Consultant reviews market study with local leaders

Members of the Grady County Lake Authority and Grady County Commission learned more about the Market Study for Tired Creek Lake conducted by RCLCO Real Estate Advisors during a joint meeting Monday morning.
Gregg Logan, managing director of community and resort for RCLCO, presented authority members and county commissioners an overview of the market study.
This is not Logan’s first look at this project having been involved in a prior study commissioned by Grady County in 2004 when then Governor Sonny Perdue encouraged the county to seek a One Georgia grant as a funding source for the lake project.
As Logan noted, at that time the concept was much different and included a lodge and golf course in addition to residential development around the lake.
Based on market research, this new study indicates the county would most profit from residential development with commercial activities including, but not limited to, an RV park and tent camping area, a country store located near the proposed marina, onsite restaurant, and event space.
RCLCO is recommending the focus be on lakefront single family lots, a section designated as a retirement village and cabin villages.
Logan outlined a recommended development program including 1,050 residential units with a projected build out in approximately 15 years. For this plan, approximately 171 acres including infrastructure, roads, and amenities would be needed.
Based on the success of other lakefront developments included in the RCLCO research, a lakefront village with 230 lots, 70 feet in width, located on the shoreline with the best views are estimated to sell for between $63,000 and $98,000 per lot. Home values on these lots are projected to range from $349,000 to $544,000.
Grady County Commission Vice Chairman T.D. David asked if Logan thought the development of the lake would create a neighborhood of the highest valued homes in the area, and the RCLCO director said it likely would.
“Why shouldn’t it be? You’ve spent a lot in order to create a very special place and water is magic. We all love to look at it. It’s a magnet and focal point for activities. People will pay for that opportunity,” Logan said.
“While some local residents may be interested in purchasing one of these lots, our research indicates the majority would be purchased by people from out of town,” Logan said.
“No, these aren’t typical Grady County prices, but this isn’t a typical Grady County asset either,” Tired Creek consultant Will Butler added.
According to Logan, more local residents would likely invest in the cabin villages or in the active adult village.
Under the recommended development plan, 370 lots including 80-foot wide waterfront lots and 120-foot wide interior lots would fetch prices of $24,000 to $73,000 per lot for cabin homes ranging in value from $131,000 to $408,000. According to Logan, these would be primarily vacation or second homes.
The RCLCO officials said the active adult village that targets retirees should be a 380-lot village with lots selling for $26,000 to $49,000 and homes valued at $145,000 to $273,000.
Logan told authority members and commissioners that eventually there may be an opportunity for some type of condominium development, but that market would develop much later and be best suited to be developed near the marina and commercial area.
Logan proposes the RV and tent camping area be developed just off of GA Hwy. 112 and away from the residential areas to create a buffer between residents and campers.
Unfortunately, the market study indicates that approximately 20,600 feet of shoreline would have obstructed views due to the trees that were left standing in the lake bed by the county. This equates to a projected loss of marketable lake view lots of $3.8 million.
RCLCO’s study also takes into account that 80 percent of the shoreline will not be developed due to the buffer zone as well as additional areas set aside for open space.
Logan said that the residential demand analysis incorporated demographic and housing trend data from national surveys and was based on the number of households within a five-hour drive of the lake with sufficient income, interest in vacationing or retiring here. Those households were further segmented by age, annual propensity to move, share of buyers interested in southwest Georgia and preference for lakeside destinations or new products.
Based on the data Logan and RCLCO predict second home buyers and retirees will make up the largest segment of demand for residential products developed at the lake.
An annual absorption rate of up to 78 units per year is projected.
Case studies used in the market study included Lake Walter George, Lake Seminole, Lake Blackshear, Lake Oconee, Lake Arrowhead, Mountain Creek Lake, Lake Keowee, Lake Talquin, Blalock Lakes, Lake Tobesofkee, and Lake Lanier. Lake communities studied included C.C. of Alabama, Cuscowilla & Del Webb, Lake Arrowhead, Callaway Gardens, The Reserve, Blalock Lakes, and Cresswind at Lake Lanier.
