Tires, mattresses and other material could soon be headed to a new recycling center behind Lenox Square mall intended as a second location of a popular southeast Atlanta facility.

The first Center for Hard to Recycle Materials, or CHaRM, opened at 1110 Hill St. in 2015, an inconvenient location for Buckhead residents to get to, District 7 Councilmember Howard Shook said. A Lenox Square CHaRM could come sometime this year.

The possible location for the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials facility on Lenox Parkway is shown in red. Lenox Square mall is at the top; Ga. 400 is at the left; and the Lenox Square MARTA Station is at far right. (Google Earth)

The operator of CHaRM, Live Thrive Atlanta, has been working for many years to build a new location in north Atlanta, Shook said. Simon Properties has offered to allow Live Thrive to build the facility on an unused lot at Lenox Square, he said.

The facility would be built on a half-acre lot at the back of the mall, on the south edge where Simon’s property meets PATH400, said Peggy Whitlow Ratcliffe, the executive director of Live Thrive Atlanta. It would be on the lot at the intersection of Lenox Parkway and East Paces Ferry Road. The lot is bordered by PATH400 near the Bynum Bridge, Ga. 400 and the Lenox MARTA Station.

The lot has been used to store construction materials for the last few years, Ratfcliffe said.

“It should be an enhancement. People walking or biking on PATH400 would be able to bring and drop off their recycling,” she said.

Live Thrive also plans to build a community garden on the lot, she said.

The CHaRM facility and a separate retail building would fill the two vacant lots on the back on Lenox Square.

“BUCKHEAD REdeFINED,” a master plan that was completed last year, recommends activating streets by filling unused lots with retail, pedestrian networks, transit and shipping containers. A developer has proposed a shipping container retail building on a vacant lot across East Paces Ferry Road from the potential CHaRM lot.

The Center for Hard to Recycle Materials, or ChaRM, at 1110 Hill St. in 2016 as seen on Google Maps.

The existing center has since “been hugely successful,” diverting over 7,500 tons of materials from landfills, Ratcliffe said. It takes many items for free and some for a small fee, including mattresses, tires and paint. Free items include glass, metal, Styrofoam and batteries.

“Given strong response, community members have long been advocating for a second location in the northern half of city to offer residents another convenient option for drop off,” Ratcliffe said in a statement.

The city’s original plan when the first facility opened was to have one CHaRM facility for each side of the city, but space is sparse in Buckhead, Shook said.

“It’s a little difficult to find accommodation in Buckhead for something like that,” he said.

NPU-B will vote on the proposal at its June 5 meeting. The city’s zoning review board will discuss the proposal at its June 7 or 14 meeting before it heads back to the city council.

The current location in southeast Atlanta is difficult for Buckhead residents to visit frequently, Shook said. The aim is for the new facility to encourage recycling.

“We’re definitely going to encourage recycling by having Buckhead people be able to drive a mile as opposed to southeast Atlanta,” he said.

Shook has introduced City Council legislation that would allow such a facility in the special public interest district Lenox Square is located in, SPI-12. A public interest district provides special protections for a certain area and developments are subject to more review.

Atlanta City Councilmember Howard Shook.

The legislation is tailored to only allow the facility on a parcel having over 1 million square feet of retail, or as Shook said, a “convoluted” way to authorize the facility at only Lenox Square.

“It’s wordsmithed so that such a facility fits that spot and nowhere else,” he said.

“There is a need substantially related to the public health, safety and welfare to provide a location elsewhere in the city where residents can more conveniently drop-off household hazardous waste, bulky trash and other hard to recycle items; thereby encouraging reuse and diverting these items from area landfills and water systems,” the legislation says.

Simon Properties, which declined comment, has control over what the facility would look like. Shook said the requirements would be strict and that the facility should be blocked from view.

The NPU-B zoning committee reviewed the legislation its April meeting. Nancy Bliwise, the NPU chair, said the response was generally favorable, but people had some questions about noise and where it would be located.

“There was definitely some discussion about appearance and sight lines,” she said. “More questions than objections.”
Sally Silver, Shook’s policy advisor, said people shouldn’t be concerned about noise since it would be built next to Ga. 400.

“If Simon’s controlling, which they are, it’s going to meet standards probably above anyone else’s,” she said. “You won’t be able to see it, you won’t be able to hear it and it’s not in any neighborhoods.”

Shook said he doesn’t expect strong opposition to the proposal.

“If we’re making it more convenient for people, I can’t imagine it’s going to run into any problems, given that the property owner is embracing it,” Shook said.

The current facility is on a .75-acre lot and is lined with drop-off stations for the various materials. In 2017, the facility collected 327,019 gallons of paint, 18,270 tires, 323,745 pounds of electronic items and 2,004 mattresses.

For more information about CHaRM, visit livethrive.org.

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