By Amy Wenk

After years of sitting vacant, plans were introduced Sept. 22 to develop the lot at the corner of Roswell Road and Hammond Drive.

The just under two-acre property is proposed to be a mixed-use project called City Walk Towers with 273 one- and two-bedroom apartments and 6,409 leasable square feet of retail and/or restaurant space. The eight-story building will sit across the street from Dunkin Donuts and wrap in an L-shape around Burger King and Big 10 Tires off Hammond Drive.

“It is an absolute central location to our business district,” Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos said. “So yes, of course, having development take place there is desirable. We just want to make sure it’s good development.”

That process has already taken years. The site, which once housed a lumber company and gas station, was zoned by Fulton County prior to Sandy Springs’ incorporation. In Jan. 2005, the county issued a land disturbance permit for the construction of 309 multifamily units and 15,000 square feet of retail. But the property has been under litigation since the city incorporated later that year.

“It was stopped in its tracks because there was not a turn lane on Roswell to get into the parking garage of this complex,” Galambos said. “As a result of that delay, it ended up in court.”

The revised development plan introduced Sept. 22 accommodates the addition of a right turn lane to Hammond Drive on Roswell Road, a future project of the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The ground level will house retail and restaurant space that affronts Roswell Road, as well as more than 4,000 square feet of amenities including a pool. Parking for the retail will be accommodated in a covered parking area behind that space.

Parking for the residential units will be located in a multi-level parking deck with 416 spaces along the westernmost property line with access to and from Sandy Springs Drive.

“We are in favor of this” development, said resident Howard Austin who lives in City Walk Heights, the townhouse development near the proposed project. “It would be nice to have high-quality residential units in Sandy Springs.”

But “they have got to make the parking garage kind of disappear,” Austin said.

Patty Berkowitz with the Watershed Alliance of Sandy Springs and the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods feels the proposal is too intense for the site. “It’s way too much for the size of the land.”

There is also concern about parking for the retail space at the ground level. The proposal allots only 27 spaces for that space. Berkovitz suggests the nine residential units from the ground floor be replaced with additional parking.

The financial backer of City Walk Towers is Pacific Life Insurance. The architect is Texas-based Wallace Garcia Wilson, and the apartment manager is The Hanover Company, also of Texas.

The application still has a long process in front of it. The developer is asking for a special use permit to permit an increase in the height limitation from six to nine floors. The applicant also seeks seven variances.

It will go before the Design Review Board Oct. 13 since it is located in an overlay district and must adhere to design standards. Other reviews will follow, with final approval tentatively scheduled for Dec. 15.