In order to achieve success, Logan said lake governance would be critical. He recommends a common set of design standards to be established, property owners or home owners associations be created as well as the creation of a trust that property owners would contribute to through a mandatory assessment fee upon the sale of home sites and improved properties. The proceeds would be used to maintain the land around the lake.
Based on the lake’s relatively small size, 960 acres, RCLCO is recommending restricted use of gas powered boats on the lake.
Lake Authority Vice Chairman Lee Gainous, who presided in the absence of Chairman LaDon Toole Monday, noted for the record that a restriction on gas powered boats was not the recommendation of the authority.
Authority member Travis Bryant commented that he understood the reasoning behind the recommendation by RCLCO, but he also said that local residents should not have to “trade in their boats” to enjoy the lake.
Grady County Commissioner Keith Moye questioned how significant was the impact financially if they did allow gas powered boats on the lake. Logan said that it could diminish lot prices the county could achieve.
Grady County Commissioner June Knight said the prospect of large, gas powered boats on the lake may “scare off” people interested in building a large home on the lake and Logan said it might also negatively impact those who would be interested in the active adult village.
Consultant Butler suggested that the way to minimize the impact would be to establish times when gas powered boats could be on the lake rather than banning them.
“I just don’t want anyone leaving this room saying we made a recommendation that no gas motors are allowed on the lake,” Gainous said.
Logan said his recommendation was what would be best to achieve the highest return on the county’s investment.
Authority members said that common sense regulations governing skiing or other activities on the lake and hours permitted would have to be discussed and resolved later.
Commissioner Knight said that people are asking her lots of questions and that public officials needed to be able to give the public answers. Butler said he and RCLCO were trying to provide the commission and authority with all of the information in which to make good decisions. “That way when you give an answer you will know why the decision was made,” Butler said.
Logan recommended there are opportunities to partner with local businesses to provide amenities away from the lake including Tired Creek Golf Course. He said perhaps discounts on membership or golf could be offered to those who purchase real estate at the lake. Logan also suggested similar arrangements with area hunt clubs or skeet and trap ranges.
Commission Vice Chairman David asked what would be the total projected return on developing the lake. Logan said based on the average lot price of approximately $60,000 multiplied by 1,050 lots, gross sales of approximately $64 million over a 10 to 15 year time frame could be generated. Butler noted that was gross sales revenue and did not include the cost of infrastructure. “You could take about a third of that number and you might be close,” Butler told David.
Butler said it would be likely the authority would have to negotiate with a developer and in return for a discounted purchase price the developer would pay for the required infrastructure.
Logan told local leaders that based on other similar projects it was very likely that the project would generate a net positive contribution to the county’s economy and tax digest. He also said that the study indicates there would be sufficient revenue from the sale of lots to offset the cost of those sales.
Lastly, Logan suggested the authority and county may wish to consider marketing the lake with a different name than Tired Creek Lake. He suggested others names would better reflect the nature of the development and would attract buyers and tourists.
Logan has over 30 years of experience working with real estate developers, land owners, investors and builders as well as public sector entities in helping them make development, investment, and planning decisions for their real estate.
Prior to the RCLCO presentation, Butler reviewed the proposed Request for Qualifications the authority asked him to develop. Butler’s draft is now being reviewed by Grady County Attorney Jennifer Dorminey Herzog. Commissioners and authority members were asked to submit any suggested changes.
The primary change discussed Monday was reworking the language regarding the prohibition of gas powered boats on the lake.
Butler indicated he was prepared to begin advertising the RFQ and contacting potential developers who may be interested in the project. Authority Vice Chairman Gainous said he and the authority were willing to meet more frequently in order to get the RFQ out and into the hands of potential developers.
Participating in Monday’s meeting, in addition to Gainous and Bryant, were authority members Edgar B. Smith III, Jeff Brown and Randolph Wind.
Commission Chairman Ray Prince, who also sits on the lake authority, was present Monday, but Commissioner LaFaye Copeland was absent.

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