The Dunwoody Planning Commission approved Aug. 9 a rezoning request for Transwestern to build a 16-story office tower on an unused corner of the Perimeter Mall parking lot adjacent to the Dunwoody MARTA station at the intersection of Hammond Drive and Perimeter Center Parkway.
The plan will now go before the City Council in September.
As part of the approval, commissioners asked for conditions in an effort to revive plans for what has been dubbed Perimeter Park.
The specific conditions are that the city of Dunwoody be allowed to use the triangular piece of land that is part of the Transwestern project site above the western MARTA parking deck as a park at such time that the city should so choose; and that the city and General Growth Properties, owners of Perimeter Mall, continue working together to develop Perimeter Park.
That triangular piece of property is a fenced-off strip of trees along a wide concrete drainage ditch just north of the MARTA station and extending to the Perimeter Station shopping center. The area is bordered by Perimeter Center Parkway to the west and the back end of Perimeter Mall to the east.
The idea for the park that runs underneath the MARTA tracks goes back several years. The Perimeter Community Improvement Districts unveiled draft plans for the park in 2014 that included walking paths and bridges over a stream.
“As we get more development in this market, Perimeter does not have a central park. We are not able to achieve our full potential without a park,” said Commissioner Bob Dallas at the Aug. 9 meeting.
“The development that is coming is Class A stuff, supported by transit. For me, this is the right place for a park. This density is necessary that we have a park,” he said.
Bill Baker, general manager of Perimeter Mall, told commissioners he recently had lunch with Mayor Denis Shortal, City Manager Eric Linton and PCID CEO Yvonne Williams to discuss the proposed park.
General Growth and Perimeter Mall own some of the land where the park is located, but one parcel is owned by an anchor store, Baker said.
“We want to assure the commission we are not just sitting still on this,” he said. “But it’s not as easy as, ‘Yep, this is a great idea, here’s our land.’ The end game is we all want this to be a great thing for the city.
“We are in support of a park being built, but [we have to determine] the ownership of the land, the maintenance, the liability,” he said.
Baker said the mall is open-minded about a park nearby, but said it must be noted that the site is located under the MARTA tracks and trains are running every 15 minutes.
“As we plan the park, we have to make sure it is going to be usable. The last thing we want to do is build something … and there be challenges with the MARTA train overhead,” Baker said.
Transwestern is buying a 4-acre unused corner of the Perimeter Mall parking lot for its tower from General Growth Properties. As part of the deal, General Growth will buy MARTA out of its lease of the parking deck closest to the mall; that lease expires in 2017.
Transwestern will then buy the parcel and the parking deck from General Growth, said Trent Germano, senior managing director of development for Transwestern.
The office tower will be about 356,000 square feet, with 13,000 square feet for retail. A restaurant and shops are planned for the ground floor.
There will be a five-level parking deck as part of the building’s construction.
The office building is a speculative project, meaning it currently has no signed-on tenants.
The Dunwoody Development Authority earlier this month approved $130 million in revenue bonds for the Transwestern project.