The Dunwoody City Council met with skepticism the first presentation of a reworked development plan for 84 Perimeter Center East.
The property is situated at the corner of Ashford-Dunwoody Road and Perimeter Center East on about 2.86 acres. The development, which was first approved as a 12-story hotel by the council back in 2019, is now being submitted as an age-restricted, multi-family apartment complex.
Plans for the hotel were scrapped due to the effect the pandemic has had on the hospitality industry. Councilmembers said at their Jan. 11 meeting that plans for the new structure were more different from the original property than expected.
“This was presented to us as, ‘Well, we’re just kind of swapping out a hotel for a residential component,’” Councilmember Tom Lambert said. “It appears to be significantly more than that. In scope, the footprint and design all seem to be very different.”
Lambert pointed out some changes to the retail portion of the structure, including the lack of open spaces and smaller area. John DiGiovanni, a representative of property owner JSJ Perimeter LLC, said developers were forced to extend the residential side into the retail area when the project switched from a hotel to apartments.
“In order to get the number of multi-family units that we have to get economically to make it work, we had to extend it,” DiGiovanni said.
DiGiovanni stressed the development might look different when it’s actually built, depending on which retailers decide to come to the table.
JSJ Perimeter LLC requested four land-use permits, including a request to increase the limit of impervious coverage for the development from 65% to 85%. Restrictions on impervious coverage are in place to reduce the amount of surfaces, such as concrete or pavement, that prevent the absorption of rainwater, causing damage to the environment.
Before the council hearing, the Dunwoody Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the rezoning and all four land-use permits. But the City Council appeared more cautious, particularly about increasing the impervious coverage.
The applicants pointed out that 86% impervious coverage was previously approved for the site in 2008.
“With all due respect, I don’t necessarily concern myself with what was approved in 2008,” Lambert said. “I’m talking about 2021 here.”
Laurel David, an attorney for JSJ Perimeter LLC, pointed out that a request to increase the limit for impervious coverage was also approved last year for the site.
“Don’t forget, we are providing a public road to an adjoining property,” she said. “That, plus the extensive streetscape improvements that will be made, which will also be available to the public — which is of course all hardscape — should be taken into consideration when evaluating this special use permit.”
Councilmember Joe Seconder also expressed concern over the request to increase impervious coverage and requested the developer come back with plans to decrease that percentage
“What can we do to limit [or] reduce the heat map, look at the reduction of that,” Seconder said. “And just increase green wherever you can, if it’s on the roof or wherever. If you could look at that, that would be greatly appreciated.”
Some council members also expressed concerns about the age-restricted nature of the development. Councilmember Stacey Harris asked how the restriction works if a 55-year-old person has a child or grandchild living with them.
According to the federal Fair Housing Act, one of two conditions must be met for age-restricted housing that is not assisted living. Either all occupants must be over the age of 62, or 80% of the occupied units have to have someone over the age of 55 living in them. Those occupants could have a younger spouse, child or grandchild also living in the unit. The other 20% of occupied units can be filled with residents of any age.
Lambert and other members of the council also expressed concern over the lack of architectural renderings in their packets and the wording of one of the Planning Commission’s conditions for approval. Condition 19 stated that the completed architectural drawing is to be submitted to the City Council for consideration, but Lambert worried that wouldn’t give the council the ability to approve or deny something that wasn’t to its liking.
“Everything that we’ve talked about tonight is subject to change,” Lambert said. “All too often when we have these kinds of projects come up, the actual product that comes out of the earth is not always very close to what was presented to us. And I’m not comfortable approving something that I don’t know what it’s going to look like.”
The proposal will be back in front of the City Council for a second hearing and possible vote in two weeks.