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Developer offers help for center

The West Park Village developer offers to share the cost of building a community center. Homeowners will consider their options in September.

A second developer has stepped forward with an offer to help build a new community center here.

Gables Residential Trust Co., a developer in the neotraditional West Park Village section, has offered to share costs to build a center that could cost $750,000 to $1.5-million. Terrabrook, Westchase's master developer, already has offered to donate 1 acre of land and architectural services. The site under consideration is in the center of Montague Street in West Park Village.

"We're still in the initial planning stages though," said Lisa McCallister-Grant, who heads up a community center committee for the Westchase Homeowners Association.

A homeowners' meeting will be called in September to discuss the project.

Until now, residents have met at the swim and tennis center and at Westchase Elementary School. Because the school charges rent and the swim center is often booked with team activities, a committee was formed to explore the possibility of building a new center. A survey suggested that most Westchase residents approve of the idea in principal, but there is little consensus over how much to spend or where to raise the money.

Greg Iglehart, vice president of development for Gables, said that if Westchase residents elect to help pay for the center, it can be used by the entire community. Gables would still manage it, however, through a trust.

He described the proposed arrangement as "a shoulder-to-shoulder sharing of costs." The wider the use, he said, the more expensive the center is likely to be. Early plans call for a meeting place, pool, library and gymnasium.

Gables' offer comes as the Atlanta-based company prepares to announce plans to build 1,000 apartment homes off Montague Street. "We're going to be building a community center for our residents," he said. But "we don't even know what the homeowners want."

Gables, previously selected by The Walt Disney Co. for its popular Celebration community, owns 95 communities with 28,250 apartment homes in Georgia, Texas, Tennessee and Florida.

Although McCallister-Grant is hopeful, she said she remains cautious about going with the Gables offer. "This approach could prove mutually beneficial," she said. "but it would have to be carefully considered and negotiated by both sides."

Backers of the center hope to start construction late next year.