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Published on November 18th, 2015 |

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Garden Hills board approves Brand Properties project with conditions

After seven months of negotiations that resulted in a dramatic design change, the Garden Hills Civic Association board Tuesday night (Nov 17) voted to recommend approval of Brand Properties’

Brand Properties President Michael Hoath (left to right) and CEO Brand Morgan discuss the plan with Alhambra condo resident and Buckhead Condo Alliance President Ben Howard at the Nov. 17 meeting.

Brand Properties President Michael Hoath (left to right) and CEO Brand Morgan discuss the plan with Alhambra condo resident and Buckhead Condo Alliance President Ben Howard at the Nov. 17 meeting.

proposed mixed-use redevelopment for the former Garden Hills shopping center site at 2813 Peachtree Road.

But the vote of 18 in favor, 2 against and 2 abstentions did not happen without well more than an hour discussion by the GHCA board members of major issues such as increased cut-through and destination traffic in their neighborhood, parking on neighborhood streets and whether or not the project should have a curb cut on Peachtree Road.

The expressed feeling was that Brand Properties would get the requested zoning change for its project regardless of what Garden Hills voted as a neighborhood. And, there was discussion that it might end up in court if Brand Properties did not get its zoning change from the city.

Garden Hills Zoning Committee member Michael Isaacs, right, discusses the months of negotiations as Atlanta International School Headmaster and Garden Hills resident Kevin Glass listens.

Garden Hills Zoning Committee member Michael Isaacs, right, discusses the months of negotiations as Atlanta International School Headmaster and Garden Hills resident Kevin Glass listens.

But, in the end, it seemed that the consensus of the GHCA board was that brand properties had negotiated with the Garden Hills Zoning Committee in good faith and had over seven months agreed to just about all of the concessions Garden Hills had asked for from the original proposal.

The vote by the Garden Hills Civic Association should provide a major step for Brand Properties to achieve approval of its plans before the Zoning Committee of Neighborhood Planning Unit-B at its meeting Tuesday night, Nov. 24, at 7 p.m. at The Cathedral of St. Philip.

Brand Properties had met more than once not only with the Garden Hills residents, but also with the residents of condo buildings along Peachtree Road adjacent to the proposed office/retail mixed-use development.

Brand had again met Sunday, Nov. 15, with about 35 residents of the high-rise Gallery condominiums, located at 2795 Peachtree Road, just across

Some of the 40-plus residents of Garden Hills who attended the Nov. 17 meeting study the graphic boards of the project.

Some of the 40-plus residents of Garden Hills who attended the Nov. 17 meeting study the graphic boards of the project.

Rumson Road from the development site. On Tuesday night, some 40 Garden Hills residents attended the meeting with Brand Properties.

The Garden Hills meeting Tuesday night was at least the third time the developer had met with Garden Hills residents in a public meeting and outlined its proposed redevelopment of the property at 2813 Peachtree Road after a December 2013 fire destroyed the former one-story strip shopping center that had been at the location.

This is the original rendering of the Brand Properties proposed mixed-use project at 2815-2839 Peachtree Road in Garden Hills.

This is the original rendering of the Brand Properties proposed mixed-use project at 2815-2839 Peachtree Road in Garden Hills.

Among the concessions Brand Properties made to its original proposal—based on requests primarily from the Garden Hills Civic Association’s Zoning Committee—was to move the building closer to Peachtree Road to satisfy residents at Rumson Court townhomes across Vivian Lane at the back of the development.

Brand also changed the design of the building to appear more urban, reduced the height of the building from 167 feet to a maximum of 135 feet, reduced the number of parking spaces from 425 to 348, reduced the number of parking deck levels from six to four and the number of floors in the office building from six to five.

The architects Brand Properties are working with on the project are Wakefield Beasley Associates and ASD Design.

 

The above is the new site plan for the Brand Properties development, with the building moved forward toward Peachtree Road.

The above is the new site plan for the Brand Properties development, with the building moved forward toward Peachtree Road.

The above is the new design for the Brand Properties development at the site of the former Garden Hills shopping center.

The above is the new design for the Brand Properties development at the site of the former Garden Hills shopping center.

Brand agreed to eliminate one of two curb cuts on Peachtree Road, eliminated a drive-thru banking operation from the plan as well as agreed to support negotiations with the city regarding a number of Garden Hills traffic movement requests.

Among the traffic issues Brand agreed to was to allow exit only from its parking deck onto Vivian Lane, no left turn from the Rumson Road parking deck exit onto Rumson, no left turn from the Peachtree Road exit during evening rush hour, support protected turn movements at Rumson and Peachtree roads signal and support revised signal timing at that intersection.

Ben Howard, president of the Buckhead Condo Alliance who lives in the Alhambra condo building adjacent to the proposed development, still wants Brand to remove all curb cuts to the development on the Peachtree Road frontage, but it does not seem likely Brand will do that.

Brand Properties CEO Brand Morgan and President Michael Hoath kicked off the information part of Tuesday night’s Garden Hills Civic Association meeting by again explaining the changes that had been made from the original project design and going over the concessions the developer had made regarding requests from Garden Hills.

Garden Hills Civic Association President Bobby Wolf listens to the discussion during the board session as a graphic in the background shows the location of the development.

