Thursday, February 8, 2018

Dunwoody Mixed Use Project proposed on former City Hall site - 2 acre park, 300 apts, 900 condos, 19 story office tower, restaurants & shops.



On Monday night the Dunwoody City Council will be hearing a proposal by Grubb Properties to rezone the former City Hall site and related buildings on Perimeter Center East to allow a mixed use project which would be developed over the next 10 years to include a 2 acre park, 300 apartments, 900 condos, a 19 story office tower, numerous restaurants & shops.

If passed by Council, I believe this would be the first rezoning that would allow an increase of rental multi-family units but the size of these rental units would be limited in scope to focus towards young professionals working in the area.  The 2 acre park is an amenity that is sorely needed in the area and when surrounded by shops and restaurants located in the first floor of the two buildings abutting the amenity it might draw businesses from surrounding residential units including the Georgetown community via the new bridge and trail that will be constructed for another project under construction.   The new condos would allow members of our community to age in place by allowing them to sell the big family home in order to downsize to single level living.  The office tower proposed would add job opportunities to that community whereby many working in that tower might also live in the new complex.  The office aspect answers my concerns that the development in that area is already residential heavy and the office adds a balance to the uses.

  • I have concerns on the traffic data that I need to study more but there is language in the agreement that the property will continue funding a shuttle to the Dunwoody MARTA Station.  
  • I am not a fan of private streets and I will want to know how that will impact public use.  
  • I have concerns on the ambiguity on the number of units in each building as many of the drawings state between 250 & 350 units and am concerned that the rental units may swell and at some point other aspects of the project would be sold off therefore I will be asking questions on that point.
  • Sewer capacity is a huge unknown at this point and is that an issue that needs to be addressed prior to a Council decision?  
  • There is a school impact study included in the packet that I need wrap my head around that shows they anticipate this development at complete build-out in ten years adding 65 children to the DeKalb School System.  This development proposal includes unit size protections thereby possibly limiting the number of school children as there will be no three bedroom rental units, 50% of all units will be studio or one bedroom, only 10% of the condo units will be 3 bedroom, so I am then assuming that the other 40% of the units will all be two bedroom units.  
  • I have concerns about the mix of other "Development Entitlements" that were granted to other properties prior to Cityhood and how if they are developed as planed they would impact city services and quality of life?  Do I weigh the maybe of another future development that I would have limited control over, impact my decision on this proposal?

Seeing that my parents successfully downsized from a four bedroom single family home to a two bedroom / two bath condo, with a nice balcony, in unit laundry, deeded in building parking, in building storage units, prewired for cable and internet, elevators and a gathering place outside to be social - I see this condo development as a viable option for those seniors who are looking to stay close to family & friends yet downsize to single level living.  The list of amenities being offered in the residential units are slim and I would want to hear more details as well as hear about the use of Universal Design to foster aging in place.

For the record, I do believe that Perimeter Center is the economic engine that drives the entire city, I consider myself pro-smart growth development and want to see a thriving area filled with offices, hotels, convention centers, retail and residential of various types but I also want to see parks, playgrounds, libraries, green space, and proper restaurants to serve their needs as well as schools, roads and transportation infrastructure that can handle the increased residential capacity.  I need to balance the growth of the business center against the impacts that this type of development would have over the quality of life for all residents therefore I welcome your feedback on this issue.

There will be a public hearing Monday night at 6 pm at the new City Hall located at 4800 Ashford Dunwoody Rd NE, Dunwoody, GA 30338 - please join us.  This item will not be voted upon for another couple weeks in order to allow Council to have their questions answered and in order to receive community feedback therefore your participation is a vital part of the process.

If you feel strongly about this project and are unable to make the public hearing on Monday, the entire Dunwoody City Council can be reached via email at CouncilMembers@dunwoodyga.gov and to email me directly my address is John.Heneghan@dunwoodyga.gov. Thanks

9 comments:

Rose Gorham said...

The adding of 65 children to the school system from this development made me laugh out loud!! If you believe that then you need your head examined. I know that these developers get these numbers from the school system (so they say) but common sense and past trends would tell you that that number is not correct!!

Bob Fiscella said...

John,
Thanks for the post. Citizens of Dunwoody need to be aware of projects like this. I was at the DHA meeting in which the developer made its presentation. It all sounded so nice, but at the end of the day, the added traffic is a major concern. The developer stated that its studies indicate the existing roads can handle the additional vehicles. He added that the additional traffic would not cause Ashford Dunwoody traffic signals to be downgraded to the fail category. I have no idea what constitutes a failed traffic light, but I will tell you during evening rush hour, in my humble opinion, every traffic light going southbound is failing. Try to make it from city hall to 285 in under 20 minutes at 5:30 in the evening. Good luck with that!

Joe Seconder said...

We have around 100,000 people coming into the Perimeter business district each day. The VAST majority of them sit alone in a privately owned metal box on wheels driving machine clogging up our public rights of way, paying for only 50% of the cost of building & maintaining those roads.

This is a great step towards moving away from that insanity, and reducing traffic. Need to start charging for employee parking, charging these private vehicles per mile driven on our public roads, charging them for creating this congestion (“Oh, I’m not the reason for traffic - EVERYONE ELSE IS!”) and charging for single occupancy drivers.

Want to know how to quickly & efficiently move a single person a mile or two into or out of the Perimeter area? The LAST OPTION is in a privately-owned driving machine.

https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2017/11/2/the-negative-consequences-of-car-dependency

Bob Fiscella said...

Hey Joe,
You say "his is a great step towards moving away from that insanity." What is your suggestion? I think I may be missing something.
Thanks

Max said...

John,

I like the fact you are 'pro-smart growth' and recognize that Perimeter is the economic engine for Dunwoody. Your anecdote regarding your parents' personal situation is fitting as well.

