ATLANTA-The recent sale of nine acres at I-85 and Hamilton MillRoad in Gwinnett County Georgia for $3.2 million, or about $357,000per acre, took two years to complete, says Darrell Chapman,president of the Georgia 400 office of Bull Realty in theAtlanta suburb of Dawsonville, who brokered the deal for theseller. That‘s partly because the buyer was the Georgia RegionalTransportation Authority which has to go through an elaborateprocess to buy property, he says.

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The GRTA, as the authority is known, is planning to build a Park& Ride lot at the site for 900 cars, for people who prefer totake the bus to work to driving on the Atlanta area’s crowdedexpressways. Buford, Georgia, the municipality where the GRTA siteis located, is about 30 miles from downtown Atlanta.

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The land, where most of the site work is already completed, wasnot supposed to be purchased by the GRTA for its Park & Ridefacility, says Chapman. The nine acres, which is part of a 20-acreparcel, was originally supposed to have just retail on it, with aWal-Mart Super Center, which is up and running, as the anchor. Theowners of the site, Hamilton Mill, LLC, a local investment group,could have sold the land for a lot more before the recession, saysChapman. Two or three years ago, one-acre lots in the vicinity wereselling for $650,000, he says.

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Cliff Sandoz, a local developer and a principal with theinvestor group which sold the GRTA property, wants to sell the restof the land, 11 acres, plus four additional acres down the street,to a shopping center developer and, in fact, there is a conceptualplan for an 120,000-square-foot center, says Chapman.

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It makes sense to build there, says Chapman, especially with anew Park & Ride lot to lure people into stores and restaurantson their way to and from work. The area is affluent, he says, withan average household income of $125,000 within a three-mile radius,and Park & Rides have been successful in other areas of theAtlanta metro, he says, which means there would be plenty ofcommuters to appeal to.

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Shopping centers developers and a developer of a 10,000-squarefoot gym have showed interest in the property, says Chapman. Thereare lots of retailers and some office condos in the area already,he says. “If the recession hadn’t happened, the owners (of theland) would have already sold it to be a retail developer, not theGRTA,” he says.

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