A recent planning session centered on the Brookhaven-Oglethorpe MARTA station yielded ideas for improving Peachtree Road, and unveiled tensions between MARTA and Brookhaven officials over the control of the large redevelopment project.
The four-day ‘charrette’ for the redevelopment of the Brookhaven-station, which came to a close Oct. 24, was a planning and brainstorming session for architects, urban planners, transportation experts and stakeholders to discuss ways to make “transit-oriented development” at the MARTA station a reality.
MARTA will soon begin the search for a developer to build a mixed-use project on the underutilized parking lots surrounding the station.
The main purpose of the gathering was to think of ways to make street improvements so people would be able to walk or bike to the station – located on a busy stretch of Peachtree Road – rather than driving in their cars.
City officials also discussed potential zoning for the MARTA property, which is envisioned as a unique mix of uses surrounding the station.
Robert Reed of Southface, the organization leading the charrette, said Brookhaven’s PC3 zoning classification – a mixed-use designation that relies heavily on a site plan – would be ideal.
He said the rezoning application would include ‘pods’ with descriptions from the developer. Ideally, he said, the zoning would be in place before MARTA puts out a request for proposals from developers next year.
But Brookhaven City Council members did not like the idea of approving the zoning before seeing the development plans.
“Having the zoning done before you know what the development is going to be is a bit ‘cart before the horse,’” Mayor J. Max Davis said.
Reed warned that quality developers may not be interested in going through the effort of preparing an RFP and working with MARTA if the zoning is uncertain.
“Our goal obviously is to minimize barriers … for developers,” said Jason Ward, manager of joint development for MARTA.
Michael Roberts, of the Brookhaven Peachtree Community Alliance, presented a plan to provide runoff detention and treatment at Fernwood Park by creating an amenity lake and green space at the site, which is behind the Brookhaven library branch. Joe Palladi, a Brookhaven resident and retired GDOT engineer, presented some of the road design options from the charrette.
One idea was to install a median along Peachtree Road, providing pedestrian refuge much like the recently completed work along the same road in Buckhead near Lenox Mall.
Another idea is a boulevard design, featuring two center lanes for higher-speed travel separated by two medians, and two outer lanes for lower-speed travel, bicycles and street parking.
Palladi told council members there aren’t cost estimates for these proposals. “These are ‘what-ifs.’ Not ‘can you afford its?’” Palladi said.