The halt to a large tax break for Brookhaven’s controversial Dresden Village development is being welcomed by officials and residents who opposed it.
“Right now, I’m just glad the abatement is off the table,” said DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader, who represents part of Brookhaven, of the withdrawal of the deal.
Ricardo Kamenetzky, who represented Brookhaven Fields in a combined neighborhood opposition, said that he was encouraged by the withdrawal from the developer.
He stressed that it was never the entire plan that had upset neighbors. It was the alteration of local streets and the large tax break.
Kamenetzky was also concerned that taxpayers would have to pay for legal fees for the city and county.
“We’ll see what they come back with,” he said.
The city announced Nov. 18 that it was withdrawing a court petition for a tax break involving Dresden Village, a planned development on a 4-acre lot on Dresden Drive near Caldwell Road. The project is no longer “viable” for Connolly Investment & Development, according to a statement from city spokesperson Burke Brennan.
The development company intends to make unspecified changes to the plan and reintroduce it later, said J.R. Connolly II, the CEO. The company could not amend the current plan without withdrawing entirely, he said.
The proposal, which won approval in August from the Brookhaven Development Authority for a property tax break worth up to $13.5 million under the code name “Project X,” had strained the city’s relationship with DeKalb County, and drew criticism from at least one county commissioner who said the 22-year abatement was going to be an unnecessary drain on county and school system finances.
The development was valued at about $61 million, according to the development’s project documents. The City Council, which operates separately from the development authority, approved a rezoning plan for the project in 2017 but did not have to vote on the tax break.
But Rader said the authority is appointed by the council and ”are closely aligned with the city. He said the city used the tax break to avoid paying for infrastructure improvements involved in the development and instead passed the financial load to the county. The tax money lost comes out of the county coffers.
But Connolly has said the increased scope of the project with streetscape and traffic changes are what caused the company to request a tax abatement.
The changes would include creating a new extension of Green Meadow Lane — a residential street — past Caldwell Road to Dresden Drive. The plan also would eliminate a traffic light and pedestrian crossing at Dresden and Caldwell.
The tax abatement would help the developers create a quality project and not cut corners, said Shirlynn Brownell, the city’s director of economic development, in August of this year.
The project would have been a mix of more than 180 luxury apartments and seven condo townhomes with 30,000 square feet of retail shops and restaurants.
Rader said there are similar developments in the city that survived financially without a tax break from the city.