The cloak has fully lifted off one of the most ambitious development proposals in suburban Atlanta history, revealing a grandiose mixed-use vision for Forsyth County that looks like Avalon meets Buckhead, with a dash of downtown Atlanta’s arena district sprinkled in.
Expected to eventually span 100 acres and cost a reported $2 billion, The Gathering at South Forsyth is being pitched as a world-class entertainment destination that would double as a sparkling gateway to Forsyth County for anyone headed north. But exactly how it would be funded isn't yet known.
The Gathering’s development team formally introduced the project at a Forsyth County Commission work session on Tuesday. They also went public with a bevy of new renderings and other visuals that paint the project as a sleek, master-planned, urban-style utopia—but that lack any reference to an NHL hockey franchise, which the project is expected to attempt to lure.
Also missing from the Gathering’s coming-out party were details pertaining to what public funding, tax breaks, or other incentives developers might be requesting from the county, as the AJC reported.
The board quizzed project heads about public funding expectations—and one commissioner, Laura Semanson, cautioned against writing “a big fat check”—but ultimately voted 4-0 to hear the Gathering’s zoning request at their May 9 meeting, where public comments will be accepted, per the newspaper.
Nobody’s guaranteeing the 18,500-seat arena planned as the heart of the district will attract Atlanta’s first NHL team since the Thrashers flapped off to Canada in 2011. Project heads maintain the Gathering can thrive without an anchor tenant, and Tuesday’s presentation saw the arena portion being used for a variety of non-sports events, including a graduation and Cirque du Soleil.
The Gathering is the brainchild of car dealership mogul Vernon Krause, owner of Krause Auto Group and a longtime Forsyth resident who reportedly did not attend Tuesday’s session. Project officials say Krause’s motivation for pushing the mixed-use district in Forsyth County is to give back to the growing, local community. County statistics show Forsyth’s current 260,000-resident population exploded by 132 percent between 2000 and 2019, making it Georgia’s fastest-growing county this century.
The project’s site—located along Ga. Highway 400, where Ronald Reagan Boulevard meets Union Hill Road—was originally zoned for a regional mall development 15 years ago that didn’t take off.
As part of Tuesday’s work session, the development team detailed exactly what could take shape there instead:
- 1.6 million square feet of office and retail space
- 750,000 square feet of arena space with a capacity of 18,500 seats
- 100,000-square-foot community center
- 7,500-square-foot fire station
- 450 hotel rooms with meeting space
- 2,400 residential units
- A range of family-friendly entertainment, retail, and dining experiences
- Deck parking
- Open community spaces with several water features
- 1.2-mile connective trail along the Big Creek Greenway
In the gallery above, find two dozen images supplied to Urbanize Atlanta by the development team—or captured from a short promotional video—that lend a sense of how the Gathering could eventually look and function, should all the chips fall into place.
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