Thursday, November 18, 2021

Oconee County Planning Commission Recommends A Medical Center Over A Hotel, Expansion Of A Retirement Community

***Both Projects Along Virgil Langford Road***

The Oconee County Planning Commission on Monday night recommended approval a medical center as a replacement for a proposed hotel in one rezone request and the near doubling of the size of a Continuum of Care Retirement Community in another.

Both rezone requests were in the fast-developing medical area along Virgil Langford Road between SR 316 and SR 10 Loop.

University Cancer and Blood Center is proposing to build a 25,000 square-foot medical center at the corner of SR 316 and the Oconee Connector where a 100-room hotel had been planned and approved in 2013.

Valeo Americas, a developer of senior living facilities based in Charlotte, N.C., is proposing to add a little more than six acres to the 24 acres behind 316 Professional Quarters currently zoned for a senior care community.

With the new acreage, Valeo would include a new 90,300 square foot building plus 48 cottages, twice the original number, nearly doubling the total square footage of the project from 185,392 to 346,088 square feet.

The Planning Commission’s recommendation of approval of the projects goes to the Board of Commissioners for final action on Dec. 7.

University Cancer And Blood Center

University Cancer and Blood Center, which currently is located in a 14,164-square-foot building at 3320 Old Jefferson Road in Athens-Clarke County, is proposing to build the 25,000-square-foot building beginning the middle of 2022.

Drawing For University Cancer and Blood Center

The facility will be constructed to allow for the addition of 5,000 more square feet of space.

The 4.8-acre tract is part of Resurgence Park and is already zoned B-2 for Highway Business.

Frank Pittmann, representing Resurgence Park LLC, is seeking a modification of the rezone to allow for the medical office use.

Pittmann told the Planning Commission on Monday night that Resurgence intentionally is not asking to downzone the property from the B-2 zoning. The surrounding property in Resurgence Park is zoned B-1, a slightly more restrictive category.

The property had been rezoned B-2 to allow for the 70,000 square-foot hotel in 2013. The building was to be five stories tall.

Actual Drawing

Pittmann told the Planning Commission that University Cancer and Blood Center “previously bought a small lot in this same medical complex and was planning to build a small satellite office.

Hotel 2013 Rezone

“Once the plans started getting going,” Pittmann continued, “they got excited about coming to Oconee and decided they needed to build a bigger complex.”

Pittman said that “what you see in your packet is not representative architecture. It is exactly what the building will look like.”

The building will have access to the Oconee Connector, as had been the case for the hotel, as well as to Virgil Langford Road via Resurgence Drive. The hotel also would have had that access to Resurgence Drive.

Pittmann told the Commission that he has been in contact with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) regarding the exit from the property onto the Connector.

He said the current GDOT plans, once the multi-grade intersection is built, are for a signalized intersection near the property exit.

“They've kind of asked us to slide it (the exit) south and make it part of their intersection,” Pittmann said. “So we would permit it and build it as a right-in, right- out.

“Then when GDOT came along and did their intersection plans, they would actually change that to make it part of their signalized intersection,” Pittmann said.

Fairways Village

The property at the other end of Virgil Langford Road to be developed as a retirement community has an even more complex history.

Ken Beall, land planner representing the current land owner, The Fairways At 316 LLC, provided a time line for the various plans for the property at the Planning Commission meeting.

The 24 acres that make up the bulk of the property had been rezoned for a master plan residential development in 2007, he said. Roads and other infrastructure were installed for town homes and small residential cottage lots.

The development failed, and the property was taken over by a bank, according to Beall.

The Fairways At 316 purchased the property in 2014 and had it rezoned to OIP (Office Institutional Professional) for a Continuum Care Retirement Community.

Oconee Medical Holdings LLC acquired the adjoining 6.2 acres from GDOT in 2015 and transferred it to The Fairways At 316.

Beall said he was representing the owners of The Fairways At 316, Gavin Griffeth and Tim Burgess, “who've done the majority of the work that's been done out on Virgil Langford Road and the Oconee Connector thus far.”

The pair is asking the county to modify the zoning for the 24 acres to allow the current development and add the six new acres to the OIP classification in order to develop the assisted living community.

Passing It On

“We've represented multiple developers over the years on this property,” Beall told the Planning Commission, “and we and many others have learned that if you're going to do an assisted living senior development, you better know what you're doing.

Map For Retirement Community Rezone

“And so the current owners never were comfortable with others that had approached them about partnering up to do this properly, do this project,” Beall continued.

“And in this case, the current owners are just selling out,” Beall said, “and developers of assisted and independent living developments are purchasing this, and they will be the sole developers and operators of this.”

Hal Grayson from Atlanta, a partner with Valeo Groupe Americas, followed Beall and said “We're really excited to be here in Athens. I love Athens. My daughter went to college here, and I love coming here.”

Grayson said his company has properties in Nevada, Texas, South Carolina, as well as in Johns Creek and Braselton here Georgia.

“So this Athens (project) kind of fits into our Atlanta growth strategy,” he said.

Citizen Comment

Dianne Wright, whose property abuts the project, was the only citizen who spoke at either or the public hearings on the rezone requests by the Planning Commission on Monday.

‘I'm not against this project,” she said. She was only concerned about that the required buffers be in place, she said.

“That was why I came,” she said, “and I think they are going to--you know--make sure the buffers are there.”

The development abuts the Jennings Mill development, with the back touching the golf course itself.

Beall said the project will be designed to facilitate golf cart travel, with some of the cottages having “a single car garage and a golf cart garage.”

Valeo, however, has dropped the golf theme and is using the name Vineyard Senior Assisted and Independent Living Campus for the project.

Construction is to begin in March 2022 if approved by the Board of Commissioners and be completed by the end of 2023, according to the project narrative.


The video embedded below was recorded by the county from the Zoom session and is on the county’s YouTube channel.

The meeting begins at 6:39 in the video, but the video is blank (although the audio is present) until just a little more than 11 minutes into the video.

Discussion of the rezone request for Resurgence park begins at 11:14 in the video.

Once the video switched to the second camera, which focused on the podium, the video again goes blank, though the audio records. That switch is at 12:45 in the video.

Discussion of The Fairways At 316 request begins at 17:03 in the video.

The screen goes blank again at 19:53 and remains blank through the remainder of the meeting.

I attended the meeting virtually from home and was granted permission to record the video.

Although the Zoom screen indicated I was recording, and I could see the output of both cameras, when the meeting ended, the video did not convert, as it is supposed to do.

So the flawed video below is the only record of the meeting.


Betsy Weinrich said...

Thank you for this update and many others. Your amazing, fair, and continual coverage of Oconee County developments makes a significant impact on our community.

Lee Becker said...

Thank you, Betsy.
I am so glad you found this helpful. Your comments mean a lot to me.

Earl McCorkle said...

Good coverage and presentation.

Johnny Lay said...

Lee I also enjoy the information you provide us who cannot attend meeting
for many reason. Thank you. Johnny Lay

Lee Becker said...

Thank you, Earl and Johnny.