A city study broadly recommending the replacement of some older apartment complexes — home to nearly 1,900 households — with mixed-use projects was reviewed at a Dec. 5 meeting.
The study of the Peachtree Industrial Boulevard area includes apartment complexes that the city once controversially targeted for replacement with a sports complex. Such a use is not in the current study, but it does show those apartments replaced with single-family houses and townhomes.
More than a dozen residents gathered at City Hall to participate in a small-area study for the Peachtree Industrial Boulevard area from I-285 to Winters Chapel Road. The City Council earlier this year hired TSW, an Atlanta-based planning firm, for $40,000 to conduct the study, which is expected to wrap up in March.
“We’re doing this as part of a future visioning session,” Community Development Director Richard McLeod said in an interview. “We want to come up with an idea that we’re trying to plan for, if and when [redevelopment] happens.”
McLeod said no developers have approached the city yet about redeveloping any property in the study area.
TSW divided the area into two conceptual plans for residents to view and select what they liked and did not like on each. Much of the concept plans include adding green space, developing the area into single-family homes and townhomes, some mixed-use development and a few apartment complexes surrounding small courtyards.
Officials say the area is ripe for redevelopment and has been neglected by the city in favor of focus on Perimeter Center and Dunwoody Village.
The study area includes four older apartment complexes with racially and ethnically diverse residents. They are the Peachtree Place North with 309 units; Dunwoody Glen with 520 units; Lacota apartments with 266 units; and Dunwoody Village apartments with 794 apartments. There are 1,889 apartments in the study area.
There are also dozens of single-family homes as well as commercial land use included in the study area that borders the cities of Peachtree Corners, Doraville and Chamblee.
McLeod said TSW contacted the management companies for the apartment complexes to let them know about the meeting and study. City spokesperson Bob Mullen said city signs were also posted in the right of way near the complexes in English and Spanish.
Dunwoody’s last Comprehensive Plan, developed in 2015, sets out an outline for general future development, but says little about how to develop or redevelop along Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, hence the importance of the small area study, McLeod said.
“I want to see what they [TSW] have to offer,” McLeod said before the start of the Dec. 5 meeting. “And see if the people love it or hate it, or somewhere in-between.”
Mullen explained the study will outline guidelines to set out what members of the public want to see in the area in future and to give developers an idea of what the community wants before they move forward with any projects.
“This study will be a road map and give guidelines of what the city and residents desire for development of this area,” Mullen said.
At the Dec. 5 meeting, Councilmember Terry Nall tried to quell some fears that the city wants to redevelop the area.
“Let me make it clear,” he said, “the city is not a developer. This is the development guide plan,” Nall said. “What if someone came and said, ‘I want to buy the Lacota apartments, what does the city want?’”
“We don’t have a guide,” Nall said. “This is what the process is. All we have right now is zoning maps. … What does the city want to see go there? … The map is really a starting point, instead of a white sheet of paper.”
Redevelopment of the area has proved to be a touchy subject for some Dunwoody residents. In 2011, Dunwoody sought to buy the Dunwoody Glen and Lacota apartments, which face Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, to replace them with a sports complex. Voters rejected a parks bond to fund the plan and the apartment owners hit the city with a federal housing discrimination lawsuit that was later withdrawn.
Following that failed bond vote, the apartment complex owners fixed up the property.
No sports complex is included in any of TSW’s concept plans, but the plans show single-family homes and townhomes where the apartments are located.
Trails and paths not directly adjacent to busy roads are also part of the conceptual plans to increase connectivity throughout the city.
McLeod said no marketing plan has been conducted for the area, but that likely will come in the future. An affordable housing component for the area is “up for discussion,” McLeod said, and is an issue several people at the meeting raised.
Several residents raised concerns about the potential for more flooding in the area, if more development occurs.
“My biggest concern is flooding,” said Emily Knight. “I’m concerned that you’re going to build hard surface, that it’ll flood my property. I will fight you tooth and nail on that.”
A second community meeting will be held in February.
Those interested can view the presentation and concept plans by visiting the city’s website and clicking on the “Projects” tab at the top of the page. Then click “community development” on the left side of the page and the Peachtree Industrial Boulevard small area study is the first project listed.
–Dyana Bagby and Jason Rhode