The Dunwoody Planning Commission unanimously voted Nov. 14 to defer a rezoning request to redevelop the current City Hall site into a mixed-use complex.
The project would bring around 1,200 residential units, retail and 500,000 square feet of office space to the 19.5-acre Perimeter Center East office complex.
The commission was overall in support of the project, but would like the developer to further discuss some city planning staff recommended conditions, including one that would require the developer to build a road through a proposed park that would be open to the public. Commissioners were also concerned about potential additional students the development would bring.
The developer has asked for a rezoning to PC-2, which would allow the mixed-use development, and three special land use permits, including to build a development of regional impact and to allow buildings to be closer to the road.
The commission ultimately decided to defer a decision on the property to allow the developer and the city planning staff to resolve disagreements. Chairman Bob Dallas said at the end of the
meeting that if those problems are resolved, the commissioners will likely recommend approval.
The current site, which is owned by developer Grubb Properties, has three mid-rise office buildings, one of which serves as City Hall. The property is located off Ashford-Dunwoody Road near the Ravinia complex.
In 2016, Dunwoody purchased a property at 4800 Ashford-Dunwoody Road to serve as the new City Hall. It is expected to open in early 2018.
The company plans to keep the six-story building now housing City Hall and a five-story office building next to it as office buildings with retail spaces on the ground floor. The company plans to demolish the other six-story office building, near I-285, to make room for two 14-story residential towers and a new office tower. Seventy-five percent of the residential units are planned to be owner-occupied and the remaining 25 percent be rental units.
The development would be built in three phases over 10 years.
The main issue the commission wants the city and developer to come to an agreement on is the city’s condition that the developer build a road through a proposed public park in the development.
The developers plan to build a large park at the center of the development, and they don’t want any of the land for the park to lost to a road.
“Frankly, it really would decimate the centerpiece of the property,” said Clay Grubb, the owner of Grubb Properties.
The city proposed this as a condition because it would create a full access intersection, make it easier to access the property and possibly reduce traffic congestion. A traffic study has found the development would bring over 10,000 new car trips to the area.
Grubb also said his company tries to emphasize using public transit and make driving less convenient. The confusing nature of the complex and the inconvenience of entering and exiting may make it more likely people take transit it instead, he said.
The commissioners also asked city staff to add stronger language to a condition that the developer continue a shuttle to MARTA station it currently runs. Commissioner Thomas O’Brien said he wants stronger language to ensure the service does not end.
Grubb said they are committed to making the development accessible to pedestrians and transit and bicycle commuters.
Commissioner Paul Player said the developer should work to ensure the development does not overcrowd schools. A study has found the development is projected to bring 65 new students to the area, and Player said the developer has a responsibility not to overcrowd schools or to pay for necessary school improvements to accommodate them.
The president of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association, Robert Wittenstein, spoke during public comment and also said the developer should take steps to mitigate this, including limiting the number of three bedroom units. Wittenstein said he was speaking for himself and not on behalf of the DHA.
Grubb said he “does not want to burden the school system” and said they would consider not building any three bedroom units in the first phase.
Chairman Bob Dallas said he was overall in support of the project, including the developer’s vision for connectivity and a less a car-oriented complex. Dallas hinted the development will likely be approved at the next meeting if the issues are addressed with city staff.
“My only hope is that it actually gets built,” Dallas said. “If these issues are addressed with the staff, I think our next meeting will be relatively short,” he said.
The developers will go before the commission again in December, pushing the City Council date back to January.