MARTA on Sept. 3 named the developers for its transit-oriented redevelopments at the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe and Chamblee stations. Construction at Brookhaven is slated to start in summer 2017.
The Brookhaven station project would include housing, restaurants, green spaces—and maybe even a grocery store and a new City Hall, a member of the development team said.
Brookhaven City Center Partners was selected as the developer for the Brookhaven station area at Peachtree Road and Dresden Drive.
The mixed-use project would begin with 330 apartments, more than 25,000 square feet of retail space and 117,000 square feet of office space, according to a MARTA press release. Future phases could include around 400 more residential units of senior housing and condos along with civic spaces and a hotel.
“It’s intended to be a completion of the fabric of what’s going on in Brookhaven,” said Trent Germano, a senior managing director at Transwestern Development Company, which its teaming with Integral as the Brookhaven City Center Partners. Integral is also on a separate team undertaking the massive redevelopment of the former GM plant farther up the MARTA train’s Gold Line in Doraville.
“It’s also about place-making, and we’re very cognizant of that,” Germano said. “The idea is to make it everybody’s space.”
The exact mix and types of uses, as well as construction timing, will depend on the market, Germano said. But the overall concept sticks to a 2006 Livable Centers Initiative redevelopment plan for the area. “The plan envisions a high-quality, dynamic, mixed-use center that will become a village center and focal point for the Brookhaven community,” that document said.
Germano said the developers used the LCI plan as a basis for their own. It includes mid-rise mixed-use buildings, an affordable housing component and public green spaces to allow for walking straight through the site between Peachtree and Apple Valley Road. The plan would reduce the size of the station’s parking lot, replacing 560 existing parking spaces and totally eliminating 900 spaces, according to MARTA.
“The whole station area becomes much more inviting, much more pedestrian-friendly,” Germano said.
Local resident Michael Elliot said that sticking to the LCI plan’s standards is important. “The purpose of that was to make sure the [station property] and the area surrounding it along Peachtree and Dresden had some design focus with broad community support,” Elliot said. “It’s not meant to be a high-rise site. This is not Buckhead.
“The Brookhaven MARTA property’s always been considered to be the center of Brookhaven, and the development there hopefully will reinforce the importance of the property as a city center,” Elliot said.
Germano said the current plans envision a total of 750 housing units, of which 100 would be condominiums and 126 would be affordable housing for seniors making up to 80 percent of area median income. The rest would be rental apartments.
Restaurants would occupy 20,000 to 25,000 square feet of ground-floor spaces, and there could be up to 40,000 square feet of retail, depending on whether a grocery store can be brought in as an anchor.
“We’d love to have one of the [grocery] brands right in the middle of the project,” Germano said.
A 150-room hotel is also possible, but if the initial office space rents well, the developers may opt to build more office space instead.
The developers are also reserving a “place-holder” space for a possible new Brookhaven City Hall, if the city is interested. Formed in 2013, the city is renting its current City Hall space and has a feasibility study for a permanent location underway.
“There’s been a lot of conversation about a future City Hall,” Germano said. “We thought that would be a wonderful thing to have.”
A primary goal of transit-oriented development is to reduce residents’ car usage. But the new development would create more traffic on an area with some narrow streets, including Dresden and North Druid Hills Road, said Ashford Park resident Griff Sims.
He said the initial office-heavy mix would reduce the effects of traffic, but he warned that density should be restricted below the maximum.
“If done on a human scale of moderate density, it could be something special,” Sims said in an email. “If done to maximize tax digest, we’ll miss the target.”
Germano acknowledged that traffic is a challenge and said that, while the developers have some ideas, they have not conducted a traffic study.
“We’re going to have to work closely with the city and DeKalb County and MARTA to work through the traffic problems. We just don’t have the answer,” he said.
MARTA spokesperson Saba Long said that there will be a “community engagement plan” about the redevelopment “to ensure community input and buy-in.” The station should remain open during any construction, according to Long and Germano, and some parking will remain available, as well.
The Chamblee Station project, in downtown Chamblee, is slated to start next summer and could include retail and office space, along with a park. Trackside Partners, a team of Pattillo Industrial Real Estate and Parkside Partners LLC has been selected as developer for that project.