Hospital anchors West F’ville’s ‘urban core’
F’ville cautions against competition with existing city commercial areas
The latest vision for the 600-acre West Fayetteville area surrounding Piedmont Fayette Hospital was presented at a joint meeting of the Fayette County Commission and Fayetteville City Council July 9.
The new plan has been tweaked somewhat from the original concept developed for the Fayette County Development Authority, which was inked well before Pinewood Atlanta Studios entered the mix with plans to develop its 288-acre campus a short distance north of the hospital.
The new plan, drawn by the renowned Historical Concepts architecture firm of Peachtree City, calls for an urban core immediately surrounding the hospital campus, with buildings up to five or six stories tall. The intensity of use would decrease as distance continues further away from that center.
The goal is for the urban center area to be served by “slip” access roads to prevent further curb cuts and a potential mangling of traffic on Ga. Highway 54 and Veterans Parkway, according to Historical Concepts architect Ryan Yurcaba.
Fayetteville Mayor Greg Clifton said he doesn’t want new development in West Fayetteville to compete with existing retail space, especially since the city’s tax allocation district referendum was designed to help revitalize some of the city’s older shopping centers.
“Hopefully we can steer some ancillary businesses with the studio to some of these properties so they don’t all have to be on Pinewood’s site,” Clifton said.
A key feature of the overall plan is the use of a “green network” including wetlands and also parks, ponds and other features that can help connect pedestrian passageways and trails, Yurcaba said.
The eastern portion of the plan is envisioned to have residential type uses, Yurcaba said. Likewise, the Crystal Lake Park area closest to downtown Fayetteville is envisioned to be residential to mirror the eastern side of the lake, Yurcaba added.
The Lester Park area, further west of the hospital, is segregated from the rest of the West Fayetteville plan by a power-line easement and is expected to be developed as commercial, but some distance off the highway, Yurcaba said.
With the slip roads and a grid layout system proposed for the development, the idea is to keep traffic self-contained without needing to get on Hwy. 54, Yurcaba said.
Yurcaba said the hospital is excited about being part of the development process and is looking at the possibility of bringing its nursing schools and related institutes closer to them, though such might occur off the hospital’s campus.
The conceptual plan also includes a layout of multi-use paths that will require bridges and/or tunnels to avoid crossing roads at-grade, officials said. Clifton noted that the county is seeking funds for such projects from the Atlanta Regional Commission.
Such path projects would include a bridge over a wetland area north of the hospital and a tunnel underneath Veterans Parkway to allow access to the film education facility directly across from the Pinewood campus, added County Commission Chairman Steve Brown.
While the idea of making the hospital area into an urban-type development might worry some, there are other parts of the plan designed to preserve the county’s rural heritage, including opportunities to preserve barns and a chapel along with rural countryside, said Historical Concepts founder Jim Strickland.
“We’re trying to re-create old Fayette County,” Strickland said.
The nice thing is that the local company running Pinewood Atlanta Studios is aspiring to have a high-quality development, Brown added.
Brown and Clifton, who shared the microphone going back and forth in a presentation, both noted that the project could leave a nice legacy for current and future city and county residents.
In comments from other elected officials at the meeting, County Commissioner Randy Ognio said he was “a little disappointed” in the amount of land the city is proposing to annex for the West Fayetteville development. Ognio said he was worried about the new development leading to empty structures elsewhere in the city as the development becomes a center of financial activity.
In response, Fayetteville Mayor Clifton noted that the cost of developers’ attaching to the city sewer service may slow the development a bit.
County Commissioner Charles Oddo said he liked the plan, but he was concerned with overdeveloping the area.
“I’m not against growth, but just want to control it the best we can,” to curb traffic problems and other issues, in favor of “keeping that rural flavor,” Oddo said.
Brown said it’s nice that Pinewood Studios Atlanta appreciates greenery such as large trees as potential sets and backrops.
“They are more into preserving the character in and around the property than most developers probably would be otherwise,” Brown said.
Clifton added that he doesn’t see the need for much residential development in the West Fayetteville area beyond “a limited amount of housing.”
BELOW , listening to Fayetteville planner Brian Wismer (standing) are (in the foreground, front to back) Fayetteville councilmen Ed Johnson, Larry Dell, Walt White and Mickey Edwards, and Fayette County Commission Chairman Steve Brown. Photo/John Munford.