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.


Rose Gorham said...

What school would these be zoned for?

A concerned Citizen said...

Does their development budget account for single or double-wide classroom trailers for our already overcrowded schools?

Busymom said...

You mentioned that school impact was discussed in your meeting with these developers. My understanding is that virtually all of the Perimeter area is zoned for Austin Elementary. Clearly, no one school would be able to handle the impact of this development alone, unless a separate school was built to accommodate it. I suspect that plans for Austin's rebuild don't include significant student population growth in the Perimeter area, zoned mainly O&I, and certainly not the magnitude that this project would allow. I know it is extremely early in the process, but this is the critical time to take the crucial steps necessary to plan for the inevitable student population growth that will happen as a result of this project. The impact of this project will be huge in so many ways. I'm glad they're willing to donate the right-of-way for the Westside Connector, as that is a "biggie". Just as much of a "biggie" should be the school impact of this development. What level of commitment to addressing their impact on our schools have they made? I look forward to regular updates about how this concern is being addressed.

warren gray said...

That is dunwoody elementary

themommy said...


You are incorrect. Most of Perimeter is not zoned to Austin. Currently, there is only 1/2 of an apartment complex zoned to Austin.

All the other schools are overcrowded though. Dunwoody Elementary or Vanderlyn would not be well equipped to absorb new students. Neither is PCMS or DHS.

Max said...

The school related questions are important and at the same time, sadly, not typically a part of ANY development discussion. Right now, I see only one way to change this unfortunate FACT. A local Dunwoody School system.

Support the Georgia Local School Bill. If you are not aware of our own House Rep. Tom Taylor's valiant, up hill effort to make a statewide Constitutional change allowing a Dunwoody, and any other Georgia city, school district, find out more here:

This development is tremendous on so many levels.

First, Charlie Brown is one of the premier developer's in the Country, and he is from Atlanta. His projects are winners, built right, tenanted, and maintained well.

Second, the High Street project will be the trifecta in this massive new area of development. I predict that in ten years, Dunwoody will see much more residential infill, redevelopment, and growth.

We cannot screech and whine our way out of this; instead, we must address these facts with sound resident-centric public policy AND civil, responsible citizen input. We have great leadership and must continue to ensure newly elected officials are 'team players,' 'cause things are about to get real.

The fact that John was sought out prior to the Biz Chronicle press release speaks volumes to how well respected Dunwoody's policy of prior approval is seen in development circles. Our City Council, DHA, and City staff make a great team!

Rose Gorham said...

While I agree a Dunwoody School System is great and I do support it. Even if we had it we would STILL have all of these extra children going into already OVERCROWDED schools. Having a Dunwoody School system does not fix the problem of overdevelopment and more and more kids coming into our schools.

Developers unfortunately don't care about overcrowding of schools when looking to develop new housing. They come to city council meetings with very questionable figures about how many children a new development will generate in terms of more school children. A recent example was when the developer of the new Georgetown Townhomes came to to a city council meeting and stood up and with a straight face told the council that 'possibly 5 children would come out of a 80 townhome development'. And the council (with the exception of Lyn) brought it!!! It was laughable. Developers quote their figures as coming from the Dekalb County School system which is probably right. They can be as clueless as clueless is. Perhaps in quoting more accurate figures a local school system would better serve the community.

Council is not too concerned about school overcrowding either as they continue to approve developments that bring extra children into our already overcrowded schools. Great leadership? That is debatable in my book!!

Max said...

Rose, did you notice the article describing how a deep pocket developer is suing Sandy Springs because the City denied a lawful use for re-development?

The conundrum you describe is very true, except for the last sentence: "Council is not too concerned about school overcrowding either as they continue to approve developments that bring extra children into our already overcrowded schools."

I don't want to come across as all preachy or 'know-it-all-y,' yet, you must make your points from a position of fact.

WE should all agree that rampant over development should be reigned in and that school over-crowding is bad. Having local control of our schools COULD lead to systemic changes that would counterbalance development (property rights) with infrastructure overload. (Traffic and school capacity.)

Property owners have rights and those rights cannot be dissolved arbitrarily by any governing authority or an unwinnable lawsuit will emerge. Our City Council wisely recognizes this FACT, and has ruled accordingly, for the most part.