Garden Hills Civic Association President Bobby Wolf listens to the discussion during the board session as a graphic in the background shows the location of the development.

One very interested person in the audience at Tuesday night’s meeting was Clay Harper, one of the owners of Fellini’s Pizza and La Fonda restaurants, located adjacent to the proposed new development at the corner of Peachtree and Rumson roads.

One of the big issues Harper faces for his restaurants is the loss of parking for customers if parking is eliminated along the north side of Rumson Road between Vivian Lane and Peachtree. He now has less than 15 parking spaces for the two restaurants.

Harper, who first opened Fellini’s in the present La Fonda space 32 years ago, told BuckheadView he wished that Brand Properties had included his restaurants directly into the redevelopment plans for the whole block along Peachtree. But, he said, that did not happen.

Harper, who closed La Fonda for renovations earlier this week, said he would have been happy to negotiate a way for the two restaurants to be incorporated into the news design, but Brand Properties was not interested in discussing that. Harper and his partners own the small tract of land where Fellini’s and La Fonda are located. La Fonda is to reopen sometime in the spring.

Morgan and Hoath spent at least an hour answering questions from the audience before GHCA President Bobby Wolf convened the second part of

Brand Properties President Michael Hoath and CEO Brand Morgan confer prior to their presentation at the Garden Hills meeting Nov. 17

Brand Properties President Michael Hoath and CEO Brand Morgan confer prior to their presentation at the Garden Hills meeting Nov. 17

the meeting—the actual called board meeting. The board then spent at least an hour and a half discussing the Brand Properties revised plan before taking its vote to recommend approval of it.

Of the 18 votes to recommend approval of the Brand Properties proposal with conditions, two votes against and 2 abstentions, two of the votes were cast through emails.

Brand Properties and the Garden Hills Civic Association’s Zoning Committee still have to iron out a few details of a formal contract agreement between Garden Hills and Brand, which addresses the various concessions and is part of the package to be presented to the NPU-B Zoning Committee and full board and throughout the city’s zoning review process.

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    9 Responses to Garden Hills board approves Brand Properties project with conditions

    1. Betsy Scattergood says:

      To clarify, while Brand did meet more than once with Gallery and at least once with Alhambra’s HOA president, neither were provided an opportunity by Brand to review the new design in advance of it being presented as essentially fait accompli.
      In addition, it’s unclear why it’s necessary to allow ANY left turn in or out from a Peachtree Rd curb cut. It would work in opposition to the city’s goal to have fewer curb cuts and against the Peachtree Rd project objective to make Peachtree Rd safer to drive.

      • Ben Howard says:

        The statement regarding the Alhambra being included in the conversations regarding the first concept but not the second are accurate. As the President of the Alhambra, we received word that Brand was going to the NPU with concept two via http://www.BuckheadView.com, and were provided a document that I assume originated from Brand through local contacts, not from the developer directly.

    2. JeffreyK says:

      I hope GDOT weighs in on this. This is a GDOT road and is part of Safety Project 0012870. There should be no left turns allowed into or out of the Peachtree entrance at any time of day or night. It’s crazy there is an entrance/exit there in the first place.
      And how can they take away parking from La Fonda and Fellini’s (or anyone else) on Rumson? Is that not a city street?
      Sounds like Brand is promising the world to Garden Hills, and Garden Hills may be in for a rude surprise when all is finalized.

      • John Schaffner says:

        Jeffrey: As I am sure you already know, left turns onto Peachtree are allowed and take place every day out of the 60-plus curb cuts on Peachtree Road between Pharr Road and Collier Road. If we restrict this curb cut, we should restrict every curb cut on Peachtree Road to right-in, right-out unless it is controlled with a traffic signal. Also, the parking on Rumson does not belong to La Fonda or Fellini’s. And, Brand has not promised to remove it. Brand has agreed to support the Garden Hills Civic Association’s request that it be removed in order to reduce the stacking of cars at the traffic light at Peachtree and Rumson and to provide for a right turn lane, a left turn lane and a straight through lane on Rumson at that traffic signal. That would help with the stacking problem, if the drivers are smart enough to get in their correct lane, which is always a gamble.

        • Ben Howard says:

          Per the conversations that I’ve had with GDOT Representatives, it is their goal to reduce and or restrict access to Peachtree where it makes sense as new development comes to light. The most current example of this I think can be seen at Branch’s proposed development just south of Lindbergh and Peachtree. The three parcels that are being combined will reduce road cuts from at least 3-4 driveways on Peachtree to 1 if I’m not mistaken. Granted I’m not as familiar with that project, but from the drawing I have seen, that is the benefit I remember.

          I would argue they don’t need that cut either given their other points of access, but 1 is better than 3-4 without question. Assuming that Branch’s access is voluntarily reduced and not eliminated completely, I’d be happy to see it as limited access (right-in, right-out) by putting in a “pork chop” to mandate access. We’ve all seen limited access signs be less than effective.

    3. Jeff says:

      Still looks like a prison. Worse now that it’s so close to the street. Just my opinion. Anyone want to buy a condo across the street at the gallery? Mine will be available shortly.

    4. Pingback: News Briefs: Peachtree-Pine shelter; Garden Hills building; Evans last meal - Atlanta INtown Paper

    5. Pingback: Changes At Garden Hills Fellini's | What Now Atlanta

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