The Brookhaven City Council on Oct. 14 gave the OK to its Buford Highway Improvement Plan, which had been deferred from the Sept. 9 meeting.
If goals in the plan are adhered to, the corridor could one day be a walkable area with retail, dining options and a mix of high-end and affordable housing.
“We regard Buford Highway as our diamond in the rough,” said Councilman Joe Gebbia, who represents the corridor.
Key parts of the plan include looking at potential uses of specific parcels of land in the corridor, including underdeveloped tracts. The city’s development authority gave its blessing to the plan, with addition of a preamble that clarifies that the plan is a blueprint that will need more in-depth study.
Councilwoman Rebecca Chase Williams said that the city should engage Chamblee and Doraville to look at improvements to the parts of Buford Highway that run through those cities.
“I think we can be the impetus for change,” she said.
Resident Dale Boone, who lives in the Buford Highway area, told the city council it should approve the plan.
“We do need the city to take the lead on this,” he said, explaining that if it’s left solely to developers, the revitalization will not happen. “Once you build it for us the businesses will come.”
Boone also pushed for a name change to “Brookhaven Boulevard.” He said when folks outside Brookhaven hear the name “Buford Highway” they “smirk.”
The city hired The Jaeger Company and Urban Partners to develop the plan with the help of citizens, elected officials and city staff.
During a presentation in August, Urban Partners’ Jim Hartley pointed out that a suggested greenway along the North Fork Peachtree Creek that runs parallel to Buford Highway is a major component of the plan that calls for more walkability, producing “an amenity that will change the character of the site.”
He also pointed out underdeveloped parcels along the corridor, with suggestions of how they might be utilized.
One parcel near the intersection of Buford Highway and North Druid Hills Road currently contains vacant property, a gas station and an auto title business. Hartley said he envisions that location as “a significant hotel site” with conference facilities that could take advantage of the corridor’s international theme.
Another parcel at the Northeast Plaza on the corner of Buford Highway and Briarwood Road could be converted to mixed-use development per the plan, incorporating first-floor retail underneath apartments, with 25 to 30 percent of those units meeting affordable housing requirements.
Dale Jaeger with The Jaeger Company, a landscape architecture and planning group, said that while Urban Partners focused on economic development, her company looked at physical improvements such as landscape buffers, stormwater design, public open spaces and bus stop waiting zones.
“One of the first things we want to do is change peoples’ impression” of the area, she said during the August presentation, suggesting a name change to “Buford Boulevard.”
She said that park space and redevelopment along Peachtree Creek was also crucial. It’s the “glue that binds the concept together,” she said.
The Buford Highway plan is part of a group of plans outlining the city’s goals in the areas of development, parks and transportation. The Transportation Plan and Parks & Recreation Master Plan were given the final OK on Sept. 9, while the Comprehensive Plan 2034 is being transmitted to Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs and the Atlanta Regional Commission for review as required by state law.
Council members have stressed that the plans are not set in stone, and projects suggested in the plans would have to budgeted for and approved by council.
To see the plan, visit the city’s website at www.brookhavenga.gov.