A major mixed-use project—featuring a six-story, 236-unit apartment building and a five-story office building—will start going up soon at Peachtree-Dunwoody Road and Roberts Court in Sandy Springs.
Despite its size and prominent location on a 10-acre site across Peachtree-Dunwoody from the North Springs MARTA station, the project by Trammell Crow Residential has been moving ahead quietly. In part, that’s because it is already allowed under a 2001 rezoning for an even bigger project that triggered a major controversy and legal battle, but never got built.
A 2002 legal settlement between the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods and the original developer, Sandy Springs’ Charlie Roberts, has requirements for landscape buffers and screening, including a 2-acre “conservation easement” or private park. Trammell Crow Residential will fulfill those legal obligations, according to developer attorney Chip Collins and Council of Neighborhoods president Trisha Thompson.
“The Council of Neighborhoods is very excited that this long, 10- or 12-year [project] and rezoning is finally coming to fruition with a use that is less intense than the original rezoning and is more in line with the character of the neighborhood,” said Thompson. The group is also pleased “that a large area will be set aside in a permanent conservation easement for the benefit of the entire neighborhood,” she said.
Roberts’ original project was approved by Fulton County before the city of Sandy Springs incorporated. A proposed redevelopment of a site that had only a single house, it featured a 14-story apartment building, a 12-story condominium tower and a 10-story office tower, among other uses.
“What they’re doing is a lot less dense,” Collins said of Trammell Crow Residential. “The condos are gone and the apartments are less in density. The office [space] is less dense.”
The office building will have about 125,000 square feet of space, and the apartment building will have some ground-floor retail space, Collins said. The apartments and offices will wrap around a shared parking deck, he added.
The developers bought the property late last year and expect to start construction in April, Collins said. He estimated construction will last 18 to 24 months.
The legal settlement has several provisions, including a $7,500 allowance to each neighboring resident to install their own landscape screening. But the biggest provision is the conservation easement, a green space with trails that will be overseen by the Sandy Springs Conservancy, according to Thompson. It will be open to abutting residents, but not the general public.
The green space will serve as a “as a permanent buffer between the development and the neighborhood,” Collins said. “It will be basically a private park. It’s not a public park.”
However, the exact details of the agreement are still being discussed in meetings with the Council of Neighborhoods and area residents. Thompson said there are still some details she questions, such as screening for the parking garage.
The agreement requires approval by the Sandy Springs City Council, and the developers sought that approval at the March 1 council meeting. However, the council deferred it at least partly at Thompson’s request so that there would be more time to review it. The council and city staff did not explain the full purpose of the agreement or any details of the overall project.
“This is not done out of a sense of anybody not doing what they’re supposed to do…[but rather] so nobody feels like they’re being tricked,” said Councilman Gabriel Sterling, as he called for the deferral to the council’s Tues., March 15 meeting.
“This has been a very cooperative undertaking since Trammell Crow [Residential] has gotten involved,” Collins said, adding he does not expect any changes to the proposed agreement. “This is just about working with the neighbors to make sure we’re fulfilling all requirements of the earlier settlement.”