A new chapter in Senoia’s renaissance story has officially begun with last week’s unanimous city council approval of a downtown development project that promises to bring one upscale restaurant, a dozen more retail shops, and at least seven loft apartments to Main and Barnes streets in the heart of the city’s Historic Downtown District.
The project will effectively extend the Main Street commercial district over to Barnes Street and down Broad Street, say city officials and developer Scott Tigchelaar, who is also an owner of Raleigh Studios Atlanta, which is currently involved in the filming of the popular adult cable show “The Walking Dead”.
The new project will see the redevelopment of a vacant lot and one non-historic building at 9 Main Street into seven retail shops and seven loft apartments laid out in two buildings that will face each other across a courtyard. That courtyard, says Tigchelaar, is designed to draw pedestrians from Main Street through to the five shops and one upscale restaurant to be built directly across Barnes Street, which runs behind the buildings that line the east side of Main.
“We’d originally looked at putting a fine dining restaurant here in town across from the Post Office on what we refer to as the ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ lot,” Tigchelaar told council members at Monday night’s meeting.
Tigchelaar said subsequent meetings with City Hall got him thinking about using that land in the future to host a row of Main Street-looking shops that would continue down Broad Street. In the meantime, Tigchelaar said he took the opportunity to purchase land within the block of Barnes Street that stretches from Seavy Street down to Travis Street, which is where his dream of building an upscale restaurant in town will now come true.
On the north side of the Barnes Street land Tigchelaar purchased is land purchased two years ago by the City of Senoia, which has since become a parking lot. To the south is a portion of land owned by Randall Cottrill and Dave McGraw, which will be included in the master plan being brokered by Tigchelaar.
As part of the deal finalized Monday night, the city will trade a 6,100 square-foot piece of property fronting Barnes Street in exchange for 6,600 square feet of land located just behind it. This will allow the city to expand its public parking venture while affording Tigchelaar’s development more retail space.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” Tigchelaar said of the overall development. “It really adds some dimension to Main Street beyond the two-block straight-shot that we have now.”
Tigchelaar said many people have told him they hated to see the restaurant Founders shuttered several months ago because it was the only true fine-dining establishment in Senoia. This new development will bring that replacement, he said.
“As many of you are aware, we are out of retail space in town,” Tigchelaar, who is one of Senoia’s primary landlords, told council members. “We have a waiting list, and we have a significant interest in people signing leases for this space ahead of even starting construction, which is amazing.
“As retail goes, I believe we will have everything leased by the time construction is complete, and It think we’re going to have two-thirds of it leased before we even begin construction,” he said.
Tigchelaar went on to say he believes the project will generate at least an additional $300,000 of sales tax revenue, and he said the restaurant alone will probably create about 20 full-time jobs and about 40 part-time jobs.
“We’re talking about a pretty significant economic impact to downtown considering that we just leased the last office space in town,” Tigchelaar said.
“This has been something we have wanted to do, to extend Main Street down Broad Street and to Barnes,” said Councilman Maurice Glover. “This affords us that opportunity.
“I don’t think I ever pictured it to this scale,” Glover continued. “I think it’s wonderful.”
Glover’s council colleagues and several audience members agreed with him, and they energetically applauded the unanimous, favorable vote.