Caprice Schuff, an interior designer, brings daughter Georgia and son Cannon, 2, to The Little House of Art to get hands-on experience with visual arts.

A year ago, residents driving by Village Place Brookhaven would see plenty of empty store fronts at the low-rise, mixed-use development along Dresden Drive.

If you head there now on a weekend night, you can hand your keys over to a valet before dining at one of Brookhaven’s newest restaurants, Kaleidoscope Bistro and Pub.

Seriously. Valet parking. In Brookhaven.

While the valet is more a convenience than a necessity, the upscale feel is just what some of the people in the neighborhood are looking for, said Joey Riley, Kaleidoscope’s owner and executive chef.

“Dresden’s very exciting,” he said at a recent meeting of the Brookhaven Community Connection, a local business and civic group. “I think Brookhaven can be the new Buckhead – that the neighborhood doesn’t have to leave to support.”

These days, activity is pretty noticeable around Village Place Brookhaven, located between Peachtree and Clairmont roads in a residential area that’s predominately comprised of single-family homes.

Shops and restaurants at Village Place Brookhaven are starting to draw crowds.

The shopping portion of the mixed-use development has been so successful recently that it’s running out of retail space. Currently, Brookhaven Village only has one more lease in its 36,000-square-feet inventory, the head of the center’s management company says. The company is considering a couple of proposals on the remaining lease – a good problem to have.

Meanwhile, the shops and restaurants on Dresden Drive are starting to draw their own crowd.

According to residents, Village Place is starting to become a community hub for dining, entertainment and family outings for the people who live in the neighborhhoods surrounding it.

Cara Sumner, a six-year Ashford Park resident, was in the The Little House of Art recently, booking an upcoming birthday party for her son.

The open-air store, which has been open for several months, caters to young children who have an artistic bent.

Sumner said that the convenience and neighborhood feel of the retailers often bring her and her family down to Yoforia, an organic yogurt shop, Verde, a popular eatery, and the children’s art shop.

“It’s like being in a bubble here,” Sumner said. “We want to come down here and spend money because we want to support the businesses in the neighborhood. We want to keep it here.”

Dillon Baynes, president of the Orinda Corp., which manages Village Place Brookhaven, said that the success of the mixed-use development didn’t come overnight. This time last year, the “perception was that retail wasn’t thriving,” he said.

The overall development struggled in the last few years during the recession.

However, 2010 was a year for steady growth at Village Place Brookhaven, Baynes said.

Yoforia’’s opening in spring 2010, in particular, seemed to galvanize would-be retailers behind the idea that the development was a viable location to operate a business.

“Their popularity wasn’t lost on us,” Baynes said. “Whenever you drive by their place in [Virginia] Highlands you see 30 people standing outside.

“Since they came here, we’ve been clipping along about one store front a month.”

Meanwhile, the office suites and residential units of the development are showing a steady increase of interest. An optical shop recently signed a lease to relocate from Lenox Square.

On the residential side, 15 of 41 units remain for sale. The steady growth of imtrest in the retail and office space at Brookhaven Village has developers optimistic that the residential sales will follow, especially during the spring.

For now, Baynes doesn’t see Village Place Brookhaven as just like Buckhead, and that seems to be a selling point.

“It seems like we are growing and the entire pie is growing,” he said. “Buckhead is what it is – sometimes there are traffic issues and parking issues. We see this development as offering a neighborhood alternative.”