MARTA’s proposed Brookhaven Station development offers challenges, report says

By David Pendered

MARTA wants to engage a developer to build a live-work-play community in the 2-year-old city of Brookhaven, where a proposed 30-year plan appears to embrace dense urban development.

As MARTA seeks to develop its Brookhaven Station, the city of Brookhaven is poised to adopt a long-range plan that commends a similar development, Town Brookhaven, as a, "pedestrian friendly urban village." Credit: sembler.com

As MARTA seeks to develop its Brookhaven Station, the city of Brookhaven is poised to adopt a long-range plan that commends a similar development, Town Brookhaven, as a, “pedestrian friendly urban village.” Credit: sembler.com

MARTA is seeking developers for its Brookhaven Station. MARTA intends to develop homes, offices and shops on almost half the station’s sparsely used lot, and replace those parking spaces in structured parking.

The project may not be easy, according to a MARTA report that states: “The positive involvement of [Brookhaven and DeKalb County] could be a challenge to bring about. It will take careful negotiation and cooperation, of which ARC [Atlanta Regional Commission] could help facilitate. The largest hurdle, however, could be the participation of private money lenders.”

Brookhaven’s proposed Comprehensive Plan 2034 seems to support MARTA’s development concept. The proposed plan speaks in positive terms of three recently built mixed-use communities that embody the planners’ vision for dense developments in Brookhaven:

  • Town Brookhaven, which the Brookhaven plan describes as, “a 48 acre pedestrian-friendly urban village, which includes 460,000 sq. ft. of retail, 950 residential units, 20,000 sq. ft. of office, and 20 restaurants”;
  • The city of Brookhaven's proposed Comprehensive Plan 2034 cites MARTA's Brookhaven Station as a priority area for redevelopment. Credit: brookhavenga.gov

    The city of Brookhaven’s proposed Comprehensive Plan 2034 cites MARTA’s Brookhaven Station as a priority area for redevelopment. Credit: brookhavenga.gov

    Brookhaven Village, along the Dresden Drive corridor north of the Brookhaven Station, which the Brookhaven plan says is, “transforming into an urban boulevard with multi-family residential above street-lined retail. This development form provides retail, services, restaurants, and offices within walking distance of surrounding neighborhoods”;

  • Perimeter Summit, located in the Perimeter Mall area in the southwest quadrant of the intersection of I-285 and Ashford Dunwoody Road, is described as, “another mixed-use node in the community with office and multi-family housing.”

The Brookhaven City Council is slated to adopt Comprehensive Plan 2034 at its Nov. 18 meeting, following a final public hearing on Sept. 9. The plan was unveiled at a council meeting on Aug. 12.

Jacobs is serving as the project manager and lead consultant. Sycamore Consulting is coordinating public engagement and Market Street Services is overseeing economic development and demographics analysis.

For its part, MARTA has asked developers that are interested in the project to submit their qualifications by Sept. 18. MARTA will screen the responses and invite those that pass muster to submit their proposals at a later date.

The proposed Brookhaven Station development represents MARTA’s efforts to move forward with a two-fold plan to increase its revenues by developing land near a transit station. MARTA has long identified its Brookhaven Station as a candidate for development.

First, MARTA will make money through long-term leases on the ground beneath the planned development. A report prepared for MARTA says MARTA could expect to collect $640,000 a year by leasing 10 acres. The price presumes land values in the area of $1.6 million an acre, according to the report by Bleakly Advisory Group.

MARTA has provided this conceptual plan of the redevelopment of its Brookhaven Station. Credit: itsmarta.com

MARTA has provided this conceptual plan of the redevelopment of its Brookhaven Station. Credit: itsmarta.com

For developers, the benefit of entering a 99-year ground lease with MARTA is the lower cost of land. The lease rate of the ground lease would be 4 percent, compared to a debt rate of 6 percent if the developer were to finance a property purchase.

Second, MARTA expects a boost in ridership of its trains and buses once the development opens. That’s because a portion of the individuals who live in the homes, and work in or visit the commercial spaces, are expected to become transit passengers.

MARTA commissioned a market analysis in 2013 of potential development sites including the Brookhaven Station. The report determined the station could support the following components:

  • “Up to 10,000 square feet of retail and/or up to 15,000 square feet of office space;
  • “Up to 300 residential units, including apartments and condominiums; and
  • “62,000 square feet civic use.”

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

5 replies
  1. huunter01 says:

    There is one mistake in this article.  Its an ARC report not a MARTA report.   See the whole report at http://atlantaregional.com/File%20Library/Land%20Use/TOD/lu_tod_bleaklytodreport_2013_01_16.pdfReport

    Reply
  2. dwpendered
    dwpendered says:

    Thank you for your close read and for providing a link to additional information.
    I’ve updated the story with a link to the document used to report the story. The document is the request for qualifications that MARTA released. The RFQ was the source of information for this part of the story, though, as you note, this portion of the RFQ is part of a broader report.
    Best regards,
    DavidReport

    Reply
  3. Mike Morgan says:

    This is potentially one of the most important developments in Metro Atlanta in decades. A new and urbane downtown for Brookhaven, developed around mass transit at this key crossroads has the can be a great place to live, work and play if done well. The plan certainly needs to go beyond the basics of most of the other mixed use developments that have been scattered around lately and which are little more than glorified shopping malls. 
    It would be nice if the City and MARTA together can commission a world class designer to set the standards for this place rather than following a strictly design-build bid approach. Hopefully the developer submittals which are currently being sought by MARTA will include such a capable design team and be able to look beyond a five year flip when setting their quality standards.

    I do hope that the selection of the developer will include a primary goal of creating a unique and timeless signature for this spectacular location. The current MARTA concept plan indicates a continuance of the existing parking lot lining the intersection of Dresden Road and Peachtree Road. Note to developer team: surface parking is not the highest and best use for this signature location.Report

    Reply
  4. Bob Munger says:

    Approx. 1 year ago, our organization (a nonprofit devoted to Smart Growth and Sustainable Transport) participated in a 4-day design charrette focused on the Brookhaven Marta station and the impending TOD.  Southface and the Atlanta Regional Commission led the study, which included participation from City of Brookhaven officials and other stakeholders. 
    One of the key areas of discussion, in my opinion, is the need to elevate transit ridership (and walkability) by facilitating last mile connectivity for transit riders. This will not be achieved, IMO, by repeating failed, 20-century solutions like “providing enough parking.”  It WILL be achieved by encouraging and facilitating alternative forms of low speed transportation in the 1 or 2 mile radius around the MARTA Station. This means walking, biking, low speed EV.s, segways, carsharing, etc.
    The world of urban transport is fast evolving. Developers and planners would be well-advised to embrace the future and reject failed policies of the past.
    Bob Munger
    Augusta Greenway Alliance
    Sustainable Urban MobilityReport

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

What are your thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.