By John Schaffner
editor@reporternewspapers.net

The Sandy Springs Planning Commission decided Jan. 17 it had not had time to sufficiently study all aspects of the rezoning requests made by Ackerman & Company for the continued redevelopment of the Corporate Campus property at the corner of Hammond Drive and Peachtree Dunwoody Road.

The commission sent the rezoning requests to City Council requesting that council defer action on the requests and remand it back to the Planning Commission for further consideration at its March meeting.

The applicant, Corporate Campus LLC, is seeking to rezone the property from MIX conditional to MIX for the development of 753,000 square feet of commercial and office space, a 160-room hotel and 400 residential units, with variances and a user permit to exceed the maximum district height on one of the buildings.

The commission voiced concerns about several aspects of the rezoning requests, including the height of the mixed-use condo tower, which was explained as 30 stories above a six-story parking deck, for a total of 36 stories.

Attorney Pete Hendricks, representing the applicant, explained that the developer plans have the façade of the parking deck skinned either with a decorative panel or storefronts.

The developer, Ackerman & Company, plans to demolish four of the present buildings on the site this summer to make way for the new construction. Plans are to partner with a hotel developer and a condo developer for those parts of the new project and to begin construction about the beginning of 2009.

Plans call for about 20 percent of the 753,000 square feet to be retail space.

The developer is seeking some flexibility on the type of retail they will be able to have on the site, but plan to have no drive-throughs visible from Hammond Drive or Peachtree-Dunwoody Road.

Commission member Lee Duncan wanted to know how much of the site Ackerman will control considering the proposed partnering on the project.

It was pointed out that a traffic study is underway concerning the intersection of Hammond Drive and Peachtree Dunwoody Road and their approaches to the property which may be completed within 30-60 days and may result in changes in access to the site.

Considering the potential for those changes, Duncan proposed the commission ask council to defer any action on the rezoning requests and remand the case back to the commission for further consideration at its March meeting. That motion passed, but not until the commission also gave the applicant a sense of how it would vote on the seven variances it has requested.

The commission suggested it would deny the request to delete the required 20-foot landscape strip along Peachtree Dunwoody Road; would require 20 percent of the property be open space, with 15 percent being green space; would limit the developer to one full road access on Hammond Drive and Peachtree-Dunwoody Road with monument signage; wants the developer to define the number of internal directional signs that would be put in place; would allow certain requested wall signs for tenants; but would deny projecting wall signage for tenants in the same buildings.

Commission member Wayne Thatcher expressed his fear that by allowing the 30-story building to be developed on top of a six-story parking deck, the commission would be opening up the possibility of a 40-story building eventually being developed on the corner of Hammond Drive and Peachtree-Dunwoody Road.

No one spoke in opposition to the rezoning application.