By John Schaffner

The restart of construction at the Streets of Buckhead mixed-use development is once again being delayed—now until early next year, according to developer Ben Carter.

So, although Carter had said activity would begin anew this month, motorists passing by the site on Peachtree Road, between East Paces Ferry and Pharr roads, can expect for at least four more months to see cranes standing still amid the Buckhead skyline and over gaping holes in the landscape and a partially completed parking deck.

Carter, who is no stranger to developing major shopping centers, says he doesn’t want to proceed with construction until he has more leases in hand and the economy is stronger, which he says is better for those tenants for which he has signed leases.

The project, dubbed the Rodeo Drive of the South, will feature top-end fashion boutiques and restaurants, such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Hermes, Oscar de la Renta and others, was originally scheduled to open this November. It now looks like Phase I will not open until January of 2011.

Carter said he halted construction last January to renegotiate with his contractors, which saved $10 million in costs. Now the delay is to get more leases in hand. The project costs him $1 million a month now sitting idle. Carter says that will go up to $3 million a month once he restarts construction.

Carter claims about half of the 375,000 square feet of the first phase of the $800 million Streets project is leased. He says another 100,000 square feet are in “final negotiations” and 50,000 square feet are in “active negotiations. That includes five restaurants, 10 retailers, an entertainment concept and a spa/health club.

The continued delays to restarting construction is beginning to raise questions about the future of the project among some business and community leaders, as well as concerned Buckhead residents.