

"Literally, the Del Webb residents could walk to this and they'd have their restaurants, their office, their retail," he said.

Taken together, the Del Webb community and the mixed-use campus will stretch over nearly 600 acres.

Most of the Del Webb complex is made up of single-family detached homes. Builder Pulte Homes has built about 400 of the planned 1,200 homes so far, Masaschi said.