One point to consider regarding this project is that the traffic patterns will be less predictable than say a standalone 19 story office or 1,200 residential units. The office tower commands a 7-9AM and a 4-6PM rush. I have heard DeKalb uses ten trips per household for traffic calming.

PCID spent a lot of money on synchronizing signals Ashford Dunwoody Road and it works pretty well, except at the busiest times, as previously noted. As well, we both know that traffic is not a a legitimate legal reason to deny development.

I think that the load on the schools is unbeleiveably understated, as well.

Developers ask for the maximum knowing their plan may be scaled back.

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Katie H said...

I have to make two separate posts due to the length and divide my opinion into two:) Part 1:
My father has run is business out of one of the buildings that is in Grubb Properties proposal to tear down. He chose this location 20 years ago for the benefit of his employees to have access to a great location, greenery, walkable etc. He lives in the suburbs but makes the commute everyday for them to have the best middle ground as they all come from different areas. Over the 20 years to which he still retains most of the same employees a good portion of them have all adjusted their locations of residency as to be closer to work. Most live in houses. For the first 10 years traffic wasnt as horrendous as it is now. I ask you to consider many perspectives as I know you already are; thankfully! A couple being: the loyal long term tenants in the buildings they are proposing to tear down, business owners that have invested in Dunwoody and brought money to this city like my fathers company. He’s a Georgia native and true to the parts of Atlanta he still enjoys and can still handle in general & traffic wise. Atlanta as we all know was not built for this many people.
*What’s important is to stay true to our Southern roots, hospitality, be a desirable area, maintain what little beauty the metro and just outside the metro area has left, especially around the Perimeter Mall location. Perimeter Center East is already over saturated with apartments!*
I’ve worked and lived in Dunwoody for years. I will be leaving Dunwoody if this project is approved! I only live in Dunwoody to be near my father now. I really enjoyed the area previously but not as much now. The traffic has gotten out of control and it’s not peaceful. It’s cars, honking horns & construction all day. I can tell you first hand as I live in an apartment off Perimeter Center North. It’s all about $$$! Of course Grubb wants to do this.I work in Propery Management. They see prime real estate. Space, trees, people walking their dogs and to get lunch without worrying if they will get hit by a car. They see peaceful little areas, vacant spaces not being packed in with row after row of bricks & an area not completely congested with some greenery across from the best mall in Atlanta! It’s a goldmine to them! They don’t care, they don’t work or live here! They see space & $$$ will build, manage for a couple years then in 5-10 years we will be the ones left to deal with the mess! They will have sold out left and moved on. That’s the nature of the business unfortunately. No ill intent towards Grubb by the way.
I’m a Georgia native as well and people wonder why there are so few of us left. It’s not a win for the state or city I can promise you that! If there are a few buildings that are super outdated then invest in remodeling them! Add a couple of retail shops and restaurants no problem. How about another gas station? The Exxon is always slammed and profitable.Should changes be made to this area, sure little ones here and there but this proposal is overzealous to say the least.I really dislike America’s tear it down if it looks old and throw up a new one with less space,less character and jack the prices up.

Katie H said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katie H said...

Atlanta is a hotspot for developers right now. We have to be super cautious & conscientious. There’s plenty of new construction and growth off Hammond drive. When presentations are made like this Propery Management/Real Estate firms have this presentation down pat. It’s their job! Initial concerns come up & they say what you want to hear knowing exactly what to say as the same questions come up over and over in major cities everywhere. Every excuse in the book is used to win council members over with the “we intend to build these complexes and gear towards young professionals to live there”. Guess what?? They can’t afford to live in what they are proposing to build! Hello? The statement of most being owner occupied is a joke. Really, they have already Pre leased and sold them? The retail space will be insanely pricey. Think about what your initial reactions and instincts are..children, rezoning schools, need I say more?
You have a chance to make a difference by not following suit on this plan. Are we trying to become a mini New York City? That’s where we are headed. Are we trying to make people want to leave Dunwoody to find that ease of luxury, parks and convience all in one place somewhere else?
Use this one tiny example for thought. State Farm moved in a few years ago which has caused amplified traffic on Ashford Dunwoody/285 & creates complete mayhem on a polite small one lane road that helps maneuver some traffic on Ashford. I ask you to think long term traffic and keeping Dunwoody a great place to live and be work. The developer made a very big mistake stating this would not impact Ashford Dunwoody road or traffic! That’s a huge joke. Do they live and drive in Dunwoody everyday? At night and in the morning? Nope! It’s already chaotic and loud, we are growing and best advice is go with your gut prior to Grubbs responses to your questions. Remember when the snow storm hit? The big one when we were all over the news for not being prepared a few years ago? State Farm didn’t plan things out very well nor take any other business or person into consideration when they let over 5000 employees leave at the same time. I was stuck on Perimeter Center East for 3 hours taking a short cut home. Nightmare! That’s just one massive building/business making that large of an impact. They want to put make this same mistake in a different way. I assume State Farm learned their lesson now but the city will have no control over the noise level apartment communities will bring, constant construction noises, traffic congestion will be unbearable and we don’t need any more!! The market is already over saturated with $2000 apartment homes.
You are doing a great job so far and I’m glad you opened the door for feedback. The developers are in this for money, to build where they see profitability, create noise and disruption. They will try and manage it for a while then sell & leave us in the dust. It’s a business and not personal. This is where the line in the sand needs to be drawn because this is personal! It’s our town/city. We look after it and protect it. We need to save the small spaces we do have left while protecting the professionals and local businesses that have kept this area alive!
I know this is a tough decision but I have faith you will do what’s best for the city and it’s residents. Thank you for all that you do.