A plan to turn a Sandy Springs church property into a senior housing complex—a design so controversial it has become a City Council campaign issue—got a second chance to compromise with critics as the May 17 council meeting.

Parc Communities’ illustration of its proposed senior housing complex at Hammond and Glenridge drives from its city planning file.

In January, Parc Communities proposed a 201-unit luxury senior rental complex up to 75 feet tall at the corner of Glenridge and Hammond drives. The development would replace the Apostles Church, which ran into financial trouble. Residents have criticized the proposed height and density, and the city Planning Commission last month recommended denying Parc’s zoning and permit requests.

Chip Collins, an attorney for the developer, asked the City Council for a two-month deferral to rework the plan.

“We believe this is a solvable issue,” he said, adding he thinks there is a “solution the neighbors can live with and we all can live in” one day as seniors.

Collins said the delay will allow the developers to, among other efforts, finish a study of possibly plowing 12 feet of earth off the site to lower the overall height of any new buildings. The developers had previously said such a study was impossible to complete without demolishing the existing church.

Steve Berson, one of the neighbors who opposed the original plan, was among those willing to look at a revamped project. “We look forward to continuing the dialog,” he told the council, which voted to approve a two-month deferral.

Council member Tibby DeJulio said he supported the deferral mostly because some type of redevelopment will happen due to the financial situation that has left the church with “one foot in the grave and one foot on the banana peel.”

“It’s a very intensive use of that little corner there…And Chip, we’ve got to make sure we protect this neighborhood because it’s a really nice neighborhood,” DeJulio said.

Collins is a former District 3 City Council member, and he and the project have become issues in the current five-way campaign for the District 3 seat. At a May 16 forum, candidate Brian Eufinger criticized Collins’ endorsement of fellow candidate Chris Burnett and his representation of the Parc project, calling him part of a “revolving door” of politicians turned advocates of plans that go against the city’s land-use plan. Burnett and Collins both say the endorsement has nothing to do with Collins’ representation of developers.

Eufinger attended the May 17 council meeting and watched Collins present the senior home request. Eufinger did not speak publicly himself and left after the council’s Parc vote.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.