Pace Academy’s plan to replace the Lower School building on its Buckhead campus is heading for city review with an approval recommendation from NPU-A.

The approval for the change at the 966 West Paces Ferry Road campus came after the private school agreed to drop a controversial plan to build a new natatorium as well, according to NPU-A chair Brink Dickerson.

An illustration of Pace Academy’s proposed new Lower School building. (Special)

Pace spokesperson Caitlin Goodrich Jones declined to discuss detailed plans or long-term campus plans pending city approvals of the Lower School project.

The current plan would replace the existing Randall Building, which dates to 1951, with a new structure at West Paces Ferry and Rilman roads. With a peaked roofline and stone façade, the new Lower School building would echo the style of Pace’s trademark main building, known as “The Castle.”

The new Lower School building would not expand enrollment, and driveway locations would remain the same, according to plans filed with the city.

For the project, Pace needs two approvals. One is an amendment to its special use permit to operate the school, which is expected to go before the Zoning Review Board in March. The other is a zoning variance for height, 39 feet instead of the 35 feet allowed by code, which is expected to go before the Board of Zoning Adjustment in April.

NPU-A voted to support both requests at its Feb. 5 meeting, following an agreement with the West Paces Neighborhood Association. That agreement followed months of negotiations over the more controversial part of the original proposal, according to Dickerson: demolishing the head of school’s house and another house front on West Paces Ferry to build the new natatorium, a structure containing a swimming pool.

Dickerson said in an email that “Pace badly misjudged community opposition” and that agreement came relatively quickly once the natatorium plan was dropped. However, he said, that proposal is likely to return in four or five years when a previous neighborhood agreement expires.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.