A Texas-based developer says it is considering cutting its proposed office tower at Northpark 100 to 42 stories, from the 50 stories originally planned.
To address residents’ concerns about a project they say would bring too much traffic to the area, real estate developer Hines has asked for more time to work on plans for Northpark 100 to make the proposed mixed-use development less dense.
The Sandy Springs City Council voted to delay consideration of the project for 30 days. In addition to the 50-story office tower, the original proposal included 500 apartments, hotel and retail space. The new proposal could decrease the office tower to 42 stories and the apartments to 325 units.
“What we’ve looked at and really challenged ourselves with is [maintaining] viability for our development and maintaining the quality characteristics of our conceptual plan” while driving projected traffic generation closer to what the existing zoning would produce, said Mark Ferris, a managing director at Hines.
The company has requested a zoning change for 14.3 acres of land at Peachtree Dunwoody, Abernathy and Mount Vernon roads from office to mixed use, which would allow for the apartments, as well as a use permit for the office tower to exceed maximum height requirements.
In July, the council deferred a vote on the project for 60 days to study traffic in the area. City staff members and the city Planning Commission have recommended the council approve the Northpark project with some conditions, saying it fit into Sandy Springs’ Comprehensive Plan and Live Work Regional district.
Critics have said a 50-story office tower would be the tallest in the area and would change the city’s landscape. They say the project would bring too much traffic to an already-congested area.
Ferris said he requested the deferral so that city staff could analyze the new proposal, which also reduces office space by 150,000 square feet and retail by 50,000 square feet.
“We think we’ve made significant improvements and are very close” to a solution,” Ferris said, adding that the company is still willing to make road infrastructure improvements that it had previously proposed.
Those improvements include a northbound and additional southbound turning lanes on Peachtree Dunwoody, dual eastbound turning lanes on Mount Vernon, restriping the Mount Vernon bridge for two westbound lanes, constructing a dedicated westbound right turn lane on Mount Vernon, a left turn eastbound lane on Mount Vernon, pedestrian sidewalks and bike lanes.
Councilman Gabriel Sterling, who represents District 4, where the project is located, made the motion to defer the vote.
“I think we want to see mixed use and good quality mixed use,” he said. “We gave the 60-day deferral so that we could get a handle on traffic [in the area].” But, he expressed frustration that a new proposal had not been worked on earlier.
Councilman John Paulson said he liked the idea of mixed-use projects in the area, and that the Northpark project would change office space to a place where people could both live and work. It’s a “great direction for this property,” he said.
In other business, the council granted a 60-day deferral to a proposed development at Franklin and Roswell roads that would replace the Park 225 apartments.
The delay will allow The Providence Group to continue working with neighbors to address concerns that the project is too dense.
On Aug. 21, the city’s Planning Commission recommended the deferral, stating that while redeveloping the property is needed, the proposed density is too high.
The developers have requested rezoning the property to allow a mix of townhomes and apartments as well as a permit to exceed the height allowance.
“We are in support of the deferral,” said resident John Stembridge, who was speaking to the council on behalf of the Westfield Park neighborhood, next to the site. He said neighbors think the development as proposed would destroy the character of the area. But, he said that talks with the developers were going in the right direction. “We did feel like there was positive momentum from the developer,” he said. “They did propose some revisions.”