Buckhead residents won’t soon be roaming the aisles of a new Walmart Supercenter near the Lindbergh MARTA station.
For almost two years, Sembler Co. and Fuqua Development have been pushing a mixed-use development project that would put the big-box retailer, complete with a supermarket component, within walking distance of MARTA’s Lindbergh Center station.
A 7-6 vote by Atlanta City Council on Oct. 1 fell short of the eight votes needed to approve the plan.
Fuqua Development CEO, Jeff Fuqua, said after the meeting that he is not giving up on the project.
The council’s decision precludes reconsidering the land use and zoning request for two years, but the developer can begin the process of submitting a new proposal at any time. Fuqua says he plans on submitting a proposal at the neighborhood level soon.
In the weeks leading up to the vote, neighborhood groups and residents have been increasingly vocal in their opposition to the project.
Councilman Howard Shook, whose district includes the proposed development, voted against it. He said the flood of resident feedback had an effect on the vote.
“The volume of emails was such that I haven’t seen since I’ve been here for 11 years. I know other council members were listening to that,” Shook said following the vote. “Without that [feedback] maybe this would have been approved months ago.”
Buckhead residents filed into council chambers and sat in silent opposition to the project as the issue came to a vote on Oct. 1. A number of residents had been scheduled to speak at the meeting, but declined to use their allotted time after City Council President Caesar Mitchell said council rules prohibited comment on land use and zoning issues before meetings of the full council.
Fuqua said he is open to any good ideas about changes to the current site plan, he doesn’t feel a new submission would have to be radically different from the current proposal to eventually gain approval.
Fuqua has maintained, throughout the process, that opposition to the development comes from a small group of neighborhood leaders but not from a majority of residents living near the site.
“The 7,000 people that really touch our project, we haven’t had any opposition from them,” Fuqua told reporters. “I think if you live adjacent to it or if you have a big investment adjacent to it, you’re going to appreciate retail, 350 residential units and a park.”
Peachtree Hills resident Janice Hall, who came to the meeting to oppose the development, laughed at the notion that residents were not opposed to the project. She says her home is about a mile from the proposed build site. Allowing the project to move forward, she says, would mean the time and effort invested in creating Lindbergh’s Special Public Interest zoning district had gone to waste.
“It changes the SPI. That’s something we worked on for many years with the MARTA Lindbergh Project… If you do that throughout the city there’s just no reason for neighbors to participate in this at all.”