He gave a nearly 40-minute presentation outlining the brief history of his company, his inspiration for Hotel Indigo (a franchise of InterContinental), and his vision for the six-story luxury apartment complex called Innovation Lofts he would like to build.*
Roberts began by sharing a few development highlights of his company. These included the location that Zirkonzahn USA Inc. currently calls home and Wynfield Trace, a 146-unit apartment complex that was purchased from Peachtree World of Tennis and developed in 1990.
In 1995, the company developed Rosewood Plantation apartments, which it strategically made up of two to three old houses to blend seamlessly with its neighborhood. Roberts noted the success both Wynfield and Rosewood have had, using low vacancy and good rental earnings as examples.
Most recently, the company developed Chase Bank in 2014 and Black Walnut Café in 2016, which Roberts claims is so aesthetically pleasing he even refers to it as “the prettiest restaurant building in Peachtree Corners from the back end.” He credits this to the crown moulding and natural colored brick and stone that make up the exterior, which is modeled after Avalon and The Shops Buckhead Atlanta.
Roberts concluded the background segment with a sense of pride in what his company has created in its 47 years, saying, “You may not like what I’m doing here and you may not want it, but one thing is that we do great work.”
Hotel Indigo was next up on the agenda. “The hotels in Peachtree Corners are not too good. They’re nice brands but they’re dated and they’re run down. And there isn’t really a major quality hotel,” Roberts said frankly. It’s a void he says he has wanted to fill for the past five to seven years. “I don’t want to do Hampton or a Holiday Inn. I want to do a boutique hotel that allows us to do something wonderful and exciting that fits the neighborhood,” he went on to say.
To emphasize why he thinks the project should be important to residents he cited the loss of businesses (especially technology-focused ones) and the millennial workforce to areas like Alpharetta, Sandy Springs, and Buckhead. Roberts claims the draw of these cities and parts of Atlanta are that they are developing “high energy mixed-use town centers with exciting multifamily housing options.”
Please don’t dump us into the two-story, breeze way, open air, surface parking apartment, – Charlie Roberts
Aware that much of the opposition to his project stems from city residents not wanting apartments to be built, Roberts paused after referencing the multifamily options and said to attendees, “Please don’t dump us into the two-story, breeze way, open air, surface parking apartment,” saying “That’s not what we’re building. Our business is now in the mid-rise, high-rise, multifamily for a whole different clientele.” In regards to concerns over density and height, Roberts said, “You hire anyone in America that’s a land planner and an expert on what’s going on in America they would actually tell you I should be going higher and doing more density.”
He stressed that Innovation Lofts is aimed at millennials and seniors but not families. It appeared that every aspect of the apartment concept had been geared at attracting this type of renter, from the stylish (and quite, sans children) pool to only choosing to offer 900-square-foot one bedroom apartments and 1,200-square-foot two bedroom apartments that would range between $1,500 – $2,000 (prices not conducive to families saving for a house or college he suggested).
The emphasis on a lack of additional children seemed to be an attempt to appease concerns residents have about the apartments bringing a surge of new children into Simpson Elementary School, and changing the student to teacher ratio or even resulting in overcrowding like in nearby schools.
In regards to traffic Roberts shared, “Our development will reduce traffic by 40 percent as compared to the zoning I have now…if you hear anything from me. C-2 creates more traffic than any apartments or hotel could ever make.”
As far as inspiration goes, Roberts cited the success of the live, work, play concepts. He plans to copy design elements from these developments like the taupe color scheme of Avalon, the landscaping and curb appeal of The Shops Buckhead Atlanta, and the roundabout and fountains of The Forum. He used the town center named City Springs he developed for his very own city of Sandy Springs which will include apartments and a performing arts center as an example of the possibilities.
After brief input from David Phillips, chief operating officer of Roberts Properties and Rob Binion, senior director at Lavista Associates about how the development will only help to further the city in the right direction, the meeting concluded after Roberts addressed questions from attendees.
The planning commission will hold its November meeting on the 14th.
*We previously reported that the buildings would be seven stories, as the Land Use Meeting on Nov. 6, Charlie Roberts now says the buildings will be six stories, with one story underground.