New Developments This rendering shows the view of the building superimposed on a photo taken from the parking lot of Peachtree Battle Shopping Center.

Published on January 19th, 2016 |

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Branch Properties, Peachtree Hills work out high-rise project changes

Some 50 or more Peachtree Hills residents attended a meeting with Branch Properties representatives Jan. 13 to discuss plans for a high-rise mixed-use apartment/retail development at the corner of Peachtree Road and Terrace Drive, adjacent to the Peachtree Battle Shopping Center—an anticipated contentious confrontation that was civil and very calm.

The above rendering shows the changes made to the previous plans as seen looking north on Peachtree Road toward Terrace Drive.

The above rendering shows the changes made to the previous plans as seen looking north on Peachtree Road toward Terrace Drive.

The reasons this meeting was calmer than one held Nov. 11were: Branch Properties had agreed to several concessions in advance of the Jan. 13 meeting at Covenant Presbyterian Church and the demeanor of the meeting was established in advance by Peachtree Hills Zoning Committee chair Kathleen Moriarty.

Through a series of meetings with neighborhood representatives, Branch executives and their attorney Carl Westmoreland had drawn up an agreement to reduce the height of the building from 21 stories to 15 and reduced the amount of retail space from 30,000 square feet to 15,000.

The above two site plans show the original one at left and the revised on at the right.

The above two site plans show the original one at left and the revised on at the right.

In addition to those two concessions, Branch had addressed neighborhood objections to demolishing a historic former book bindery company building on the site by agreeing to retain the front 2,600 square feet of the building (the historic part) as part of the 15,000 square feet of retail space. The back part of the historic building was added in the 1950s and 1960s.

The major issue consistently brought up by residents—as they one-by-one asked questions of Branch representatives during the hour-and-a-half meeting—involved controlling traffic through the Peachtree Hills neighborhood streets.

The property involved is 1.866 acres at the corner of Peachtree and Terrace and is currently occupied by a Burger King, Design Within Reach and the

This rendering shows the proposed building at left as seen approaching from east to west on Terrace Drive.

This rendering shows the proposed building at left as seen approaching from east to west on Terrace Drive.

antique store. The Burger King and antique store are zoned C-3, unconditional, as is the balance of the Peachtree Battle Center. The Design Within Reach property was zoned C-1 with conditions to permit the Loop Pizza restaurant several years ago.

The application proposes to zone the property C-3 conditioned on a site plan and other conditions for a residential building with parking accommodated in a deck under and to the rear of the building. The development would include approximately 251 one- and two-bedroom apartments.

In terms of vehicular access, the building will use the existing drive from the upper Publix parking deck onto Terrace Drive and also have access through the shopping center to the Peachtree/Peachtree Battle traffic signal, as well as other shopping center driveways to Peachtree. There would be an additional non-signalized curb cut on Peachtree.

Branch Properties has owned Peachtree Battle Shopping Center since 1982 and this would add a residential component.

The four major issues the neighborhood had previously identified in meetings with Branch were:

  • They wanted the historic book bindery building to remain;
    Photo from the Jan. 11 meeting shows Branch Properties team , left to right, Senior VP Jack Haylett, attorney Carl Westmoreland and Exec. VP Richard Lee.

    Photo from the Jan. 11 meeting shows Branch Properties team , left to right, Senior VP Jack Haylett, attorney Carl Westmoreland and Exec. VP Richard Lee.

  • The height of the building
  • Too much retail footage overall
  • Did not like the look of the Peachtree Road retail frontage.

Westmoreland told the Peachtree Hills residents that an agreement had been worked out to deal with the neighborhood’s issues that would reduce the height of the building, would retain the front 2,600 square feet of the former book bindery building, would eliminate the low level Peachtree Road retail of the former plan and place the reduced retail space on the first floor of the high-rise residential tower while retaining the former book bindery for retail as well. .

He said the agreement also would ask the city to take the approximately $120,000 in impact fees generated from the project and dedicate it to sidewalk and road work as the neighborhood sees fit.

This slide from Branch's Jan. 13 presentation shows the proposed improvements to the Terrace Drive intersection at the back end of the Peachtree Battle Shopping Center property, with new plan at right. .

