Make no mistake—the team behind Pinewood Forrest, a 234-acre, mixed-use development currently under construction, understands the power of having what will soon be the largest U.S. movie studio outside of Los Angeles directly across the street. A Hollywood tone permeated this morning’s onsite media event. The theme to Star Wars played before the speakers took seats in, of course, director’s chairs. Lead developer (and Chick-fil-A CEO) Dan Cathy, newly announced Pinewood Forrest president Rob Parker, and Crow Hospitality Investment Group president John Crow posed in front of a bulldozer holding clapboards.
“Big stories are being told across the street,” said Parker, “But I think what we miss behind the scenes is the number of stories that are represented by lives and the jobs and the people who are here doing all kinds of work. We’re excited about reaching that community.”
Parker, who was announced as Pinewood president on Tuesday, is no stranger to the local entertainment community—he is the former CEO of Zac Brown’s Southern Ground label and worked with Camp Southern Ground, the singer’s Fayetteville summer camp for children with neurodevelopmental disorders.
The development announced a partnership with Hay Creek Hotels to open a luxury boutique hotel on the premises, set to open in 2018. The hotel will have 95 rooms, a restaurant and bar, and, according to Crow, special features that will tie in with the development’s creative vibe. Ideas, Crow said, include designing a space for scriptwriters that would be akin to New York’s Algonquin Round Table, or bringing storytellers from Jonesborough, Tennessee’s National Storytelling Center to perform. Beyond the obvious appeal to movie industry folks, Crow said he sees the boutique hotel as a place for corporate retreats and weddings.
Pinewood Forrest will be divided into several different communities, including culinary and craft districts, with a town square in the center, and will incorporate single-family homes, micro cottages, multi-family flats, townhomes, and even tree homes. Ansley Atlanta Real Estate will manage home sales and marketing. Housing will come on line in four phases, with the first residents moving in next summer. Phase one home reservations will open soon, and potential residents will be able to take virtual reality tours of home models on Pinewood Forrest’s website.
The community is designed to be walkable, with 15 miles of trails and walkways and 118 acres of public green space; and Pinewood Forrest has developed its own mandatory green building certification. Homes will feature high-speed 2-gigabit internet service. The development hopes to attract all types of buyers, from millennials to seniors, with prices ranging from $200,000 to more than one million.
“Millennial housing has been really left out of the whole metro Atlanta housing scene,” said town urbanist and planner Lew Oliver. “In the past four to five years, we’ve seen nothing affordable for millennials. So we’re designing 30- by 50-foot lots that will have micro cottages on them, ranging anywhere from 850 to 1600 square feet.” The micro cottages will have open floor plans and will center around community spaces with shared amenities, such as a grill or fire pit.
Oliver noted that micro cottage communities would also be aimed toward seniors. “Seniors in Atlanta have been served up traditional continuing care retirement communities, which most people translate to a 4-story stack flat in Alpharetta, surrounded by parking lots,” he said. “Our model here will be very different.”
Communities will also have themed designs. Oliver said that the “spine” of the culinary district, which will lead from the community’s lake, would be inspired by Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” painting, with folk-American architecture. It will feature a community garden and farm-to-table restaurant. Oliver also mentioned that English- and Scottish-inspired homes would be included on the community’s outskirts as a nod to Pinewood’s home studio in the United Kingdom. “Shop houses,” he said, would allow those who enjoy selling artwork or antiques to live above their own shops; and he described these as “a little more funky and industrial.”
As for how the community compares to another well-known mini creative town south of Atlanta? “Serenbe was a trailblazer for us,” Oliver said. How Pinewood Forrest differs, he says, is in more affordable price points, a denser town center, instant employment from the businesses within the community and Pinewood Studios (“In the past, we had to create employment or wonder who was going to work there”) and a different atmosphere. “Serenbe is much more pastoral,” he said.