Developers for the controversial “Dresden Village” mixed-use complex on Dresden Drive in Brookhaven are pushing back their rezoning request to the city until August so talks with neighborhood residents can continue.
Connolly Investment and Development and Fairfield Residential are the developers for the $50-$60 million planned mix-use project at the 3-acre site on the corner of Dresden Drive and Caldwell Drive including where the DeKalb County Tax Commissioner office is currently located. They had already delayed its rezoning request from June to July prior to announcing at a May 30 community meeting they would delay again until August. The request would go before the Planning Commission on Aug. 3.
“We’ve got a lot of issues to work out,” said Carl Westmoreland, attorney for the developers.
Edward Matthews, who lives across Peachtree Road behind the Dunkin Donuts in the Historic Brookhaven neighborhood, said he thinks Dresden Village would be a good addition to the neighborhood.
“Density is coming here,” he said. “Downtown has become Perimeter Center and Lenox Mall and there are traffic issues … but after 7 p.m., traffic is not bad. This is an urban environment because it is a desirable area.”
But for Keith Davis, who lives on Wayland Circle, and Julie Dragich who lives on Caldwell Road, the idea of more apartments backing up to their neighborhood is undesirable.
“We need to come up with a master plan and have a united effort,” Davis said, adding he doesn’t trust the Brookhaven-Peachtree Overlay District approved by the city in 2013 for this area. “We can’t rely on the city. We live here and we know what’s going on and we need our own master plan.”
Dragich simply wants the units to be owner-occupied and not rentals.
“If they own, they take better care of their home,” she said.
Westmoreland is asking for people living in the surrounding neighborhoods concerned about the proposed development to select a small group of leaders to meet with developers to go over key issues, including: height of the proposed development, Caldwell Drive access, traffic issues, and number of rental units.
The idea is for the developers and community residents come up with an agreeable plan with the developers submitting a revised plan to the city by the end of June, Westmoreland said. If the project is approved, construction would take approximately two years and be open in 2019.
The proposed project that includes 20,000 square-feet of retail and restaurants, 206 apartments and up to 250 paid public parking spaces has faced strong backlash from those living in the surrounding neighborhoods concerned about more apartments being built in the area leading to more traffic. There are also concerns and the height of the development and potential loss of privacy for single-family homes.
Another mixed-use development including 122 apartments at the corner of Dresden Drive and Appalachee Drive is seeking rezoning in July; the Brookhaven-Oglethorpe MARTA mixed-use development would add another approximate 700 apartments.
Connolly and Fairfield are seeking to rezone property at 1336-1370 Dresden Drive and 2544-2562 Caldwell Drive in order to build the mixed-use development. The apartments along Dresden Drive would be three stories and located over a one-story retail floor, while the apartments on Caldwell Drive would be four stories. Retail stores and a restaurant would be located on the first floor along the fronts of Dresden Drive and Parkside Drives.
At the May 30 meeting at Briarwood Park Recreation Center, residents asked developers to again consider constructing only three stories on Caldwell Drive rather than four; Westmoreland said if that was to be considered, the developers would then consider building five stories on Dresden Drive. However, the Overlay District for the area does not currently allow for five stories on Dresden Drive.
Concerns raised by several residents was that there are too many apartments being built on Dresden Drive, but Tommy Brunson, senior vice president of the Southeastern region for Fairfield, said the market is strong for rental units, especially high-end apartments with $1,000-$2,000 a month rents. These apartments would be marketed to millennial and empty-nesters, Brunson said.
A request by some that there be no entrance or exit to the development on Caldwell Drive was rejected by the developers who said it was not feasible.
Parking is another major issue and developers are wanting to make the parking deck a paid deck. Connolly CEO J.R. Connolly said the city needs to have a comprehensive solution to the parking problem on Dresden Drive. He noted some residents living in other apartment complexes, for example, use on-street parking rather than parking in their complex’s deck. The Dresden Village parking deck would offer up to 250 public parking spots and about 250 residential parking spaces.
“We would like to be part of that comprehensive solution,” he said.