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Do Suburban ATL Projects Signal Old Growth Model, Part II?

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The following news could be interpreted in several ways: A developer has purchased 158 acres near Ga. Highway 400 in south Forsyth County, with plans to build a 400-home project called "Traditions." The developer, FrontDoor Communities, told the Atlanta Business Chronicle the transaction marks the largest resident land acquisition in metro Atlanta since the pre-Recession boom times of 2006. Now, should this project serve as a bellwether that residential home construction — the bread and butter of metro Atlanta's explosive, late 20th-century growth — could be back on track, promising to shepherd the region into economic sustainability? Or is it evidence that the old growth model is resilient and cyclical, despite its perceived unsustainability?

The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports that Atlanta's affluent northern suburbs are showing chutes of development that could signal a rebounding residential market. FrontDoor's CEO told the newspaper the Forsyth project, which could break ground as early as September, underscores "that we can now see several good years out in front of us." Interestingly, the project represents a departure for FrontDoor, which until now has focused on urban and suburban infill projects of about 100 homes in markets such as Charleston and Orlando.

Anecdotally speaking, FrontDoor isn't alone. PulteGroup broke ground late last year on a Marietta project and began the second phase in May due to high demand. And in Gwinnett and Cobb counties, the newspaper reports single-family housing permits are on pace to nearly double from last year. Here's to hoping all those potential homebuyers are proponents of carpooling, for their own sake.

· FrontDoor launches 400-home Forsyth County project [Atlanta Business Chronicle]