Residents look at map of the Peachtree Industrial Boulevard study area at a community input meeting held Feb. 27 at Crossroads Community Church. (Evelyn Andrews)

Residents at a community meeting said they would like to see more trails, green space and senior housing near Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Dunwoody, but are torn on how to address aging apartment complexes that are home to diverse, lower-income residents.

Residents provided input Feb. 27 on what development they would like to see in the Peachtree Industrial Boulevard area from I-285 to Winters Chapel Road. The city is conducting a small area study for that area that is intended to serve as a guide for future development.

“We are creating this to be ready when developers come to us. The city is not trying to redevelop the area,” Tom Lambert, the city council member for the area, said.

A map shows the study area outlined in blue and the amount of residential units in the area. (TSW/City of Dunwoody)

Officials presented a concept at the first project meeting held in December that floated a recommendation of replacing some of the older apartment complexes — home to nearly 1,900 households — with mixed-use projects.

That idea received some pushback, and officials are taking a step back in favor of letting residents voice what development they want to see on the corridor in the coming years, said Richard McLeod, the city’s community development director, at the start of the meeting.

“We don’t have anything planned for this area. We’re not tearing anybody’s apartments down. We just felt like this was a good opportunity to get community input on what you would like to see,” McLeod said.

About 50 people attended the input meeting, which was held at Crossroads Community Church.

The City Council in 2017 hired TSW, an Atlanta-based planning firm, for $40,000 to conduct the study. TSW is awaiting funding from the city council to do a market study, which would study the future demand in the area for different types of properties, said Adam Williamson, a consultant from TSW. Officials then plan to host another community meeting to present their findings before taking the study to city council. 

John Francis, a resident that attended the meeting, brought up concerns that the city is trying to get the apartments removed to have fewer low-income residents in Dunwoody.

“It’s the only lower-priced housing available in the city of Dunwoody. Are we just trying to run all the poor people off?” Francis said. 

Mayor Denis Shortal said the city does not have desire to get rid of the apartments, and the city is looking for input from residents on what they would like done with them.

Lambert also said he does not believe removing the apartments is the intent of the city.

“My perfect scenario is that new affordable housing is built there and that those residents would have a nice place to live,” he said.

The residents themselves differed on what should be done with the apartments. Carol Ross, a resident of the Lacota complex, which is in the study area, advocated that they not be removed.

“They’re not the nicest, but I’d rather have an apartment I can afford than have to move,” Ross said.

Ross said residents she spoke to that the meeting that had a different view were open to hearing her concerns.

“We can’t afford high end, but we’re still functioning members of the community,” said another resident who lives in one of the complexes.

Another resident proposed townhomes or sixplexes in place of the apartments.

“It’s not a movement to replace people, but if the market replaces the apartments, than we would want those types of properties,” he said.

“Hopefully, some of the apartments will come down. They are just in really bad shape,” another said.

Almost all the residents agreed on building more senior housing in the area, mostly near the Peachtree Industrial and I-285 interchange or farther north along Tilly Mill Road.

They also were in agreement on creating more greenspace and building more multi-use trails and sidewalks in the area to provide more connectivity.

Other ideas included building a high-end office building and more restaurants and retail space.

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