This slide from Branch’s Jan. 13 presentation shows the proposed improvements to the Terrace Drive intersection at the back end of the Peachtree Battle Shopping Center property, with new plan at right. .

In addition, Branch has agreed to make improvements to the intersection Terrace Drive at the back end of the shopping center that would shrink the road width, add a median strip and a stop sign to slow down traffic.

Westmoreland also said Branch agreed to pay Peachtree Hills $1,000 per month to cover the cost of any additional security the neighborhood felt it would have to engage because of the apartment/retail development.

Representing Branch Properties at the Jan. 13 meeting were Executive Vice President Richard Lee, Senior Vice President Jack Haylett, Morris Manning and Martin Attorney Westmoreland, project architect Bob Preston and a traffic study person with Kimley Horn consulting firm.

Quietly sitting in the audience throughout the meeting was real estate and zoning attorney Pete Hendricks who was hired to work with the

City Councilman Howard Shook checks his notes as he makes a point with the audience.

City Councilman Howard Shook checks his notes as he makes a point with the audience.

neighborhood association. Also attending the meeting was Dist. 7 Atlanta City Councilman Howard Shook.

Shook primarily got involved in the discussion of traffic and sidewalk issues brought up by residents in the neighborhood and their requests that Branch provide additional sidewalks and traffic-calming instruments through an extended area of Peachtree Hills besides that immediately adjacent to the new project.

For instance, more than one resident asked for sidewalks extending along Terrace Drive all the way from Lindbergh to Peachtree roads. Shook told the audience that city engineers have to make the decisions on sidewalks and 75 percent of the property owners that would be affected by the new sidewalks have to agree they want them.

Branch's Jack Haylett shows results of a study done to show residents the shadows the new building was cast at different hours of the day.

Branch’s Jack Haylett shows results of a study done to show residents the shadows the new building was cast at different hours of the day.

Responding to what he was hearing from those asking questions at the meeting, Shook also said “the neighborhood needs to get together and discuss a more holistic approach to the improvements being discussed—and which the developer cannot be responsible for—and bring them to the city.

The Branch representatives were asked what the mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments would be and what the rental rates would be.

Haylett said there would be 45 percent one-bedroom and 55 percent two-bedroom and they would rent for about $250 per square foot. He said that meant the apartment rents would range between $2,500 and $4,000 per month.

Haylett also said the anticipated tenant mix would be 55 percent between the ages of 35 and 54, 25 percent over age 55 and 20 percent below the age of 35.

One resident asked the Branch Properties team, “What is the benefit to the neighborhood?”

Attorney Westmoreland responded, “Not sure there is a benefit. But, something is likely to happen here. The property is zoned high-density commercial. We may not have satisfied everybody, but we have tried to,” he added.

The development is likely to again be on the agenda of the Neighborhood Planning Unit-B Zoning Committee for its meeting Jan. 26. Since there appears to be agreement on most of the major issues with the neighborhood, it likely will be heard this month after Branch taking deferrals for the past two months.

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    10 Responses to Branch Properties, Peachtree Hills work out high-rise project changes

    1. Laura Dobson says:

      No offense, but this article is a huge disservice to the MANY residents of Peachtree Hills that still have grave concerns over this development. More people commented at the second meeting than the first. How can that be construed as having issues being worked out?

      Furthermore, in regards to the historic building. Branch is not saving the building. Please stop saying that since it is inaccurate. The existing building is approx 15K square feet (with the additions done in the 50s and 60s). The original footprint … built by two fo the most famous Atlanta architects that ever practiced in Atlanta … is approx 6,000. Branch is only *proposing* to keep 2,600 square feet and even then hasn’t committed to that. And here’s the reality of it … as often is the case with historic buildings torn apart like Branch is proposing, it is likely the building will be deemed “structurally compromised” as soon as the wrecking ball hits.

      And by the way, in regards to your “calmer meeting” comment. Members of the PHCA were sent an email prior to that meeting that basically threatened anyone that spoke passionately or out of turn with dismissal from the meeting.

      But do not mistake threat of dismissal with agreement.

