|This mapping of the project and area were done|
by Gordon Certain for his newsletter.
The 21-acre development proposed by JLB Partners and Core Property Capital would front on Roswell Road, with a driveway off of West Wieuca Road. Plans include 700 apartments and 130,000 square feet of retail space on the site that now has 426 apartment units. A total of over 1,700 parking spaces are planned at the development.
The proposed development, which would replace the old and worn Chastain and Versailles apartment complexes, has been valued by the developers at $150 million. JLB Partners is the lead developer and would do the apartments and Core Property Capital would to the retail.
The issues that have brought together the north Buckhead and south Sandy Springs neighborhoods involve:
- The density of the development and the impact that it will have on already congested traffic in the area,
- A big-box type grocery store of 60,000 square feet (30,000 square feet more than presently allowed by the city’s comprehensive development plan),
- The height of the apartment structures and parking deck,
- The positioning of the retail, backing up directly to an adjacent residential neighborhood, Cherokee Park.
- The style of the development and the buildings.
|The color site plan shows apartments to right and left and retail|
top and bottom Roswell Road is at top, Wieuca at right.
The proposed development site does not include the Roswell/Wieuca corner site occupied by Avril’s Car Wash and the strip up to Caribou Coffee, nor the Rite-Aid drugstore/AAA building site, nor the Stor-All site on the north.
Ron Comacho, co-chair of the JLB Development Review Committee and past president of the Cherokee Park Civic Association, outlined the concerns at the Oct. 11 meeting of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods at the invitation of BCN chair Jim King and Gordon Certain, president of the North Buckhead Civic Association.
|Ron Comacho describes the site plan during|
the meeting of the BCN last Thursday.
Both King and Certain have been actively involved in discussions related to the proposed development, along with the chairs of north Buckhead Neighborhood Planning Units A and B.
“Lower Sandy Springs and Buckhead are one area neighborhood,” King said at the BCN meeting. In fact, the Chastain Park Civic Association, of which King is president, includes representation from Sandy Springs, as well as Buckhead, neighborhoods.
Fairly universally, the sentiments expressed by community leaders on both sides of the Buckhead/Sandy Springs line are a desire to upgrade development along the Roswell Road corridor but a belief that the present plans do not fit the criteria for a quality mixed-use development in that community environment.
The community representatives have proposed to the developers changes they would like to see in the present plans and have a meeting Wednesday (Oct. 17) with the developers to try to get a new, improved, agreed upon and more detailed version of the site plan.
|A mapping of the proposed site plan with grocery store in foreground|
and apartments to left encircling the seven-story parking desk. Also,
apartments are to the right with the access onto Wieuca Road.
But this is just the beginning of the process. The issue will not come before the Sandy Sprigs City Council for a vote until December at the earliest. Between now and then it will be fully vetted by the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods and the Sandy Springs Design Review Board, as well as those neighborhoods now involved in the negotiations.
There is a Sandy Springs Planning Commission meeting scheduled for this application on Thursday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. at the Sandy Springs City Hall, 7840 Roswell Road, Bldg. 500.
|A rendering of what the residential apartments would look like.|
At the BCN meeting last week, Comacho read a letter that Cherokee Park Civic Association president Rob Meinzen sent to the Sandy Springs Design Review Board which outlined the concerns and what the CPCA would like to see changed in the plans.
“The current site plan and architectural design do not reflect what we feel will establish the upscale trend that we believe the community would like to see as a trend along the Roswell Road Corridor. We would like to see a project that reflects the general guidelines as established in the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, the 2008 Livable Centers Initiative Report and the recent Goody Clancy recommendations,” the letter stated.
|This is a rendering of the proposed retail area with the big box grocery.|
The letter further said, “We are aware that 'density' is not always a factor in establishing the ‘character’ of a development, however in this case we believe that the scale of density for this project is totally inappropriate for this site. Based on analysis of the traffic study – the inevitable Roswell Road traffic congestion will contribute to congestion on West Wieuca, Lake Forrest Drive, Windsor Parkway and will encourage significant cut-thru traffic in the surrounding Chastain Park, Cherokee Park, Highpoint, Meadowbrook and North Buckhead neighborhoods. The traffic increase through these neighborhoods will contribute to unsafe conditions particularly during youth athletic leagues, Chastain concert series and during Galloway School hours.”
What the neighborhood letter requested:
- A less dense/lower height project – capped at 4-stories.
- Improved overall design in character and transition.
- Repositioned large retail and apartment structures.
- Increased buffers with more green space.
Comacho pointed out that the way the developers positioned the big box retail, the loading docks at the back of the store back right up to the back yards of single-family residential in the Cherokee Park neighborhood. He added that the seven-story planned parking deck also backs up to the rear yards of Cherokee Park homes.
|BCN chair and Chastain|
Park Civic Assoc.
President Jim King
Meinzen also sent a letter on Oct. 8 to Laura Beall, land use division director for the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA), highlighting the association’s concerns related to increased traffic congestion on Rowell and Wieuca roads and the surrounding neighborhoods and neighborhood streets.
That letter concluded: “Our hope is that the Greater (sic) Regional Transportation Authority will discourage a project of this density and encourage a more appropriate, lower-density project that would be suitable to the community.”
GRTA will analyze the traffic situations in the area as a part of the ARC’s study of the project as a development of regional impact. Those The traffic issues have been the main focus on Certain and his North Buckhead Civic Association.
The proposed Roswell Road project is being compared by the community leaders to the big-box development proposal of Fuqua Development for the Lindbergh area of south Buckhead, which was recently turned down by the Atlanta City Council.
|North Buckhead Civic Assoc.|
President Gordon Certain
However, the Lindbergh project was not deemed large enough to demand a review by the Atlanta Regional Commission as a development of regional impact, where the Roswell Road project does fit the requirement. The Roswell Road site does not fit the definition of a “transit-oriented development,” which the Lindbergh property is designated as.
Hudson Hooks, regional partner JLB Partners, told BuckheadView a month ago that he had been meeting with Neighborhood Planning Unit-B chair Sally Silver to discuss the intentions of JLB/Core to make this a “gateway to Sandy Spings” and discuss the effects of the project on the north Buckhead area.
Silver confirmed with BuckheadView that she has met with the developers on a few occasions and also has met with the representatives of the Sandy Springs neighborhoods and community organizations reviewing and negotiating regarding the proposed development.
Silver is familiar with both Hooks and JLB Partners, because of the large apartment project JLB is presently developing on Pharr Road, just east of Peachtree and across the street from the Buckhead Atlanta project. All of the reviews for that project went through NPU-B for approvals.
|JLB regional partner Hudson Hooks|
speaking last month at a Bisnow
forum on multi-family housing.
She told BuckheadView she is “delighted to see someone come forward” with an interest in redeveloping that property on Roswell Road, but she described this proposal as “a strip mall with residential plopped down in it….a big old grocery store and parking lot in the middle of it.”
The veteran in dealing with developers and their attorneys objects to the seven-floor parking deck “wrapped by five floors of apartment with a height of 84 feet. They need a 24-foot variance over the 60 feet that is allowable on that site according to the comprehensive development plan that was passed in 2007.”
Fox pointed out that Sandy Springs already has an imbalance of apartments to single-family homes (about 54 to 46 percent). So, she said she asked the developers to build out the apartments to condominium standards, so that as the market changes they might be able to be sold as condos.
She said if the developers would take stock in the area, they could produce “a lovely project to get rid of outdated and obsolete apartments.”