Newnan City of Homes NOT City of Apartments!
Newnan City of Homes NOT City of Apartments!
I am passionate when it comes to defending things that matter to me – this matters a lot. My post is not intended to be offensive, accusatory, inflammatory, or divisive. This isn’t a political or personal attack against anyone. To the best of my knowledge everything here is factual. It is my intention to provide an accurate accounting of information I have gained through either a conversation with a person identifying himself as a development company representative, information I came across while doing my own digging around online, or just common sense that we all have learned through experience.
The issue is: A sprawling 340-unit apartment complex that has been proposed to be built on property that is in our historic district.
A developer has a contract to purchase two parcels of land here in the historic district – the gravel lot between East Broad Street and Washington Street across from the train depot, and a more than five acre parcel known as the old R.D. Cole/Brown Steel/Caldwell Tank property which is directly across the tracks and also across from the train depot. This property is bordered by East Broad Street, Perry Street, Thompson Street, and Salbide Avenue. The proposal includes apartment buildings on both properties, three and four-story buildings built five feet from the side walk, and a parking garage on the larger property along with the rental units.
How this unfolded:
As our daughters and I enjoyed a day of working in our yard on Friday, a gentleman walked onto our property and introduced himself as a representative of TRG, a development firm with a contract on two prominent properties within our downtown historic district known as Cole Town. The proposal is to build a sprawling 340-unit , multi-story apartment complex on both the gravel lot beside the railroad tracks on East Broad Street and the adjacent property known as the former R.D. Cole/Brown Steel/Caldwell Tank site which sits across the tracks and borders East Broad Street, Thompson Street, Perry Street, and Salbide Avenue. I was shocked to hear of such a massive project being planned right at my front door within the historic district. I am shocked that a project with such a potential to change the face of the downtown historic districts could remain so secretive that none of us knew about it. I did not go looking for trouble, but I feel I have to speak out and let others who own property in this area know what is being planned. In order to protect what I believe is a threat to our property values and our quality of life, I am speaking up respectfully to our elected officials and those responsible making such decisions and potential changes in zoning. I am not against development or change, but I am against this development. Rental property such as a sprawling apartment complex does not fit in the historic district of our downtown and will have a negative impact on the area now and for years to come. This project might be a good choice in a larger, more urban area such as Atlanta. Newnan’s downtown historic district is not the same. Our historic downtown is charming and that is because of a mixture of beautiful architecture found in the homes and small businesses that make up our downtown. We don’t have big box retail or high-density rental property in our downtown historic for good reason!
When we built our home two years ago, we adhered to guidelines that we were given to make our home fit into the historic district and we are proud to say people ask us if it was a remodel of a historic home. Since that time there have been many homes in our neighborhood that have been restored and a few more that have been built. Within this area there are beautiful historic homes of various size, construction of new homes and luxury townhomes, and tasteful renovations of storefronts – all of these designed to be cohesive and respectful of the historic district. New businesses have opened within our historic district. There is a distinct difference in all of these projects and large-scale rental property being built in our downtown historic districts. A proposal by one of our own local residents to renovate an existing property downtown to open an event center was denied initially. The project was eventually approved after the owner/developer made changes satisfying officials that it would be cohesive with the downtown historic district. The event center will be a wonderful addition to downtown Newnan. I have seen renderings and I have to say if this was a problem, I cannot fathom how this sprawling rental property of new construction could ever fit in since there is literally nothing like it anywhere in our historic downtown. A massive 340-unit rental property might be well-suited for larger, more urban areas such as Atlanta or Nashville where it is not unusual to find such high-density rental property or to find a big box retailer such as Publix or Staples on the corner. In Newnan, our larger retail would be more like Arnall Grocery. That’s the charm of living and shopping in our historic downtown.
Newnan is the “City of Homes,” right? The magnificent homes, historic charm, excellent schools, and vibrant downtown were significant reasons why we chose to build our home in the downtown historic district we know as Cole Town. We love our neighborhood. We are not bothered by the train, the vacant lot or the empty R.D. Cole/Brown Steel/Caldwell Tank property. The building has historical significance. I would much rather look at it than a mega development of rental property and everything that comes with it. How could we even consider this in our historic district? A large rental apartment complex being built on two lots located squarely in the downtown Cole Town historic district, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is no more appropriate than a big box store being built on the square. The downtown historic district of Newnan is rich in historic charm because of the preservation of our historic neighborhoods and business district. It is time to speak up. Will Newnan protect and preserve our downtown historic districts and our “City of Homes,” or will we allow this sprawling apartment complex to be built within the historic district and become the “City of Rentals,” instead? Do we want our historic charm to be preserved or do we want an aging rental property in the heart of our historic district?
I respect the right of the property owner to sell this property and a potential buyer’s right to develop this property, however, any potential development must align with the downtown historic district and must meet specific criteria as required by the City of Newnan. As property owners, we have specific rights. The proposed development should not be a detriment to the property values and quality of life of others who live, work, and pay taxes here. Maintaining the integrity and charm of the downtown historic district is a responsibility of our elected officials and local zoning and planning. I believe making sure they do their job is our job as stakeholders who own homes and businesses here.
Both of these properties are located in the historic district, both are listed within the Cole Town Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior. This is significant. Specific regulations apply regarding any demolition, construction, or repair.
If this sprawling apartment complex with three and four-story buildings and a parking deck is built, it will cause significant and lasting harm not only to my property values and that of my neighbor across the street. This project will impact all of us who own homes or businesses within the historic districts downtown as well as those who work, shop, eat, and drive nearby. Traffic, infrastructure, parking, and property values will all be affected. Emergency services will be affected. Schools will be affected. There are hard-working people here who have invested considerable time and money while working within the constraints of the downtown historic district to improve our properties and promote future improvement and growth. Literally no one in the “City of Homes” wants to see the downtown historic district become the “City of Rentals.” Building this sprawling apartment development within the downtown historic district is the equivalent of building a big box store on the town square in the middle of the historic business district.
I feel I have done my due diligence to determine the potential impact of this development on my neighborhood. I am meeting with representatives from the development company Thursday evening. I will pass along any information they provide and any other information including meeting dates and our next steps in being heard.