The Dunwoody Planning Commission is again recommending approval of a project to add a hotel, restaurants and shops at 11 Ravinia Parkway in Perimeter Center after the City Council sent the project back last month for more vetting, including review of a traffic study.
But the developers’ decision to reduce the project’s density by lowering the height of the hotel and retail shops to address council concerns about density and traffic was met with resistance from commissioners. Perimeter Center is where high-density, high-end projects are supposed to go, they said.
“If traffic is the issue I don’t know if its going to be solved by reducing the density of this project,” Chair Bob Dallas said at the Planning Commission’s Oct. 15 meeting. “That to me is key point … density creates value.”
The project site is now about 4 acres of a grassy hill surrounded by trees at Ashford-Dunwoody Road and I-285. The original site plan included an 8-story hotel with more than 270 rooms and four restaurant and retail buildings. Two of the retail buildings were to be 2 stories tall and the others 1 story.
After hearing City Council ask questions about traffic, the developers decided to lower the hotel to 5 stories and 156 rooms and build only 1-story restaurant and retail buildings. A proposed rooftop restaurant would not be counted as a second story, according to the city.
Kathy Zickert, an attorney for the developers, said her clients were trying to address City Council concerns by reducing density.
“By making this smaller, we are responding to council comments,” she told the Planning Commission. “We’re kind of caught a little bit. This is the direction we thought the council wanted us to take.”
The PC-2 district in Perimeter Center allows for building heights up to 30 stories, city staff said when asked by a commissioner about the density allowed in Perimeter Center.
In their unanimous vote to recommend rezoning for the project, Planning Commission members voted to recommend developers go back to the original plan and build an 8-story hotel with 275 rooms and allow restaurants and retail be built up to 2 stories.
The project first got the Planning Commission’s OK in July to rezone the area from office, commercial, residential (OCR) to Perimeter Center 2 (PC-2).
But in September, in a surprise move, the City Council sent the project back to commissioners after learning they did not have a traffic study to consider as part of their deliberations in July.
The City Council is expected to consider a first presentation of the renewed project in November and a final vote on the rezoning could come in December.