A plan to replace a church with a 201-unit senior housing building met disapproval from the Sandy Springs Planning Commission on April 21.
“I think this would be great if it wasn’t so grandiose and large [and] sitting on top of a hill,” said commission chair Lane Frostbaum, echoing residents’ concerns about the plan’s height and density.
In January, Parc Communities proposed the luxury senior housing complex to replace the Apostles Church at Glenridge and Hammond drives. The plan includes three interconnected sections ranging from five stories and over 75 feet tall on Hammond to three stories on the Glenridge side.
Chip Collins, an attorney for Parc, noted the city’s land-use plan calls for more senior housing. He noted that Hammond Drive is home to the King and Queen skyscrapers—the city’s tallest buildings—and said this project is “the right transition” between dense and single-family areas.
But several residents disagreed, including Glenridge Hammond Neighborhood Association president Steve Oppenheimer and Steve Berson, an Aberdeen Forest Homeowners Association board member.
“So much for privacy, seclusion and enjoying the outdoors,” said Berson, describing the proposed building as looming over his Glenairy Drive back yard with 45 windows. He said he supports more senior housing, but also the land-use plan’s “protected neighborhoods,” which aren’t supposed to see developments of the 36-units-per-acre scale.
Collins, a local resident and former City Council member, raised the specter of a less desirable developer buying the church property. “As a Sandy Springs homer and resident, I’m concerned about, if not this [project], what?” he asked.
Scott Nelson, a resident of an adjacent property on Glenridge, made a similar statement at the first community meeting in January. But at the Planning Commission meeting, he had changed his mind, voicing fears of a “domino effect” of development on Glenridge. He said developers are already asking to buy his home and his neighbors’, and may already have some under contract.
“We are not OK with a five-story building being next to us,” Nelson said.
City planning staff had recommended denying Parc’s request, which includes rezoning, a use permit and a height variance. The Planning Commission voted to recommend denial to the Sandy Springs City Council, which will make the final decision on the project’s fate next month.
After the meeting, Collins said Parc had removed a proposed health clinic from the project as a concession to neighbors, and was willing to lower part of the building by one story.
“We disagree with the result and think Sandy Springs is missing out on a potential amenity for a city that desperately needs” senior housing, he said.