Developers for a proposed apartment complex and restaurant space on rapidly growing Dresden Drive received an icy reception from several Brookhaven residents during a sometimes tense community meeting.
Representatives from developer Terwilliger Pappas met June 23 with about 20 neighborhood activists at University Baptist Church on Fernwood Circle. This was one of several meetings the developers have hosted since June to discuss its proposed Solis Dresden mixed-use development on 2 acres of property at the corner of Dresden Drive and Appalachee Drive. The developers go before the city’s Planning Commission on July 6 to seek rezoning of four parcels on Dresden Drive from single-family residential (R-75) to pedestrian community (PC-2).
Developers described the most recent renovations to its plans as the result of community input, including the number of residential units being reduced from an original 206 apartments to 113 apartments plus eight for-sale townhouses and two live-work units. Rent would be approximately $2.10 per square feet.
Also, the building would be four stories and not five stories, with three residential stories and one restaurant and retail floor; there would be added landscaping on the ground floor and the terrace level of the fourth floor to obscure residents being able to see into neighboring yards; and the developer is proposing to spend more than $1 million to add 44 public parking spots. Fifty-six parking spaces for residential and retail have also been added, from 214 to 270. Retail space stands at 9,000 square feet.
Lenore Kaye of Cortez Layne, however, was not impressed with the changes.
“Do you understand the emotional level [of dealing with these plans] … and the words that we don’t want apartments?” she said. “What part hasn’t been heard? I’m absolutely stunned this is still an option. It’s like living in angst all the time knowing we’re going to have fight after fight after fight. It’s non-stop. I don’t mean to minimize your efforts, but this is emotionally draining.”
Those living in residential neighborhoods surrounding Dresden Drive have been vocal against the rapid development and especially the apartments going up in the area. They complain that heavy traffic spilling over onto their streets from Peachtree Road will worsen. The proposed mixed-use development of the Brookhaven-MARTA station on Peachtree Road also has residents on edge because with it comes more apartments, and, they say, traffic that can’t be handled by the current roads.
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 that includes 206 apartments.
The rapid development also affects the overall look and feel of residential neighborhoods and residents have said they don’t want their homes to be negatively affected by urban development.
Attorney Woody Galloway, who represents Terwilliger Pappas, said Brookhaven is a booming market right now that makes it desirable to developers as well as people who want to live and work in the area.
“You’re living in a city growing that’s growing like crazy,” Galloway said.
Kaye said this development and future developments will “destroy” the character of the neighborhood community. Galloway disagreed.
“You have people that need all kinds of housing. That’s the fabric of a community … and you happen to live in an area that is extremely hot right now,” he said. “We’re here because we need zoning. I’m not trying to pull wool over your eyes, but what this developer has been willing to do is unprecedented.”
Galloway said the Solis Dresden proposed development is consistent with the Brookhaven-Peachtree Overlay District for Dresden Drive that encourages mixed-use developments. The property is currently zoned for three single-family homes and an office building. Kaye and others said they wanted to keep that zoning in place.
“That’s not a choice and you know that,” Galloway said. “Do you work with us … or do you wait for the next guy who may not be as willing to work with you, wait for the next city council that may not be as responsive? We feel like we can be an asset.”
Donna Shrager, who lives in Village Park and has worked in real estate for two decades, said she supports the development.
“I think they have a point,” she said. “They have given us so much and are still giving us more. They have more than met us halfway. This is not a Connelly [development], this is not a MARTA [development]. It’s 118 apartments. I just think the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.”
Jen Heath, a third-generation Brookhaven resident, was not yet ready to accept Solis Dresden.
“It’s nice that developers are beginning to listen to us, but there is still more work that needs to be done,” she said.