The July 24 fatal shooting of 23-year-old Takeenen Williams of Sandy Springs at the Hub, a housing complex for Art Institute of Atlanta students in Sandy Springs, follows controversy over the nature of the facility.
Nearby residents have said it’s a menace, that the tenants are disruptive and have brought crime to the immediate area. The city of Sandy Springs says it violates zoning ordinances by operating as a dorm, not as an extended-stay hotel that the 6096 Barfield Road is zoned for. The city’s Board of Appeals upheld the staff declaration in April.
“The students living at the facility have been extremely loud,” Sam Mickelson, a building owner at nearby Perimeter Ridge, told the zoning board in April. He said the students frequently come into Perimeter Ridge’s parking lot. He said one of his tenants has already moved out as a result and another is refusing to sign a new lease.
Mike Ellison, representing the Homeowners Association of Westbury Square, which is adjacent to the Hub, told the board that “it’s very loud all the time” and “we have dumpster fires when we’re trying to go to bed at night, 20 police cars with their lights on . . . We have constant trespassing because they’re a gated community, they don’t let their tenants’ friends in so they come park over in our parking lot, climb fences, hang out in our pool house.”
Ruth Coan, board chairwoman, said shortly before the board’s vote, “In my mind this is functioning as a dormitory, not as a hotel.”
Community Development Director Angela Parker told the board that the hotel zoning ordinance for extended-stay facilities limits stays to fewer than 30 days, while a lawyer for the Hub, William Galloway, stated that the students’ average length of stay was four to six months. Parker said city staff members had posed undercover trying to rent rooms, and were informed that the facility is an Art Institute dorm.
However, Hub representatives maintain that the property rents available rooms to the public, has a website that promotes it as a hotel, and has installed a “No Vacancy/Vacancy” sign with a posted reservations phone number.
The Hub has reportedly filed a court appeal of the case.
On July 25, Sandy Springs police obtained a murder warrant for 21-year-old Patricko Mondrez Davis of Atlanta in connection to the July 24 shooting. According to police, Davis is believed to have shot Williams following a dispute. Davis is a student at the Art Institute of Atlanta, but is not listed as a resident of the Hub.