After more than seven years, the walls in Senoia will come down.
Walls and gates of corrugated metal and rail cars have surrounded the Gin Property residential development in downtown Senoia since September of 2014, for the filming of "The Walking Dead."
But the show is currently filming its final season, and the walled "Alexandria Safe Zone" will go back to being a somewhat normal neighborhood.
Last week, location manager Michael Riley with Stalwart Films asked for an extension on the closure of Morgan Street through June, to give enough time for filming to be wrapped and the road, which has been closed on each end of the Gin Property development, to be reopened to public traffic once again. Currently, residents go through a checkpoint to get into the neighborhood.
Filming should be finishing up mid-March, said Riley, "if all goes well and COVID doesn't get in the way."
The June 30 extension "allows us, probably, enough time to clean things up," he told the council. “Once we get done we should be able to reopen Morgan Street."
Riley said that he'd like to ask for permission to possibly do a month-by-month extension if something slows down the project.
"If all goes well we should be done by April with the street open by June," Riley said.
Only the mayor and two council members were in attendance at the called meeting, and two, Mayor Dub Pearman and Councilwoman Tracy Brady, had to recuse themselves from the vote. Pearman's home backs up to the wall and Brady lives on the Gin Property. Because of that, Councilman Matthew Faust made a motion to approve the extension by unanimous consent.
Once the filming ends, all the sets will be removed, and the Gin Property will be fully restored, said Scott Tigchelaar, Gin Property developer, resident and former movie studio president. The windmill will be removed, and all the landscaping redone, he said.
AMC will also restore the 10 homes that were built on the property for the filming, and they should be up for sale by May or June, Tigchelaar said.
Normally, a production company would have built "set homes," which are simply facades or shells that would be taken down at the end of the production. But in Senoia, "AMC wanted to be more environmentally conscious and leave a lasting legacy to the show by building real, permanent homes which might be sold at the end of production," Tigchelaar said. "As a result, fans of the show will forever be able to visit a little bit of the 'Alexandria Safe Zone,’ drive by their favorite character’s house from the show … or perhaps even purchase and live in it."
The original plans for the property included 17 brownstones, live-work townhomes, single family homes and factory loft-style condos.
"New construction will begin in earnest when 'Walking Dead' has fully wrapped, and we hope to complete the original vision for the Gin Property within the next few years," Tigchelaar said.
Over the years, residents of the area have joked about how they might prefer the walls to stay up once the show is finished, Tigchelaar said.
"However, the Gin Property has always been designed to be a seamless part of Senoia’s quaint, historic, walkable downtown. It’s been a great adventure being part of such an iconic show … but we’re ready to bring the story full circle and fulfill the Gin Property’s original vision."