This was in the AJC today:

Developer seeks comeback with 6,300 homes in rural projects

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 05/06/08

Twenty years ago, W. Harrison Merrill was taking on risky redevelopment projects when redevelopment was not so chic.

His company, Landmark American, refurbished Marietta Station and the Kennesaw House in Marietta, the Buggy Works in East Point and the Odd Fellows Building on Auburn Avenue.


Landmark American went bankrupt in 1990, but Merrill bounced back as the head of Resort Hotels, Vanguard Properties, and Merrill Trust Communities and Resorts.

Now the 64-year-old Atlanta native is pitching his two most ambitious local projects on 2,400 rural acres in Palmetto and Douglas County.

Representatives of Merrill Trust met Monday with the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority to lay out the company’s proposals. Regional approval could come this summer; after that, local governments will have to sign off on the plans.

In Palmetto in south Fulton County, Merrill Trust proposes building 5,400 residences and 1.1 million square feet of commercial space on 1,300 acres. The project would take 20 years to complete.

Merrill’s 12-year project in Douglas would have 910 resort residences and up to 2.3 million square feet of commercial space on 1,100 acres.

Consultants hired by Merrill Trust estimate the Palmetto project, called Foxhall Village, would add 30,000 vehicle trips a day to that area when finished in about 2028. The Douglas project, dubbed Foxhall Resort and Sporting Club, would add about 20,000 trips, they say.

The Foxhall Resort site is in the southeast corner of Douglas, bounded by the Chattahoochee River and Capps Ferry Road, which becomes South Fulton Parkway in Fulton County. Access would be restricted to resort guests and residents.

To the east, the Foxhall Village land is in the northwest area of Palmetto, bisected by Cochran Mill Road. That area is designated for village development in the Chattahoochee Hill Country master plan for south Fulton, which calls for clustered development to protect big swaths of green space.

Foxhall Village would have 330,000 square feet of retail space, 770,000 square feet of office space, 1,909 detached homes, 1,231 apartments and 2,232 townhouses and condominiums.

Merrill was out of town Monday and not available to discuss the projects. Two representatives of Merrill Trust met with the ARC and GRTA.

In Rabun County near North Carolina, Merrill Trust owns the Sky Valley Resort and Country Club, where mountain homes and home sites are for sale.

Near Phoenix, “the Trust and affiliated entities have acquired … over 25,000 acres which has been zoned for over 120,000 lots, making the Trust by far the largest single owner of entitled lots in Arizona,” according to Harrison Merrill’s biography on the Web site Ugandan American Partnership Organization. Merrill is a board member for the organization, founded by his daughter.

Merrill graduated from the Westminster Schools, the University of North Carolina and Emory University Law School. He practiced law for about three years before starting Vanguard Properties.

He is a member of the Westminster sports hall of fame because of his swimming prowess. He funded the school’s natatorium, which opened eight years ago.