A Sandy Springs real estate firm’s plan to turn a Roswell Road house into its own office met with skepticism from about two dozen residents at an April 26 community meeting at City Hall.
LEFKO Group, a group of investment and development firms owned by the Lefkovitz family, current works from home offices, Marc Lefkovitz told the residents. He said its commercial and investment businesses are doing well enough to need an office, which the company intends to put inside a converted house at Roswell Road and Sunny Brook Lane, just north of Abernathy Road.
“We’re lean and mean” and would operate a “light office” with no heavy equipment or high traffic, Lefkovitz said.
But residents of the neighborhood, known as Sunny Brook Meadows, weren’t so sure. They were especially unhappy that LEFKO has not fixed up the house since buying it last year and rented it to a residential tenant. The property has code violations, several residents claimed.
“Because of this situation, there is a lack of trust,” one resident said.
Lefkovitz, while describing himself as “equally frustrated with the situation,” said city officials tell him the property meets code and he must respect his tenant’s rights. “We did not plan to rent the house to anyone…we were forced to bring in a tenant,” Lefkovitz said, blaming a recent city moratorium on rezonings for the company’s decision.
Code Enforcement has received two complaints about the property this year, according to the city’s online inspection records. One was a parking violation reported as resolved by “voluntary compliance.” The other, for “occupancy/overcrowding,” was ruled “unfounded” by an inspector.
LEFKO’s plan involves the one-story ranch house at 6691 Sunny Brook and an adjacent lot, totaling 0.6 acres. LEFKO wants to convert the house into offices—including by enclosing its carport—and build a seven-space parking lot in the rear.
LEFKO intends to use the house’s residential septic tank, not sewer lines. Lefkovitz said a Fulton County official informally told him that is acceptable if no more than eight people use the building. He said that’s about as many employees as the company expects to have there. LEFKO’s residential development work would not be based there, he said, though he could not rule out its clients visiting sometimes.
The plan requires rezoning and variances for the proposed zoning’s new setbacks. Lefkovitz said the company also would seek exemption from the Main Street Overlay district’s requirements, which would include installing a sidewalk on Sunny Brook. The properties are targeted for mixed-use development in the city’s land-use plan, Lefkovitz said.
Several residents were puzzled about why LEFKO chose a house instead of simply buying or renting space in the city’s many existing office complexes. Lefkovitz said the “extremely visible” site will make for good advertising—with a sign along Roswell Road—and the “location is fabulous” for convenience. LEFKO also sees the site as “investing in real estate,” he said.
LEFKO is also in the process of buying a property in the city of Roswell as a back-up office site, Lefkovitz said. He would not commit to beautifying the house as a residence if the office plan falls through, saying it’s “hard to imagine making top dollar” with a home at that location.
Other concerns expressed by residents included further rezoning spreading up Sunny Brook “like kudzu,” as one resident put it, as well as the possibility of LEFKO eventually selling to a less desirable business. In the meantime, several residents said, the property’s current condition is hurting LEFKO’s cause.
Lefkovitz said he understands there is mixed response to the proposal in the neighborhood. He said some residents appear to accept an office use, while some others have told him they want it to remain residential so they can arrange for a developer to buy out the entire area.
The proposal next heads to the city’s Planning Commission on June 16. Lefkovitz said he hopes to reach some neighborhood compromise by then.
“We’re reasonable. We’re concerned…We are heavily invested in the community,” he said.