At its meeting Tuesday night at City Hall, the Sandy Springs City Council opted to defer to September a vote on the fate of developer Hines’ North Park 100 Village — a mixed-use development — at Abernathy Road, Peachtree Dunwoody Road and Mount Vernon Highway near Ga. 400.
“Here’s a tremendous opportunity to create a transit-oriented property. … But I’m not a believer in the theory, ‘If you build it, they will come,’” said Mayor Rusty Paul. “We have to take the next set of steps. … I want to see a legitimate transit plan, [for one].”
Tochie Blad, speaking on behalf of the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods, voiced opposition to the project.
Hines has applied for two additional new uses — 150,000 square feet of retail [space] and 500 apartment units — to be added to its already-dense zoning of hotel and office use, she said.
The Houston-based developer has also requested a height variance for 50 stories. Office space totaling 1.5 million square feet and 250 hotel units are also part of its new zoning application. The North Park 100 Village site encompasses 14.3 acres.
“The community is concerned that this project is not transit-oriented because there’s no direct pedestrian access to the [Sandy Springs] MARTA station,” said Blad. “Asking folks to cross over Peachtree Dunwoody Road will not add up to a savings of 4,000 trips per day — which is what their [research suggests].
“The other concern is zero setback from the roadway at 400. … [Their] building could be in the path of Georgia 400 collector distributor lanes.”
Colin Greene, an architect from St. Louis-based project master planner/designer HOK, disputed the aforementioned claims.
“It’s absolutely transient-oriented,” he said. “It is actually defined [as such] by all of the definitions that we as a staff have worked on.
“Buildings are closer to the street … It’s a mix of uses that actually capitalizes and leverages from a significant amount of infrastructure that’s been developed, including the MARTA station.
Regarding the notion of the relief from the buffer being zero feet, the project actually entails a combination of different distances — 15 feet as a minimum from the property line and more than 40 feet away from the curb line — basically all around the property, Green said.
But Blad said the development may not be right for the area.
“I got a lot of feedback from [residents]. … They’re very concerned about such a large project coming into an area that’s already swelling with a lot of traffic,” she said. “People are tired of the off-duty cops that let the business travelers out of their parking decks and gridlock our community. We’d really like to see a well-planned project that’s transit-oriented.”
In other business, council members also grilled Georgia Department of Transportation officials on a pair of proposed projects — notably the Interstate 285/Riverside Drive interchange roundabout currently under study and opposed to by some residents.
The design-build project — where one company handles both phases — is currently scheduled to let bids in October, with construction anticipated to start this spring. The revised configurations are tentatively set to open in spring 2016.