Motorists face a formidable new onslaught of traffic on frequently clogged Roswell Road if developers’ plans are rubber stamped by Sandy Springs.
Buckhead and Sandy Springs neighborhoods along Roswell Road worry about the $150 million “Sandy Springs Gateway” (SSG) proposal to redevelop 21 acres. With some eager to replace the Chastain and Versailles apartments, we should be wary of swapping one set of problems for another.
JLB Realty and Core Development revised SSG plans on April 9. Neighborhood leaders met with them the next day. Clearly, the new plans were better, addressing many neighborhood comments. But, SSG is still too dense, exceeding the area’s comprehensive development guidelines. If nearby roads had unused capacity, overlooking this excessive density might be easier. But they don’t and we can’t.
Almost completely in Sandy Springs, SSG significantly impacts traffic in Atlanta. According to their traffic studies, SSG will generate 8,900 to 10,700 daily vehicle trips on nearby streets, 54 percent in Atlanta. A 22.5 percent traffic increase is forecast on Roswell Road at West Wieuca Road. Neighborhoods are rightly concerned with density, traffic and whether associated road changes use tax money wisely.
SSG’s traffic study foresees traffic being no worse after completion, assuming needed road improvements are made. Our experience is that traffic models struggle to replicate congestion resulting from human behavior. Other reasons for doubt exist. For example, SSG’s study didn’t consider Chastain Amphitheater and Chastain Park athletic events. Additionally, the recent proliferation of apartments in the area was largely ignored.
In North Buckhead alone, some 1,400 apartments are under review or under construction, a 28 percent increase in its housing units. This apartment flood is yet another bubble waiting to burst. Unfortunately, after the bubble, we’ll be stuck with those buildings and their traffic.
SSG would replace 436 apartments with:
• 700 apartments (buildings to 84 feet high)
• 120,000-square-feet of retail/office
• 1,484 parking spaces, including two parking decks
The Atlanta Regional Commission designated SSG a “Development of Regional Importance” and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority conditioned project approval on road changes, including:
• Move the Windsor Parkway intersection to meet Roswell Road at a right angle. This will remove an historic church (now a funeral home) and, reportedly, six private homes. Old Windsor will become an unsignalized dead-end, making shopping at Walgreens harder while encouraging cut-through traffic.
• Add an eastbound West Wieuca Road left-turn lane to feed the project’s Atlanta entrance. Atlanta must pay for road widening including condemning commercial property. No funding is offered by SSG or Sandy Springs. So, cash-short Atlanta would be forced to spend to strengthen Sandy Spring’s tax base while worsening Atlanta traffic!
We don’t want to kill this project but we don’t want it to strangle us, either. Buckhead residents, contact your Atlanta City Council members. Sandy Springs, disallow this density; follow your own comprehensive development plans!
Gordon Certain is president of the North Buckhead Civic Association.
The Cherokee Park development is a good sign that the economy is rebounding, and it will provide a more refreshing look to the southern part of Sandy Springs. It will replace some very old buildings that have been there a long time.
I support the development for several reasons:
1) There are a number of old apartment complexes on Roswell Road that are due for an extensive facelift or a complete rebuild.
2) The opportunity to increase property values for the neighborhood will not exist if the same dwelling is left in place (the status quo does not help anyone).
3) Points have been made about the upkeep of apartment complexes, and after a period of time they will require extensive renovations. I simply would say that is the case for any real estate. I have to maintain my home to make sure it continues to hold its value. This is not just for an apartment complex; there is always maintenance required to maintain property, whatever property it is.
4) Traffic will always be a problem in any large city and Atlanta is not exempt from that. There will always be traffic no matter how we try to deter a new construction project; in this case widening the intersection at Windsor Parkway and providing two left-turn lanes will make the commute for the morning and evening traffic less congested.
If the project is approved or not, the proposed changes to the Windsor Parkway/Roswell Road intersection should move forward regardless.
Other points to consider: Sandy Springs has already invested more than a million dollars to put sidewalks on Windsor Parkway that run from High Point Road to Roswell Road. With the potential of this new mixed-use facility, there will be even more potential for neighbors to walk to and from restaurants and shops located in the revitalized area.
Also, this development most likely will attract a young professional/technical workforce that could lead to more work-from- home scenarios that will also help reduce traffic congestion.
There are a lot of things to consider. I do understand that. I just think the positive points outweigh the negative ones which all tend to be traffic or the size of the development.
Scaling down the number of apartments should be discussed but it should not be the only reason to disapprove the project.
Rodney Murray is a resident of the High Point area of Sandy Springs.