A proposed massive mixed-use development on Perimeter Center East is raising several concerns about traffic and density from the Dunwoody City Council.
Grubb Properties made its first presentation of its proposed project, located on the site of the former City Hall, to the City Council Feb. 12. The project includes six residential buildings ranging in height from 12 to 16 stories and totaling 1,200 units, as well as a 19-story office tower.
The proposed mixed-use development also includes four parking decks, 12,000 square feet of new retail on the ground level of the buildings along with a central 2-acre park as well as trails and bike paths. Plans are for the project to be divided into several phases and completely built out over a 10- to 15-year span.
Grubb is seeking to rezone the 19.5-acre tract at 41, 47, 53 Perimeter Center East from office institution to a Perimeter Center 2 district as defined in the recently approved Perimeter Center overlay district. The developer is also asking for three special land use permits.
John Olson, planner with the Community Development Department, said the project aligns with the city’s goal of transitioning the area from a suburban regional center to an urban, walkable and livable mixed-use environment.
Grubb would extend the existing southbound left-turn lane on the northern intersection of Perimeter Center East and Ashford-Dunwoody Road to mitigate the already congested Ashford-Dunwoody Road traffic in the area.
Councilmember Terry Nall noted that the entire project includes a total of 1.7 million square feet but with only the minimal traffic improvement of one turn lane.
“State Farm is 2.2 million square feet … and they did a lot of road improvements,” he said. “Are we asking enough of traffic improvement for a project this size? It’s a massive project. Shouldn’t we at a minimum be looking at both turn lanes?”
Public Works Director Michael Smith explained that while rush-hour traffic is heavy on Ashford-Dunwoody Road, the Grubb project’s traffic is expected to be more evenly distributed throughout the day due to its mixed-use nature.
Councilmember Tom Lambert said the vision outlined in the Perimeter Center overlay district states there should be “limited residential” use in the area.
“We’re looking at 1,200 residential units here. By no stretch of the imagination is that limited residential,” he said. He asked if Grubb Properties would be willing to lower that number.
Clay Grubb, CEO of Grubb Properties, said that the project is not coming into the city and “trying to change the neighborhood overnight,” as it would be built out over more than a decade. He said he is open to conversation about the number of units.
David Kirk of Troutman Sanders, attorney for Grubb Properties, also noted that people working at the State Farm regional headquarters and other new Perimeter Center offices will need places to live.
By having people live close to their work and providing amenities such as restaurants and shopping close by, more people may walk and ride bikes in the area, Kirk added.
Grubb Properties is proposing to extend biking and walking trails within its development to connect its residents to the mall and retail in the area as well as continue its office shuttle service to the Dunwoody MARTA Station.
“I happen to think 1,200 units is too much for the area already inundated with residential units,” Councilmember Lynn Deutsch said. There is an 87-unit townhome development under construction to the east of the project site, and five-story apartment complexes to the north and west of the site.
Grubb Properties is promising that 900 of the units will be owner-occupied and 300 will be rental.
Grubb Properties is also proposing plans to renovate the 6-story office building that housed City Hall (41 Perimeter Center East) and the 6-story office building immediately to the southwest (47 Perimeter Center East) to include ground level retail. Along the south portion of the site, closer to I-285, the developer plans to demolish the 5-story office building (53 Perimeter Center East) to construct the 19-story office tower.
No one from the public showed up to the meeting to speak against the proposed development.
Robert Wittenstein, former Dunwoody Homeowners Association president, who worked with Grubb Properties during its planning, spoke in favor and said Dunwoody needs high-rise development in the city.
“I know of empty-nesters who moved to Buckhead because they wanted highrise living. This kind of development is important,” he said.
The Planning Commission unanimously approved recommending the project in December.
The council is expected to discuss and vote on the development at its next meeting on Feb. 26.
If the project is approved, construction could begin as soon as this summer.