Golf clubs in Dawson County haven’t faired well in recent months, but developers hope a new concept in country club living will motor past the competition.
Jeremy Porter, a Forsyth County resident and longtime racing enthusiast, has submitted plans to develop a motorsports country club in the city of Dawsonville.
Described as the first of its kind, Atlanta Motorsports Park combines the fast and furious world of automotives with suburban country club, resort living.
Porter is in talks with the city of Dawsonville and the Development Authority of Dawson County to develop a car enthusiasts’ playground on 500 acres currently owned by Ernie Elliott on Duck Thurmond Road in western Dawson County. The property was annexed into the city a little more than a year ago.
The development would include a track, although not for racing, but for driving high-end, custom show cars.
“I want the community to be assured this is not a racing course, not a race track. It’s a driving course,” Porter said.
Restaurants, retail, lodging and residential living are also included in the preliminary plans, expected to go before the Dawsonville City Council in November for rezoning from agricultural to commercial use.
Steve Holder, Dawsonville planning director, said his intention is to recommend approval with several stipulations, including regulated hours of operation, strict guidelines on the number of people that can be at the facility at one time and no lighting on the track, which would eliminate driving on the track at night.
“This is a quality project that will be beneficial to the city of Dawsonville and Dawson County,” he said.
Porter said his desire is to provide a family-friendly environment with high standards designed to bring families back together.
“There will be absolutely no alcohol whatsoever at the park,” he said. “We want to be respectful to the community, respectful of the neighbors.”
While the motorsports club would be a members’ only development, Porter said he plans to open the driving course to the community by offering driver training programs, as well as allow walkers and bicyclists access to the track.
Charlie Auvermann, executive director of the Development Authority of Dawson County, has worked with Porter for several months to bring the project to Dawson County and agrees the development is good not only for the area, but also for the economy.
“The initial project itself would bring in about a $4 million tax boost to the county in the next eight to 10 years,” Auvermann said.
“The development authority is pleased to have them here and I’m hoping the community will recognize there is public tax revenue in this development. We’re very pleased they’ve chosen Dawson County.”
Dawson County was one of several north Georgia counties considered for the development.
“I called on every piece of land in Forsyth, Lumpkin and Dawson,” Porter said.
Aside from the property’s ideal topography and value, Porter said it was Dawson County’s rich automotive history that sealed the deal.
“The motorsports side of Dawson County is very attractive to us. We want to continue that theme of motosports and its additional impact as it relates to the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame,” Porter said.
Although Dawsonville’s motorsports family will only be involved only from the standpoint of selling the site, Ernie Elliott said Monday that he supports the project as submitted or he would never have agreed to sell the property. “When they first brought it to me, I said no way, because it involved what I thought was a race track,” Elliott said.
His views soon changed as he researched the proposal and similar motorsports parks across the country.
“If they do what they say they’re going to do, this is a worthwhile, noteworthy project,” he said.
Similar motorsports parks can be found across the country in New Jersey, Chicago and Texas, among other places, with top names like Mario Andretti as investors.
Porter would not release the names of any of his investors. He only said his team has worked on successful motorsports park projects in the past. A formal project unveiling is scheduled for Thursday in Alpharetta to disclose additional details.
Porter said his goal is to break ground as early as February 2009.
E-mail Michele Hester at firstname.lastname@example.org.