Published on February 12th, 2016 |1
Joy at last! Edens to begin Moores Mill center redevelopment March 2
After well more than a decade of waiting on the part of these northwest Atlanta residents for a supermarket in their neighborhood and cleaning up the blight of the former shopping center, the only thing missing Thursday night was the church choir singing the Hallelujah chorus.
“We’re very, very excited to be here at this point and I cannot thank all of you enough for your patience,” said Edens Vice President-Southeast Herbert Ames. “In June of 2017 we’re going to have a big old party” (when the new Publix supermarket is scheduled to open).
Ames said Publix has signed off on all of its plans—which include a pharmacy—and will be going to the city for permitting in a couple of days. He said vertical work should begin at the site in June of this year.
In addition to the long-awaited 45,600-square-foot Publix, the $95 million development will include an additional approximately 25,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and 345 apartment units, Ames told the crowd that filled the church.
Ames said that Dist. 9 Atlanta City Councilwoman Felicia Moore, who hosted the town hall meeting Feb. 11 and has fought the battle for this development for more than a decade, had been promised “she gets to ride the bulldozer first” as demolition begins of the series of boarded-up, decaying former stores on the site.
The northwest Atlanta shopping center is located at the intersection of Moores Mill Road and Bolton Road, and is bordered by Marietta Boulevard. The area has been called a “food desert” because it lacks a supermarket and has few restaurants.
The retail component of the redeveloped shopping center will cost $40 million of the $95 million total project cost and is planned to include three or four restaurants in 10,000 square feet, Ames said That will include a coffee shop, one or two sit-down restaurants and a fast-casual restaurant.
Asked if there were any tenants yet for the restaurant space, Ames said, “No leases have been signed, but there has been a lot of great interest.”
The residential component will cost $55 million and will be done by a yet-to-be-announced residential developer, Ames said, pointing out that Edens is a retail developer, not residential. The residential part of the development is planned to open 6 to 8 months after the Publix opens, or late 2017 to early 2018. Sixty percent of the apartments will be one-bedroom.
Ames said he first started working on the center in 2005, but it was delayed by a pair of lawsuits that went to the Georgia Supreme Court, a constitutional amendment that overturned one of those
court rulings, the recession and a tussle over public funding for an extension of Moores Mill Road that has been considered crucial to the project.
“I have all the grey hairs from the past 11 years with this project. It is not supposed to be this hard,” Ames told the group, choking up with emotion. “The community support that this project has had is something I have never seen before.”
Councilwoman Moore has worked diligently over more than a decade to keep the project alive through years of the delays. Last year, she pushed through $800,000 in city funding for the Moores Mill Road extension when it seemed federal funding might not be available.
It appeared as though fellow City Councilman Andre Dickens may have stolen some of Moore’s thunder at the Thursday night meeting when he announced the $2 million in federal funds for the Moores Mill Road extension was finally available.
Moore said she had reserved that announcement for Ames to make, but neither Ames nor Moore actually confirmed to the audience what Dickens had announced. The actual availability of that funding had been a sticking point for the past many months of negotiations.
The extension of Moores Mill Road, as originally planned, is to connect through the shopping center to Marietta Boulevard and then across Marietta to connect to Adams Drive in the Adams Park neighborhood.
Ames told the mostly appreciative audience that Edens will construct the Moores Mill Road extension from Bolton Road to the Publix supermarket.
The city’s Public Works Department has assured Edens and Moore that the remainder of the road extension to Marietta Boulevard will be completed when the Publix is ready to open.
Enthusiasm for the redevelopment didn’t mean that those attending the Thursday night meeting were without questions. Those focused on security at the new development, parking spaces, traffic signals involved with the road extension and where MARTA buses will be allowed to stop.
Ames explained that the development will have several security cameras that will be coordinated and integrated with the Atlanta Police Department’s main video monitoring center in downtown Atlanta.
Asked where trucks will take the demolition debris from the site, Ames told the concerned residents that a lot of the debris will be reused on site. “I have been so concerned about tearing down the buildings, I have not thought about where the trucks will go (routes),” Ames added.
He said the traffic signal at Moores Mill and Bolton roads will remain and that a traffic signal will be added where Moores Mill connects with and crosses Marietta Boulevard.
It was also announced that Edens is contributing $100,000 toward improvements of Gonzalez Park adjacent to the development.
The Edens executive said there will be 300 surface parking spaces for the Publix supermarket and a parking deck that will service the residential units and the additional retail. As for parking for MARTA buses, he said that is being discussed with MARTA management.
At the end of the meeting, Ames stayed around to answer questions one-on-one with those who attended the meeting.
It was announced Friday that Ames will be the principle speaker at the bi-monthly meeting of the Northwest Community Alliance at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 16th at the Northside Church of God, 1736 Harper St., NW at the corner of Defoor Avenue.