Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Fayetteville is shaping up to be the most impactful development ever in Fayette County, and documents recently filed with Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) indicate it will soon cross the threshold of being a key development in the wider region as well.
A master plan was discussed with Fayetteville city officials Thursday and filed with the state Friday showing six contiguous parcels for a total of 696.4 acres stretching between the under-construction Georgia Military College (GMC) campus and the Pinewood Atlanta Studios Production Center, which is the former Rivers Elementary School campus.
One of those parcels is the 288.5-acre studio campus already under construction, and another being the 25.7-acre former Rivers Elementary School campus, which Pinewood uses now as its Production Center. The other four parcels drawn into the nearly 700-acre overall development include an additional 44.3 acres next to the Production Center that will be used to build a Media Park Expansion; a 232.3-acre mixed use development that will include houses, condos, apartments, retail space, offices and a hotel; a 97-acre mixed use development that will also include houses in addition to retail, commercial and educational space; and the 8.6-acre parcel that is already being developed as the newest Georgia Military College (GMC) campus.
While the idea of development on this grand scale has been around since ground was first broken at Pinewood, this DCA filing marks the first time a document has been made public that gives so much detail as to Pinewood’s potential.
The 44.3-acre Media Park Expansion, according to the submitted plans, will include 198,000 square feet of warehouses and 24,000 square feet of office. It will be located next to the Production Center and across Sandy Creek Road from the main Pinewood campus.
On the south side of the studio campus along Veterans Parkway, the 97-acre Horton Tract is said to become the location of a 107-home, single-family dwelling neighborhood, which will be built on the portion of the property furthest away from Veterans Parkway. 84,000 square feet of retail, commercial and educational development will be built on the rest of that tract fronting Veterans Parkway.
Perhaps the most exciting and unusual detail in the submitted plans is the 232.3-acre tract being called Pinewood Forest, which is rumored to become a gated resort area connected to the studio campus by a pedestrian tunnel under Veterans Parkway. Pinewood Forest would have 324 multi-family homes, 714 single-family homes, 200 apartments and a 200-room hotel. It would also have about 175,000 square feet of mixed office and retail space. Developers have said it will rival the resort town of Seaside, Florida, which is located between Panama City Beach and Destin along the Gulf of Mexico.
Altogether, the the Horton Tract and Pinewood Forest would yield 1,345 new residential units plus 200 hotel rooms. The overall development would potentially result in almost 2.3 million square feet of non-residential developed space.
The submitted drawing also gives more detail of what’s to come on the studio campus itself. Currently, Phase One of Pinewood Atlanta Studios has been complete and operational with five sound stages since the middle of 2014, and last fall construction began on Phase Two, which is still in progress and will bring up the sound stage count to 11. When all phases are complete, around 30 sound stages are expected totaling 595,000 square feet, plus 290,000 square feet of workshops, 250,000 square feet of warehouses, 320,000 square feet of offices and a 5,000 square-foot recycling center.
Additionally, the new drawing shows what looks to be a compact, nine-hole golf course intended for construction along Veterans Parkway on the south side of the main studio campus.
Another staggering number is the amount of car parking spaces intended for the development, which is 6,931, according to the submitted plans.
This 696.4-acre planning document only details what Pinewood Atlanta Holdings, LLC is looking to develop along Veterans Parkway between the GMC and the Production Center. It does not include additional development expected to take place further south on Veterans Parkway toward Hwy. 54 and then along Hwy. 54 next to and across from Piedmont Fayette Hospital.
According to Fayetteville Director of Community Development Brian Wismer, once the City of Fayetteville begins dealing with a development on a scale this large, it must be submitted to DCA for review, because it will doubtlessly have an impact on neighboring communities not limited to those within Fayette County. Sandy Creek Road, for example, leads traffic away from Pinewood Studios Atlanta and onto Hwy. 74, which a short distance northward intersects with Interstate 85 in Fulton County.
Wismer said decisions will still be made locally, but the city will work with other agencies to address concerns on a broader basis.
Wismer also said the first official planning documents from Pinewood Holdings were expected to arrive at City Hall some time this week and most likely in time to be discussed at the March 24 Fayetteville Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.