Hunter Richardson

Construction of an upscale, mixed-use shopping center in Buckhead Village could begin as early as April and it could open in 2013, its developers say.

On Sept. 29, San Diego, California-based OliverMcMillan held a series of small meetings with members of the local media at the Capital Grille to elaborate on its vision for the Buckhead Atlanta project that will be located at Peachtree and East Paces Ferry Road.

The project was renamed and re-imagined after the proposed Streets of Buckhead development came to a grinding halt in 2010. Investors forced original developer Ben Carter out of the project.

OliverMcMillan President Paul Buss, Development Director Hunter Richardson and Douglas Hoerr with Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects answered questions during the Sept. 29 presentations. OliverMcMillan is beginning the permitting process to get the $600 million project off the ground, a smaller version of the $1.5 billion project Carter planned.

Buss said taking over the development has been a multi-layered process that involved renegotiating agreements with tenants and redesigning the architecture.

“We only closed on this property four months ago,” Buss said. “That’s breakneck speed when you get down to it.”

Hoerr, the architect, described Buckhead Atlanta as a place where shoppers stop to admire their surroundings as they move between high-end stores. The development will include luxury apartments, which OliverMcMillan thinks is a stronger real estate market.

Artist rendering of ‘Buckhead Atlanta,’ a pedestrian-friendly shopping experience, scheduled to get under way in 2012.

“This picture says it all,” Hoerr said, pointing to a concept design for the project depicting happy shoppers. “People lingering, shopping. We want a very pedestrian, comfortable experience.”

Buss and Richardson suggested improving traffic flow by diverting traffic along Pharr Road, with Richardson saying the road is an “under-utilized” traffic conduit. Buss also said the lights along Peachtree need to be synchronized.

Buckhead Community Improvement District (CID) Capital Projects Manager Brian McHugh said the CID and OliverMcMillan share the same goals.

“You’ve got to make traffic move better,” McHugh said. “I think Hunter Richardson has been clear that his view is to make the area more pedestrian-friendly and we share that. However we can make the road better will help pedestrians. We’re not working to move cars faster. We’re working to make them move more efficiently.”