The former Boys & Girls Club building on North Druid Hills Road has been torn down with future redevelopment plans for the site unclear.
An excavator was on site July 5 at 1330 North Druid Hills Road with the building structure torn down and large piles of rubble and debris stacked up. The sand volleyball courts are also being demolished.
The Boys & Girls Club finalized its controversial sale of the property last month to Ashton Woods. Ashton Woods has plans to build 54 townhomes, eight detached single-family lots and 10 “manor home” units, but is involved in a legal dispute with the city over the development. The building and site were demolished due to vandalism and trespassing, according to Carl Westmoreland, attorney for Ashton Woods.
The City Council approved in December rezoning the 6 acres of the site from R-75 (single-family residential) to RM-100 (multi-family residential). But the Zoning Board of Appeals in April denied several requested variances on setbacks because members said Ashton did not prove significant hardship.
Ashton has appealed the ZBA’s decision in DeKalb County Superior Court. Westmoreland has said the developer cannot build the project the council approved without also having the setback variances approved. He said Ashton is still looking to redevelop the site.
The city is currently undertaking a zoning rewrite that includes allowing for concurrent variances. Concurrent variances would allow the City Council to decide on a rezoning and its variances at the same time rather than having a developer go to the ZBA to seek variances.
The demolitions permits were applied for in March and approved in May, according to city spokesperson Ann Marie Quill. Demolition can occur whether or not any development is proposed.
A land disturbance permit revision was submitted last week and is currently under review. The revision meets the requirements of the approved rezoning and the one variance approved, to eliminate the buffer zone. Stormwater remediation is also part of the approved project.
The layout of the project – the number and mix of units approved in December — remains the same, Quill said.
There has been considerable backlash from residents living in the neighborhoods around the former Boys & Girls Club against the proposed development. Some say the housing mix does not fit in with the character area study that calls for protecting, preserving and maintaining single-family neighborhoods. Others say the development sets a precedent for higher-density development on North Druid Hills Road.
The original site plan submitted to the city in July included 74 townhomes before being modified after community meetings to 64 townhomes. Within the 64 units were a five-unit “manor house,” or condo building. The condo units would range in size from 900 to 1,400 square feet and cost approximately $300,000, to accommodate Mayor John Ernst’s request to Ashton for more affordable housing.
In October, however, the Planning Commission recommended denying approval of the project because of the density and concerns it did not fit in with the character area of the Brookhaven Heights and Brookhaven Fields neighborhoods.
After receiving a deferral from the council, the developer went back to the drawing board and came up with the final plan in December that did get approval — a development including 54 townhomes, eight detached single-family lots and 10 “manor home” units.
The Boys & Girls Club closed its Brookhaven location in December to open a new, bigger facility at 2880 Dresden Drive in Chamblee. Most families who attended the Brookhaven club have relocated to the new facility, according to spokesperson Melanie Buckmaster. The club was in Brookhaven for some 40 years.
“It was bittersweet to leave the Brookhaven Boys & Girls Club location as we made so many memories there over the years,” Buckmaster said.