An Atlanta homebuilder is proposing another upscale project in Buckhead’s Garden Hills neighborhood, located near its controversial redevelopment that earlier this year sparked discussion around affordable housing.

Hedgewood Homes has submitted plans to redevelop just under one acre on Sheridan Drive. The project would replace low-rise apartment buildings at 77, 81 and 87 Sheridan Drive with 12 single-family homes or townhouses. The residences would range from $750,000 to $1.2 million, according to the application. See the site plan here.

Neighborhood Planning Unit-B deferred hearing the project at its July 6 meeting. 

“We’re still having discussions with the Garden Hills neighborhood,” Laurel David, partner with The Galloway Law Group, said on Wednesday. David is the attorney representing Hedgewood Homes.

“When we resolve those, then it will go back before the NPU. But, I don’t have a specific time on that right now,” David said.

Hedgewood Homes is the same developer behind a controversial plan to build 35 single-family homes at 69 Delmont Drive, near the new project. That development will demolish 20 of the 22 units at the Delmont Townhomes, a circa-1940s complex with both onsite owners and renters. 

The project was criticized by some for depleting affordable housing in Buckhead, where home prices soar well over $1 million in many areas and rents continue to climb. The adjacent Atlanta International School (AIS) was a vocal opponent of the development and tried to buy the site itself but was only able to obtain one of the existing townhomes.

Kevin Glass, head of school for AIS, in May wrote a column for Reporter Newspapers about why housing affordability mattered to the school.

The rezoning for the Delmont Drive project had won approval in April with 21 conditions from the neighborhood.

NPU-B at its July 6 meeting voted to recommend approval of variances necessary for that project to move forward, including front yard setbacks. But it wasn’t without discussion.

NPU-B member Kimberly Shorter was critical of the fact the variances were a separate voting matter from the rezoning.

“The lack of transparency is very concerning to me, and I don’t want this to set a precedent where developers think that they can get a rezoning and then come back a month later,” Shorter said. “Often we’ve seen where a rezoning would result in the need for variances and those are always discussed at the rezoning package hearing very clearly and cleanly, so the board knows exactly what we are and are not approving.”

Don Donnelly, co-owner of Hedgewood Homes, said he spent two months working with the Garden Hills neighborhood on the plan, which previously called for townhomes.

“By pushing things out a little bit, it gives us the ability to detach every house, so they are not townhomes,” Donnelly said, defending the setbacks needed for the project. “They are fee-simple, freestanding homes, and the neighbors appreciate that. We worked with them for, like I said, two months. A lot of this back and forth didn’t make it to the Buckhead NPU, and we are kind of paying for that now.”

Amy Wenk

Amy Wenk is Editor of Reporter Newspapers. She can be reached at editor@reporternewspapers.net