The history of the land where Dunwoody Crown Towers is being proposed played a significant role in developers deciding what to propose for the area, the developers say.
“We searched back to when the Indians, farmers and onward were on that land,” said veteran Realtor Charlie Brown, the man behind such projects as Atlantic Station, Technology Park/Atlanta, John’s Creek in north Fulton County and Lenox Park located in Buckhead.
Dunwoody Crown Towers, an ambitious development project of highrises on the former Gold Kist site off Ashford-Dunwoody Road, is proposed to include business, hotel and residential towers. The planned development is named Dunwoody Crown Towers, a nod to Crown Holdings Group, which purchased the property more than two years ago.
One of the first office buildings in this area was Gold Kist, Brown said. But before it became Gold Kist it was the Cotton Producers Association, a cooperative founded in the mid-1930s by D.W. Brooks, an agronomy professor at the University of Georgia, to help farmers in Carrollton during the Great Depression market their cotton.
The Cotton Producers Association assured farmers were paid fairly for their cotton and also assisted them in having access to better technology and marketing for their product. By the 1950s, the co-op had diversified beyond cotton to chickens, fertilizer, pork and other grains, and became known as Gold Kist.
“The definition of poverty at one time was being a Georgia farmer,” Brown said. “And Gold Kist changed that. D.W. Brooks did that – he was a good farmer.”
In 2006, however, Gold Kist was sold to Pilgrim’s Pride Cooperation, creating the largest poultry business in the world.
“That building has been vacant a long time,” Brown said. “Dunwoody is an active market. This is one of the finest places in the country you could have a mixed-use development. This is a suburban area that is on the edge of being urban.”
The 15-acre site is already zoned for a 20-story hotel and two 24-story business highrise buildings. On Jan. 5, Crown Development filed a pre-application review with the city of Dunwoody for a rezoning request to also be able to build two residential towers not to exceed 40 stories at the eastern end of the project.
The pre-application form says the property would be divided into two tracts, a 9.2-acre site for the hotel and business towers, and 4.75 acres for the two residential towers.
Zoning attorney Doug Dillard said the development would create a true “gateway to Dunwoody.”
“This is a real opportunity for the city to show the Southeast it is not the country and turn it into a true urban mode served by transit,” he said.
Traffic concerns raised
Dunwoody Mayor Denis Shortal said traffic mitigation is a major concern and he plans to have town hall meetings to receive input from citizens on the proposed development. He also said the proposed Westside Connector will play a significant role in discussion moving forward.
The Westside Connector is a planned road coming off I-285, going under Ashford-Dunwoody Road and connecting with Perimeter Center Parkway. The road is part of a network of connectors planned for the area as new, highrise developments are being built. The Westside Connector was conceptualized in the 2011 Perimeter Community Improvement Districts’ 10-year plan, but wasn’t a reality until last year.
The idea for the Westside Connector plan started when the owners of Crown Holdings came to the city and offered the city the property for the road at no cost. Brown, with Crown Holdings, offered to donate about 2 acres of the 15-acre site to the city of Dunwoody.
“That’s $15-$20 million dollars right there [to build that road]. The city doesn’t have that kind of money. That would need state and federal funds, and be a GDOT project,” Shortal said. “Unless the connector goes all the way through to Perimeter Center Parkway, it’s not much use to the city.”
Shortal added that the developers have only submitted a preliminary application for rezoning. “It’s not a permanent one. This is when we go back and forth,” he said.
City Councilman Doug Thompson said how much development and growth will take place in Dunwoody will be the pivotal issue the council will tackle over the next two years.
“Property owners have certain rights … but we have to have responsible growth and respect the residential nature of Dunwoody,” Thompson said.
A meeting on the project is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Dunwoody Homeowners. The group is scheduled to meet in Room 4 of the DeKalb Cultural Arts Center. Dillard said he would be going before the city’s Planning Commission in March and then City Council in April.