Several Buford Highway apartment complexes and the single-family houses along Brookhaven’s Bramblewood Drive were among the sites considered by the DeKalb County School District for the new Cross Keys High School, according to an appraisal document obtained through an open records request.
The school board voted April 16 to build the new Cross Keys High at the former Briarcliff High site, located at 2415 North Druid Hills Road in DeKalb County, despite objections from the three board members closest to the area. The current Cross Keys High is located at 1626 North Druid Hills Road and is set to become a middle school.
The three board members said the Briarcliff site would be inaccessible for many on Buford Highway due to the traffic and farther from students. The school district said the other potential sites would have been too expensive to purchase and would displace hundreds of students from their homes.
The apartment complexes appraised by the district were Esquire, Brookstone Crossing, Regency Woods, Epic Gardens, Northeast Plaza Apartments and Terraces at Brookhaven. The map of potential sites shows other locations that were not appraised, including Park Towne North apartments and properties on Gail Drive near Woodward Elementary school.
The former Briarcliffe High site, which would be sold by the district if it had decided to buy a different property, was appraised at $21 million. The Adams Stadium and parking are not included in that appraisal.
Purchasing a new site would have been more expensive, costing $19 million to $38 million more than using the Briarcliff site, according to the DeKalb Schools document. Purchase costs for the candidate sites ranged from $36 million to $53.5 million.
The sites were grouped into several different plans that included combinations of apartment complexes and the 32 single-family residences on Bramblewood Drive, a street that is adjacent to the current Cross Keys school and intersects with Buford Highway.
Variations of the “Marquis Crossing” plan included different combinations of Brookstone Crossing, Esquire, Regency Woods and the Bramblewood Drive houses. The Marquis Crossing name is apparent reference to a former name of one the apartment complexes.
The plan that grouped Esquire, Brookstone Crossing and Regency Woods apartments, which included about 400 units and would have displaced 523 students, was appraised for $45 million, including relocation costs.
The two plans that included Bramblewood Drive properties would have displaced 265 or 400 students. They were appraised for $45 or $53.5 million, including relocation costs.
The single-family properties on Bramblewood Drive were the only ones appraised by two different appraisers. With right-of-way costs, the properties were appraised at $22 million to $22.3 million.
All three “Marquis Crossing” plans noted that, due to an unwilling seller, the district could have needed to take the property by eminent domain.
Another plan, called “Epic Gardens,” included Epic Gardens, Northeast Plaza Apartments and Terraces at Brookhaven, which includes 456 units and would have displaced 391 students. The properties were appraised at $50 million.
A variation of the plan that excluded Epic Gardens would have included 321 units and displaced 344 students. That plan was appraised at $36 million.