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ALPHARETTA, GA-One of the largest mixed-use ventures proposed in years in suburban Atlanta has cleared its first governmental hurdle. The planning commission here, 27 miles north of Downtown Atlanta, has approved Cousins Properties Inc.’s proposed $291 million, 220-acre project near North Point Mall on the west side of GA 400.

The City Council will vote on Cousins’ rezoning request Aug. 25. If approved, the project could break ground before year end, area brokers following the undertaking tell GlobeSt.com.

The planning commission has approved development for 500,000 sf of educational, cultural and recreational space; two million sf of office and hotel space; 50,000 sf to 200,000 sf of retail; 404 townhomes; 752 apartments; and 868 units for senior living. No single-family detached homes are planned at this time.

Planning department staffers confirm to GlobeSt.com that details for a planned pedestrian bridge over GA 4000, connecting to North Point Mall, are being worked out.

The planning commission’s approval raises hopes for Atlanta area residents that the long-discussed North Fulton Centre for the Arts will also break ground eventually within the Cousins project, area brokers tell GlobeSt.com.

Backers of the 27-acre, $70 million arts center face a December deadline to come up with $4 million to buy the land for the project. Fulton County and Alpharetta have each pledged $1 million to date. The price equates to $148,148 per acre, or about an average $3.40 per sf.

For Cousins, 2003 has been a busy development-preparation year to date. For example, the Atlanta developer and Temple-Inland Inc. of Austin, TX are awaiting approval from the Atlanta Regional Commission for Seven Hills, their jointly planned 1,830-acre, 2,189-home residential-commercial venture that would have 77 acres of offices, stores and schools in Paulding County, as GlobeSt.com previously reported. Seven Hills is located next to Cousins’ 1,700-home Bentwater subdivision under construction in Paulding.

On the retail front, GlobeSt.com also has reported that Cousins has joined Simon Property Group of Indianapolis and North American Properties Inc. of Cincinnati in planning one of the state’s largest regional shopping centers along Interstate 75 in fast-growing Henry County.

The three-developer alliance tentatively plans to create a 1.2-million-sf mall at an estimated development cost of about $120 million, area brokers familiar with the project tell GlobeSt.com.

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