An effort of the city of LaGrange to partner with London-based Prince’s Foundation could come just in time for two proposed developments on the southeast side of the city.
“We have an incredible opportunity here with these two corridors,” said Steve McCall, who is working to develop the 107-acre American Legion property on Hamilton Road.
Prince’s Foundation representatives heard from McCall and the planners of LaGrange Station, a 300-acre tax allocation district development between Hamilton and Whitesville roads along Interstate 85.
LaGrange Station developer Ron Orr said the property will be mixed use and residential, with medical offices apartments and shopping.
McCall said the legion property, which now includes a golf course, will be turned into a mixed use and mixed income community, with some retail shops along a lake at the property.
“We really want to concentrate on housing, especially for seniors,” he said. The Centers for Disease Control and Veterans Administration already are looking at plans for the property and want to use it as a model for other communities on how to build housing for seniors and healthy living.
McCall said ground could be broken on the project in 2013.
LaGrange Station was created when the city and Troup County began allowing tax allocation districts almost two years ago. The TAD status allows bonds to be sold to pay for infrastructure on projects that may not otherwise be developed.
Bob Riddle, another developer with LaGrange Station, said the hold up on moving the project forward has been financing a parkway through the property that will serve as the major road.
“We hope to use TAD money to get that done,” he said. “There are a lot of players here, and unlimited opportunities.”
It was the unlimited opportunities that are coming to LaGrange with the widening of Hamilton Road, proposed developments and other opportunities that persuaded Mayor Jeff Lukken to contact the Prince’s Foundation.
“This is the culmination of several wonderful opportunities,” Lukken told local leaders who met with the Prince’s Foundation on Friday morning.
The city didn’t want to go in to planning the developments and other growth in southeast LaGrange without doing some kind of plan, the mayor said.
The Prince’s Foundation, created by Britain’s Prince Charles, has worked around the world helping develop residential and commercial properties, with a focus on environmental sustainability.
While they gave an overview of the foundation’s work Friday morning, they mostly listened to what local leaders would like to see in the redeveloped areas.
Ben Bolgar, senior design director for the foundation, said their work is spurred on by the triple threat of climate change, shrinking resources and growing population.
“We need to find ways to have the same quality of life with limited resources and more population,” he said. “Planning is essential.”
The culture has gotten used to just building something new when one thing wears out, he said, and that needs to change.
“There’s a junk culture,” he said. “We stick up something cheap and demolish it in 10 years. We need to think about patching and repairing what we have and keeping it longer.”
After touring the city Friday, the foundation representatives will meet with local leaders again Saturday morning to share their thoughts on where LaGrange should go from here. LaGrange could partner with the foundation on a plan or use another group to move forward with the ideas.