Saturday, January 9, 2016
Dunwoody's skyline is proposed to change with the addition of Crown Towers along 285
Earlier this week, I received a call from a well known respected developer who has had a string of successful Atlanta area projects on his resume including Atlantic Station & Lenox Park asking for a meeting because he wanted to brief me on a proposed project before it became front page news on Friday. After work on Wednesday, I met with Mr. Charlie Brown, Mr. Doug Dillard and others from their teams to discuss their preliminary plans for a large 380 unit development consisting of owner occupied units (with up to 10% rental) to then be followed up with other office buildings. They informed me that the Gold Kist site (behind Best Buy & Rooms to Go) was in play and that they wanted to rezone the section of the property closest to the corner of Ashford Dunwoody & I-285 to build one or two residential towers of high rise condos (shown in pink below) with one of the buildings having a high end hotel at the bottom as well as one additional building of retail. The rest of the site already has the zoning in place for office buildings, retail, convention space and even a separate hotel tower so the only thing they are proposing in this first segment of the development is the rezoning request for the residential towers.
I think the meeting lasted a little more than an hour and as this was a preliminary filing where a thousand things could change before it comes back in front of me as a sitting City Council member there was a lot of back and forth. We discussed zoning mix, rental vs owner occupied, school impacts, live work play, transportation impacts, green space, connectivity with paths, LEED certified buildings, LCI, convention space with a possible large auditorium, connectivity with Marta, the 285 / 400 interchange improvements and finally something that wasn't shown on any of the drawings, the Westside Connector.
There are two very big unknowns in this project and both revolve around transportation. The first is associated with the 285 / 400 project as the final right of way drawings have yet to be released and if this section of the property is squeezed or narrowed by a right of way taking, there may only be room for one residential tower. If that happens, the developer would like to build just one 40 story tower (six stories larger than the King & Queen building at the Concourse) with a hotel on the bottom third of the building.
The second unknown is the fact that drawings provided by the developer do not take into consideration that there are plans on the table for a $20 million dollar Westside Connector proposal that I believe should be an integral part of this development. This is where there would be a tunnel under Ashford Dunwoody for a lane traffic coming off Westbound 285 at Ashford Dunwoody connecting directly on to this property and it would serve as a connection to Perimeter Center Parkway (State Farm and future High Street Development) and possibly to Peachtree Dunwoody. This same connector road would loop back and would tie in to directly to put traffic back onto 285 Westbound. Finally it is this connector proposal which would include room for a multiuse trail going from the Ravinia property, under Ashford Dunwoody and towards Peachtree Dunwoody and 285 where there will be a special lane in the tunnel for the multiuse path under 285 to the path coming up GA400 from Buckhead. Mr. Brown clearly stated that his firm would be willing grant the right of way from his property needed from the Crown Towers development to make the Westside Connector work but there are still questions as to the timeline for the approvals and the funding of the project.
The conversations ended with a discussion that this was just the preliminary proposal and the project could morph and change in the coming months as the transportation items are determined, the full project is drawn up and presented at public meetings including a presentation of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association and the City's Planning Commission before it would be voted upon by the City Council.
You now know as much as I do, but here is an AJC article which is also very informative and a slideshow of the photos here.