Metro Atlanta’s original utopian, master-planned wellness community is preparing for a mixed-use growth spurt and has taken a key step toward lining up financing to make it happen.

Serenbe, a growing biophilic community southwest of Atlanta near the toe-tip of rural Fulton County’s boot, so to speak, has unveiled plans for a new retail, lodging, and wellness-focused resort district.

Situated on acreage at Serenbe’s northeastern flank, the unnamed project calls for a “world-class” destination hotel and wellness resort, a second resort hotel, retail, office space, and a multifaceted aging-in-place wellness campus, as officials relayed this week.

The Development Authority of Fulton County has approved a $298-million bond inducement, a first step before construction financing can be issued, as a milestone in advancing the concept.

DAFC officials described the next Serenbe phase as “visionary,” “ambitious and transformative,” and “vibrant and sustainable” in announcing the funding measure Tuesday. Board members expect the development to inject economic, social, and educational benefits that could “revolutionize the landscape” of Chattahoochee Hills.

Serenbe reps tell Urbanize Atlanta they expect the project’s initial phase to break ground late in the first quarter of 2024, bringing about 100 rentals total. Roughly 40 of those units will be in a multifamily building alongside 60 single-family homes with no age restrictions.

Overview of the aging-in-place hub showing cottage and courtyard residences (middle and bottom left) alongside a mixed-use complex, medical building, pools, a large gym, and more. Courtesy of Serenbe

Renderings for aging-in-place facilities were provided, while designs for the hotel components are still being compiled, with more details expected to come late this year, according to Serenbe officials.

But the first phase could eventually include much more. Three components were broken down by project officials as follows:

1. A world-class destination hotel and wellness resort: This section will feature an 80-key destination hotel, 28 luxurious villas, multiple indoor and outdoor restaurants with seating for more than 328 guests, roughly 18,600-square-foot world-class spa and wellness facility, approximately 5,300 square feet of multi-function meeting space, and a publicly accessible "green roof" dedicated to showcasing building innovation and organic produce for "roof to table" dining.

2. Resort-style hotel, retail, and office space: This part of the EDO [Economic Development Organization] will encompass a mixed-use 109-key resort-style hotel, approximately 7,800 square feet of retail space, meeting facilities, restaurants serving more than 250 guests, and more than 300 accessible parking spaces for the general public.

3. Aging-in-place wellness campus: The EDO will introduce an innovative wellness campus providing approximately 88,600 square feet of service-based housing (apartments and cottages), street-level retail, medical offices/facilities, and a restaurant.

According to DAFC, which has undergone public scrutiny and a leadership overhaul for tax breaks perceived as being too generous in recent years, the $298-million EDO project will generate estimated tax revenues of $2.09 million yearly.

The sites in question currently have a fair market value of just $134,880, according to DAFC officials.  

Planned look of the mixed-use component. Courtesy of Serenbe

The project is expected to generate about 1,700 construction jobs and 500 new permanent full-time jobs once complete. More than 60 percent of that workforce will be hired locally from the South Fulton area, with average hourly wages of $26.80, or $51,457 annually, per DAFC.

More than 75 percent of permanent employees are expected to undergo “world-class hospitality training” that could lead to career advancement. Another agreement goes that the EDO will establish a $250,000 annual Community Impact Fund—using a portion of the resort’s revenue—to support local community and environmental projects. Those will include conservation, waste management, and small business grants, according to DAFC.

Described as a New Urbanism pioneer in Georgia with an agrarian bent, Serenbe has been transforming former woodlands and pastures 35 minutes southwest of Atlanta into a variety of neighborhoods and walkable districts, or hamlets, for nearly two decades. The first Serenbe home was finished in 2004, and the community now counts more than 650 residents.

Find a closer look at this EDO's plans in the gallery above. 

[CORRECTION: 5:50 p.m., August 2: A previous version of this article misidentified the Serenbe project's name.] 

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