The Highlands, Georgia Hightway 411, 41 and State Route 20, Cartersville, Georgia

Plans unveiled for $100M mixed-use project near Savoy Museum View fullscreen

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The proposed Highlands Community Development at the intersection of Highway 411 and Highway 20 would comprise about 75 acres and include more than $100 million worth of residential and commercial investments.

Barry Henderson has been waiting more than half a decade to launch what he calls the “Highlands Community Development.” And with construction on the Savoy Automobile Museum picking up, the president of JB Henderson Properties, Inc. decided now is the most opportune time to unveil his aspirations for the mammoth mixed-use development along the intersection of highways 20 and 411 in Cartersville.

In total, Henderson said the Highlands Community Development will span about 75 acres, with almost 400 residential units and more than 100,000 square feet of retail, restaurants and other freestanding businesses planned.

Ultimately, he said he expects the full development to represent an economic investment exceeding $100 million.

“Assuming the economy stays like it is, I would say we could probably have this project almost built out in five years — it’s that quick,” he said.

Developments have already began popping out of the ground on one roughly 30-acre parcel, including a Speedway gas station abutting Peeples Valley Road. “It’s not a pie-in-the-sky kind of thing,” Henderson said. “All this property is ready now to start developing and selling lots.”

That includes a soon-to-be-announced national retailer, which will take up residence in an approximately 15,000-square-foot building slightly south of the new gas station. Henderson said that retailer is under contract, but due to the stipulations of a confidentiality agreement, he cannot name the occupant at this time.

Still, he said he expects the announcement to make waves throughout the local community.

“That’s really going to give us some presence,” he said.

Across the road from the Speedway are 13 completely developed acres near Tractor Supply Co.

“On that corner right there is a Family Savings Credit Union, they will be moving from their existing facility and making their corporate office right here,” Henderson said. “They will make up their mind as to when they will start construction this December. Hopefully, it will be the first of next year.”

Other possibilities for that particular parcel, Henderson said, includes a very thematically appropriate eatery.

“We have talked to a restaurant that has an automotive theme to it, and they are very interested because they want to be across the street from the entrance to the museum,” he said.

Although the Savoy Automobile Museum isn’t technically a part of Henderson’s mixed-use complex, he nonetheless said the attraction factors prominently in his development plans.

“What the museum does for us is that the people who go there are going to want a place to go eat, or a place to potentially shop,” he said. “We are certainly fortunate to have it there, because it’s just such a centerpiece for this whole area right here.”

Henderson said he wants his development to build off other neighboring properties as well — namely, Cartersville Medical Center and Georgia Highlands College.

Hence, the plans for both a 210-unit apartment complex and a senior living complex with about 53 units.

“What we’re trying to do now is create a more pedestrian-oriented [place], more of an area where people have a sense of community,” Henderson said. “In times' past, what you would end up having up here is more of the old-line, commercial shopping center with a food anchor. Developers are now going back to the town center — it’s called ‘new urbanism,’ it’s called ‘smart growth.’ What they’re trying to do is give a sense of community to where you live and you work and you play in the same area.”

Henderson said the idea is to make the apartment complex something of a “main street” for the entire Highlands Community Development.

“These are four-story apartment buildings with retail underneath,” he said. “Then you’ve got your restaurants in there with open space, so people live there, some of them can work there and certainly some of them can even walk to the hospital.”

In all, he anticipates the apartment units to house about 19,000 square feet of retail space. He said he expects such amenities to appeal greatly to college students and other younger tenants.

Henderson said he’s also optimistic that some of the neighboring attractions will create high demand for the proposed senior living units, which are targeting the 55-and-older market.

“We’re creating another sense of synergy with that, because you’ve got people who are retired or going to be retiring — they can take courses at the college, they’ve got the museum across the street they can be involved in,” he said. “Again, you’ve created that sense of community.”

Henderson said talks are ongoing to also bring a hotel to the development — although, at this point, details on the size or flagship brand aren’t being publicized.

The development will also incorporate about 53 townhomes. According to conceptual plans presented by Henderson, the three-story units will be constructed behind the Speedway station. Blueprints also show an additional seven townhomes located in-between the apartment complex and proposed hotel.

“Any development of this size, it’s going to change some," he noted, "based on things that are happening, and people desire certain things."

As for retail investments, Henderson estimated the total footprint to eclipse 100,000 square feet. The development, he said, easily has room for about 15,000 square feet of office and at least four “sit-down” restaurants. Coffee shops, banks and medical are among the possible end-users, Henderson added.

Henderson also said the project places an emphasis on green space and other outdoor amenities. As far as visual inspiration, Henderson said he would love to see the area take on a look comparable to the Tellus Science Museum grounds.

“We’re going to have architectural controls, we’re going to have landscaping, we’re going to have sidewalks and we’re going to create something that will make everybody happy,” he said. “We have another 15 acres that goes all the way to the east, and that will be another phase that we do … in that phase, we are considering a five, six-acre park, that we might even end up donating to the City, with a pavilion in it.”

At this juncture, Henderson said engineering is wrapping up. Pending the various permitting processes go smoothly, he said groundbreaking for the apartments could happen as early as January.

“In a perfect world, we could have the apartments finished in 18 months from now,” he said. “I think you will see a tremendous amount of construction now in here, beginning probably in February of next year.”

Henderson said he’s held the property for close to two decades. Naturally, development along the intersection came to a halt during the Great Recession, with the prolonged road work also pushing things back a bit.

“We were waiting on State Route 20, which was relocated,” he said. “As the economy improved and developments came to Cartersville, it was time for us to start opening up and doing something with this property.”

Still, the 75 acres comprising the Highlands Community Development represents just half the land Henderson actually holds in the vicinity.

“We have another 75 acres on the other side of the railroad track, so really we have a total of 150 acres in it, but we’re not going to be doing anything to the property for the time being over there,” he said. “We have our plate full right here.”

The project, Henderson said, demonstrates the changing dynamics of commercial development — and consumer wants. The days of simply building a shopping center with some mom and pop stores sprinkled around the outparcels, he said, are long gone.

“That’s why we have shifted — Publix in that area doesn’t give you a sense of community like what we’re talking about,” he said. “Instead of having the anchor be the Kroger in the shopping center, what our anchor really is is people living here.”

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