The developer seeking to replace a shopping center and nonprofits with a storage facility on Sandy Springs’ Northwood Drive has told concerned tenants that the state’s I-285 toll lanes plan will require the building’s demolition no matter what. But the Georgia Department of Transportation says no such decision has been made and that the building likely could remain.

Brandon Ellison of developer Taylor/Theus said an Aug. 19 community meeting at the 120 Northwood Drive site that GDOT wants part of the property for its future toll lanes project and recently tripled the size of the estimate land-taking, which includes the building.

“With the second taking that [GDOT] gave us, this building is going down one way or another,” Grayson said.

A conceptualized photo presented by Taylor/Theus Holdings, Inc. for the proposed self-storage plan at 120 Northwood Drive in Sandy Springs.

Woody Galloway, the project’s attorney, later repeated claim of GDOT forcing a displacement in an email to the Reporter. “Thus, all of the tenants will have to vacate the building regardless of whether Taylor/Theus is approved or not,” Galloway said.

But GDOT Communications Director Natalie Dale said there are no solid plans for right of way for the toll lanes project, and that the current rough estimate shows the building likely could stay. And GDOT only made the estimate because the developer asked, she said.

“Project designs are still in various stages of development so no final decisions have been made about what the right of way needs will be,” Dale said. “…We don’t believe that the current building would need to be acquired, but an impact study would need to be done to further determine what potential impacts to the parcel would be.”

She also said there have been no negotiations with the developer about land acquisition.

“However, since we were approached by the developer about the redevelopment plans that have been submitted to the city, those are the plans we were responding to,” Dale added.

Dale also says that GDOT is not in negotiation with any neighboring property owners.

The shopping center currently on the site is home to several business, a church and three social-service nonprofits: the Community Assistance Center, La Amistad and Los Niños Primero.

The developer has designed office space for the three nonprofits into its self-storage facility design, and will have some retail space that some of the existing businesses might be able to move into.

City staff will present the proposal to the Planning Commission at an Aug. 27 meeting. It is recommended for approval, according to a city staff report.

Hannah Greco

Hannah Greco is writer and media communications specialist based in Atlanta.