    2. Louis Corrigan says:

      I’m a longtime Peachtree Hills resident who is strongly opposed to the Branch plan. The reason the meeting wasn’t contentious is that our neighborhood leadership threatened to remove people like me from the meeting if we expressed our opinions. The leadership acts like there is no alternative to caving into the proposal. If you assumed that was not true and asked residents whether they favor this plan vs. a scaled down plan, a large majority would vote against this plan. At least Mr. Westmoreland was honest when asked about the benefit to the neighborhood: There is none. In fact, this development will flood the neighborhood with cut-through traffic. What is the point of a zoning review system where the rights of one commercial property owner trump the wishes of the majority of residents in a neighborhood?

      • Atlanta Guy says:

        Progress is going to continue on Peachtree and in Buckhead. If you’ve read anything about the city lately, you’ll see that Atlanta is on fire right now and it the number one city for millenials in 2016. The fact of the matter is that Atlanta — and Buckhead — is indeed changing. And if there are folks that don’t like that, perhaps its time for them to cash in on their real estate and look to move elsewhere.

    3. Charlie L. says:

      So to be clear, I posted the exact wording from the Peachtree Hills email.

      • Anyone being rude or trying to talk over others will be asked to be quiet or be asked to leave.

      It clearly did not mention anything about not being allowed expressed your opinion. It is apparent by the tone in both of your posts above, this statement might have been directed at you specifically.

    4. Laura Dobson says:

      Charlie L, since I and the other commenter posted our full name, it’s interesting you didn’t.

      Are you the writer of this article or a resident? I couldn’t find the article attributed to anyone but if you are the writer … you misrepresented the meeting. And if you aren’t the writer, the meeting was misrepresented.

      At the first meeting where Branch presented in November, there were approximately 25 people in the room. At the second meeting there were over 40-50. And there were many more concerns raised in the second meeting than the first. That would imply, at least, that issues have NOT been worked out despite your headline.

      If you are the writer of this article, you did a disservice to the MANY people that commented in the second meeting. Their input should be important but clearly you didn’t feel the comments made during the second meeting had any worth. Not to mention that Branch Properties has not addressed any of the concerns or requests from the second meeting.

      If Buckhead View is a legitimate news source, then I believe it should properly report the news as an unbiased and informed voice.

      • John Schaffner says:

        Whoever Charlie L is, he is not the writer of the article posted at BuckheadView.com. The writer of the article was me, John Schaffner, owner and editor of BuckheadView.com. And, I feel that the meeting was properly reported on by BuckhedView.com. Unlike many of those commenting on the article, I am unbiased and pretty well informed on the issue. I do not live in Peachtree Hills, so I do not have a personal stake in this. And, my only previous association with Branch Properties has been as a shopper at their Peachtree Battle Shopping Center.

    5. Pat says:

      The leader of the Peachtree Hills Zoning Committee advised residents of the following on 1/20/16 regarding the rezoning of the Design Within Reach property.

      “The assistant to our city councilperson has already stated to the press that this rezoning will be approved. We have hired one of the best zoning attorneys in the city to represent us and his counsel is that the city planning department will most certainly recommend approval and the Zoning Review Board and City Council will follow planning recommendation. The Branch team will most likely get approval whether we recommend approval or not. If we do not recommend approval contingent upon the most recent site plans and the written agreement that addresses the points made in the meeting last week: i.e. the median at the intersection of Terrace and Glenwood and a monthly contribution to the PHCA for security, we could end up with nothing.”

      This proposed development will certainly increase cut-through traffic through the Peachtree Hills neighborhood. This is a neighborhood that already has a fairly high level of cut-through with very few sidewalks. This means that children, families, people walking their dogs, etc. will be sharing the streets with even more traffic. This is dangerous for everyone involved. The city says that they care about preserving in-town neighborhoods. If that is the case, then the Atlanta city zoning committee would require Branch Properties to restrict right hand turns from their development onto Terrace which is one of the gateways into the Peachtree Hills neighborhood.

    6. Tommy Mason says:

      Was there any discussion of our city’s overworked water and sewer systems that this will certainly impact?

    7. Krista says:

      Buckhead doesn’t need more apartments or condos. The traffic is out of control and until our government can improve traffic/ transit issues, they should have a building freeze on all high rise developments!!

    8. Pingback: Proposed Peachtree Hills Tower Set To Break Ground | What Now Atlanta

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