By John Schaffner
After four months of intense but friendly negotiations, Frank “Ski” Rodriguez won the blessings of the Peachtree Park neighborhood and Neighborhood Planning Unit B (NPU-B) for the liquor license that would allow him to open Kolor — an upscale restaurant entertainment venue in Buckhead — late this year or early in 2010.
Kolor, a 15,000-square-foot multifunction facility that will occasionally include live entertainment, is planned for space below and behind the new Orvis store in the Buckhead Square shopping center, 3275 Peachtree Road, and would have a front door facing a large parking area and the backyards of Peachtree Park homes.
Peachtree Park, which has dealt with a number of restaurant and club requests in the past, Rodriguez and center owner/representative Scott Selig worked out a formalized “code of conduct” that resulted in the NPU-B Public Safety Committee and full board reversing a Jan. 6 vote to deny the license.
The neighborhood never had a personal problem with Rodriguez, a popular local radio personality, who had suggested early on that the code of conduct be adopted as part of the liquor license and be presented to the City Council to be applied to future liquor license applications.
But when Rodriguez and the Peachtree Park representatives came before the NPU in January, the code had not been agreed upon by the neighborhood, Rodriguez and landlord Selig Enterprises. The NPU board, which rejected the application Jan. 6 on a vote of 12-6 with four abstentions, urged Rodriguez and Selig to return for reconsideration after the parties completed the code of conduct and before the application went before the city’s Liquor Review Board (LRB).
After hearing from the neighborhood and Rodriguez on May 5, the NPU unanimously approved the liquor license application.
Eric Forest, the president of the Peachtree Park Association, said, “We have worked extensively and intensely with Frank and the other representatives with Kolor, and we believe we have worked out a very good, neighbor-friendly agreement that we feel will be a good blueprint for future negotiations with any other business that wants to come in adjacent to us or can serve as a model for other neighborhoods.”
He told the NPU board the neighborhood no longer opposes the liquor license. “We ask that the code of conduct agreement be submitted with the summary to the LRB.”
Asked to explain the highlights of the agreement, Forest said a lot of it has to do with parking. “They have a lot of parking, and some of it comes up to the fence line that backs up to our neighborhood.”
Kolor will have all valet parking, he said, “so one of the things we asked was to valet as close to the business and away from the edge of the neighborhood.”
One of the biggest victories for the neighborhood was to get agreement from Selig that the code of conduct will stay with the leasing of the property. If Kolor should move out, any new tenant would have to conform to the points of the agreement.
Other points of the code of conduct include:
• Security issues such as training of employees, access to management (cellphone numbers and a promise that management will be there in case of noise) and keeping customers from parking in the neighborhood.
• Quarterly meetings with management in case the neighborhood has any concerns.
• Noise control at the facility and in the parking lot.
• Lining up inside the facility the first 100 people waiting for their cars from the valet.
• Contacting the neighborhood if a larger-than-normal event is scheduled.
• Getting neighborhood approval for any change in agent or change in management.
“That was an important part of the agreement, to make sure that if I left, the next person would have to abide by the set of rules,” Rodriguez told the NPU board.
Another key element is that any dispute between the parties that cannot be worked out will go to an outside arbiter for a solution.
The board was given a copy of the code of conduct signed by Rodriguez, Selig and the neighborhood representative.
Selig, who was not at the May 5 NPU meeting, is not only the developer of the center where Kolor will be, but also a resident of Peachtree Park whose home backs up to Kolor’s future parking lot.
Asked when he thought Kolor would open, Rodriguez said that, considering the economy, he believes it will be the end of this year or the beginning of 2010.
Other alcoholic beverage license requests approved by both the Public Safety Committee and the full NPU board May 5 were:
• An application for a new restaurant, Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar, at 3535 Peachtree Road in the Publix shopping center, which is expected to open in July or August.
• F&C Buckhead, the duo planning to open a nightclub at 2416 Piedmont Road (the former Gold Club site), who returned to the NPU because they needed a second liquor license for a separate upstairs bar in the facility.