The owner of property near Perimeter Mall where two major restaurants recently closed is proposing to “redevelop and revitalize” it into retail center with a new anchor grocery store and possibly a hotel, according to documents on file with the city of Dunwoody. Plans also include filling in a pond that is popular with migrating Canada geese to build a parking lot for new retail buildings.
The former dining hub at the intersection of Ashford-Dunwoody and Meadow Lane roads located across the street from the Walmart Supercenter once included the Brio Tuscan Grille restaurant before it closed last year after about 15 years in business. Then, in January, McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood restaurant, also open for about 15 years, closed its doors.
Branch Ashwood Associates, a division of Branch Properties, now wants to redevelop the approximate 10 acres of prime real estate in Perimeter Center to include retail buildings constructed up to the roads to engage pedestrians. A concept illustration of the site includes a small pocket park, cafes and restaurants built up to the major roads for easy pedestrian access and including outside seating.
“With two restaurants going out of business … and although P.F. Chang’s is doing fine, [the property] looks dead,” city Community Development Director Richard McLeod said of the current layout.
The city’s vision for Perimeter Center includes more pedestrian-friendly and bike-friendly developments that include buildings close to the street, McLeod added.
A message left with an attorney representing Branch Ashwood Associates was not immediately returned.
McLeod said Branch representatives approached city officials about redeveloping the site following the restaurant closures. The proposed redevelopment needs several variances and will go before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Feb. 7.
Site plans filed this month with the city include a new 25,440-square-foot anchor grocery store; a 2,800-square-foot bank building; a 5,411-square-foot convenience store and gas station; and five new retail buildings ranging in size from 8,400 square feet to 6,000 square feet. For comparison, the P.F. Chang’s building is 7,666 square feet, according to DeKalb County property tax records.
An approximate 1-acre spot on the site plan is reserved for a potential hotel, McLeod said. Branch Properties is seeking a hotel to locate on the site, but plans are unknown, he added. Branch Properties last year proposed to construct a 12-story hotel at 84 Perimeter Center East, where a vacant bank building now sits.
Branch is proposing a new street that would connect Meadow Lane Road and Ashwood Parkway. The developer also would make streetscape improvements along the entire property frontages on Ashford-Dunwoody Road and Meadow Lane Road.
Patio seating areas along Ashford-Dunwoody Road are included in the proposed streetscape plans as well as a new sidewalk and bike commuter trail. On Meadow Lane Road, a new sidewalk is proposed to replace the existing sidewalk and a new bicycle lane with a 2-foot-wide striped buffer from motor vehicle lanes.
Two of the new retail buildings would be built fronting Ashford-Dunwoody Road to engage pedestrians, according to the proposed plans. A new parking lot is proposed to be built behind these new buildings, where the pond is now. The pond is also used as water detention for the site.
The state Environmental Protection Division is reviewing plans to fill the pond and the city is awaiting to see its report, McLeod said.
City officials recommended to the property owners that something be done with the pond, such as filling it or give it better landscaping, McLeod explained. McLeod said the pond is currently unattractive in such a high-profile spot in Perimeter Center.