There will be a new 26-story office tower in Sandy Springs, but it will rise above a neighborhood that opposes the height of the looming structure.
At its June 18 meeting, City Council sided with Hines Interests Limited Partnership in its request for a zoning variance to raise its height limit from 18 stories to 26. City Council voted 3-3, and Mayor Eva Galambos cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of the developer.
Council members John Paulson, Dianne Fries and Chip Collins voted “yes” with the mayor. Council members Tibby DeJulio, Gabriel Sterling and Karen Meinzen-McEnerny voted “no.”
Galambos’ vote came after several residents pleaded with the city to stand firm on its height restrictions. The residents, mostly from the nearby Mount Vernon Plantation apartments, cited numerous concerns, including blocking the sight of the skyline and shadows cast by the taller building.
Their words also recalled a time when Galambos and other city leaders formed Sandy Springs because of Fulton County’s alleged indifference to north Fulton residents’ concerns. Galambos has served two terms since 2006 and has declined to seek a third.
Mary Jo Marx, a resident, said allowing the variance would be an echo of the county government Sandy Springs fled.
“I would ask the mayor and city council to vote against this proposal, for one primary reason,” Marx said. “Stick with the foundations of our fight that you, madam mayor, led so well for so long against exactly this type of thing.”
Trisha Thompson with the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods said the variance reminded her of the “bad old days” under Fulton County. “Even Fulton County gave us 18 stories here,” she said.
Galambos told the residents the building would have less density with the additional floors.
“The reason I’m supporting it is, the density is not higher,” Galambos told the residents. “The density is lower than you had approved. You’re better off.”
Hines, a company based in Houston, said many of the additional floors would be contained within parking decks beneath the tower. The building will be located on approximately 4 acres at the corner of Peachtree Dunwoody and Abernathy roads. This building will join three others in the Northpark Town Center project that began in the 1980s.
John Heagy, a senior vice president in Hines Southeast Regional Office in Atlanta, said the expansion would increase open space and green space at the property. He said the development’s proximity to a MARTA transit station will make the building attractive to potential employers.
“We want Northpark 700 to become a competitive asset for Sandy Springs, and our goal is to bring real life to this great site,” he said.