Published on November 18th, 2015 |9
Garden Hills board approves Brand Properties project with conditions
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.