Published on December 2nd, 2015 |0
Brand Properties gets final NPU-B okay for Peachtree Rd. zoning
After months of deferrals with the NPU’s Zoning Committee in order to continue neighborhood negotiations, Brand Properties finally completed Tuesday, Dec. 1, the NPU-B phase of its zoning request review after a much shorter discussion than took place during the Zoning Committee’s meeting Nov. 24, which led to an approval vote of 9-4 with one recusal.
The Tuesday night full NPU-B board vote came just two days shy of the second anniversary of the Dec. 3, 2013 fire that destroyed the former strip shopping center and Garden Hills Cinema that had occupied that landscape for many decades, although much of it vacant in recent years.
The vote on Dec. 1 reflected the same people voting the same way they did on Nov. 24, but with the additional full board members adding five votes in favor of the zoning change and two new votes in opposition.
One amendment that was added Dec. 1 to the motion to approve the zoning application was a condition that Brand Properties be required to monitor the historic integrity of the neighboring Alhambra condominiums building during the construction of the Brand development.
That was one of three conditions that Alhambra resident and board president Ben Howard had requested at the
beginning of discussions on the zoning application by the full board. The other two were to retain the transitional height plane required under C-1 zoning and to eliminate from the plan a curb cut for an entrance to the development off of Peachtree Road. Those two were rejected.
The application will now be reviewed by the city’s Zoning Review Board at its meetings either Dec. 3 or 10.
Much of the discussion at both of the NPU-B meetings on the zoning application has centered on concerns over traffic issues, both from Buckhead residents who opposed the Brand Properties project plans, those who favored the plans and members of the NPU board and committee.
The traffic issues were addressed to the board by both Howard and Michael Horowitz, a board member of the 2828 condos across Peachtree Road, who said he had 20-some letters from condo owners in his building expressing concerns about traffic—especially turning left onto Peachtree out of their driveways. There are 79 condo units at 2828.
Horowitz saw the primary problem being cars stacking up to turn left at the light at Rumson to enter the new development parking off of Rumson. He said the residents of his condo building, the Crestwood and Cathedral Towers have no alternative of going to a traffic signal to turn left onto Peachtree.
Horowitz said the Garden Hills Civic Association “is driving this issue” with the concessions they have gotten from
Brand Properties. “But we have 120 residents on the west side of Peachtree” who he claimed have not been part of the negotiations.
Brand Properties President Michael Hoath told the NPU board, “We have had at least 25 meetings with various groups representing neighboring residents to the project of the past several months and have made a number of concessions based on those meetings. But, we cannot make everybody happy.”
He said to make the concessions Howard and Horowitz want Brand to make at this point would be in opposition to the agreements Brand has made with the Garden Hills neighborhood.
The zoning application had been originally filed in May of this year and Brand Properties had been deferring its scheduled appearances before the NPU-B Zoning Committee since that time in order to completely negotiate with neighboring groups to gain consensus and approval for the development.
Over the period of those many months, Brand Properties had completely changed the design of the building, repositioned the main building to along the Peachtree Road sidewalk, reduced the height of the office building by 20 feet, reduced the number of parking spaces and agreed to a long list of concessions requested by the Garden Hills neighborhood and other neighbors.
The city’s Bureau of Planning staff had recommended that Brand apply for the new zoning designation for the property from C-1-C to MRC-2 in accordance with
the city’s Comprehensive Development Plan recommended uses for that area of Peachtree.
What Brand is now proposing—after many changes to the original plan—is a building that will have 5 stories of office space above two levels of retail space and four levels of parking, two levels of parking being behind the Peachtree fronting retail spaces. Much of the parking would be below Peachtree Road grade, with only 7 total stories above Peachtree Road grade.
Among the concessions Brand has made on the project have been reducing the square footage of the project from 135,000 to 134,500, reducing the height of the building from 167 feet to 135 feet, reducing the number of office floors from 6 to 5, reducing the number of parking levels from 6 to 4 and the number of parking spaces from 425 to 348.
Brand also has agreed to reduce the Peachtree Road curb cuts from 2 to 1, remove a drive-thru bank teller operation and a host of other concessions that are part of a private conditions agreement (contract) with the Garden Hills neighborhood.
Brand had finally received an 18-2-2 vote approval from the Garden Hills Civic Association board, a verbal approval from the neighbors at the Rumson Court townhomes and written support from Clay Harper, one of the owners of adjacent Fellini’s Pizza and La Fonda restaurants.
(To read the earlier BuckheadView story from the Zoning Committee meeting Nov. 24, click here.)