The Brookhaven City Council voted 3-1 at its July 24 meeting to use eminent domain for three separate tracts of land needed for the planned Peachtree Creek Greenway linear park.
The city is going after property at 1824 Corporate Blvd. that has been appraised by the city at $235,000; a temporary construction easement at the rear of 9 Corporate Blvd. appraised at $27,489; and a permanent easement behind the Villas at Druid Hills apartments at 3183 and 3247 Buford Highway appraised at slightly more than $1.2 million, bringing the total to nearly $1.5 million.
Councilmember Bates Mattison was the lone “no” vote.
The Buford Highway property is at the Villas at Druid Hills apartments owned by Sabra Property Management. The other pieces of property are located near office buildings in Corporate Square. The property owners did not respond to requests to buy the land from the city, leading the city to use eminent domain, according to the resolutions authorizing the use of eminent domain.
Land along the creek is primarily commercial, accounting for 35 parcels. Multi-family housing includes five parcels and apartment complexes account for eight parcels. A total of 17 single-family homes also back onto the creek along its northern and southern reaches, according to the master plan.
The city had hoped to break ground on the Greenway earlier this year but acquiring the property from landowners has proved difficult. City officials have said they hope to be able to break ground on the first phase of the Greenway between North Druid Hills Road and Briarwood Road, dubbed the “model mile,” by this fall.
The city attempted to use eminent domain to acquire 19 acres on Briarwood Road for a trailhead for the Greenway. A DeKalb judge ruled the city acted in “bad faith” and eventually the city settled with the property owner to purchase the land for approximately $2 million.
The $2 million to buy the land came from a deal between the city and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The city sold CHOA about 5 acres of right of way on Tullie Circle and Tullie Road for nearly $10 million. CHOA is using that land to close off the streets to public use as part of its massive 70-acre campus redevelopment at I-85 and North Druid Hills Road.
The City Council recently decided to build a new public safety building on the Briarwood property, behind Northeast Plaza.
At the July 24 council meeting, members also voted to pay an extra $96,189 to the PATH Foundation to make design changes to the first phase of the Greenway. Design revisions are needed for the Briarwood trailhead to accommodate the new public safety building and a new design for better traffic flow at the North Druid Hills trailhead adjacent to the Salvation Army’s southern headquarters.
The original contract to the PATH Foundation for the design of the first mile was $320,276; the current contract total is now $580,656.50. A previous change order of $164,191.50 was approved earlier this year.
The Peachtree Creek Greenway master plan outlines a series of nature trails, paved multi-purpose trails and paved promenade trails which will connect Brookhaven’s nearly 3-mile portion into the entire 12.3-mile Peachtree Creek trail project from Mercer University in unincorporated DeKalb County to the PATH400 trail in Buckhead, the South Fork Conservancy Trails and the Atlanta BeltLine. The Greenway will also provide connectivity to areas beyond as part of a larger network of multi-use trails to residences, offices, restaurants, bike rental stands, coffee shops and picnic areas.