By Ben Smith and Michaela Kron
A nearly scuttled plan to turn a dormant 19-story high rise and some surrounding buildings into a mixed-use development at North Druid Hills Road and I-85 may be back on track.
Harrick Westech LLC wants the 6-acre tract to be rezoned and DeKalb County’s land use plan changed to allow for a town center development on the site.
“We’ve gotten a lot of encouragement from a lot of people,” said Den Webb, a lawyer for Harrick Westech. “This is a good project.”
Details about the project are sketchy. Webb said the proposal has been kicking around for two years and was nearly abandoned, in part, because of a foundering economy.
If the DeKalb County Commission approves the project, the former AT&T tower building would be redeveloped into a 210-room hotel with a restaurant.
Other smaller dormant buildings would be converted into a store, offices and 423 townhouse residences.
The proposal had been scheduled for a hearing by the county commission on Tuesday night. But Webb asked the commissioners to delay voting on the rezoning and proposed land-use plan amendment.
Webb told the commissioners his client wants to wait until after the county completes a study of the area in March. He also said “a few issues need to be resolved” before the project can proceed.
DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader, who represents the area, was cautious about the proposal.
Rader said the county had to be sure that “what is proposed and what is entitled is what gets developed there.”
Don Broussard, who is vice-president of the Sagamore Hills Civic Association, agreed that the commission vote should be postponed.
Broussard later told a reporter he wasn’t necessarily opposed to the plan, but he was concerned about the possible spread of these kinds of developments along North Druid Hills between Toco Hills and the Interstate.
“I mean how many of these town centers are we going to have?” Broussard asked.
The developer is hoping area residents will accept the plan because it’s directly adjacent to the Interstate and far removed from any residential area.
On Jan. 26, the commissioners also put off until next month a vote on a proposed expansion of Marist School.
The plan has drawn opposition from area residents who complain that, if approved, it will ruin wetlands surrounding the school and result in the unlawful removal of trees in the flood plain along Nancy Creek.
Ron Sprinkle, president of the Ashford Alliance Community Association, has said the tree problem could be a deal breaker.
“Our position has been that the county should not move on until the core issue of whether or not trees can be removed from the floodplain is resolved,” Sprinkle said at a recent meeting of the neighborhood association.
“If the county comes back and says that trees cannot be removed from the floodplain, this plan is not viable,” Sprinkle said.