By David Pendered
A mixed-use project of the type that abounded in metro Atlanta until the recent recession is shaping up on Roswell Road, right on the border of Atlanta and Sandy Springs.
JBL Builders has scraped two apartment complexes off the site and earthmovers on Tuesday were preparing the site for new apartments, retail and office space. Gov. Nathan Deal announced last week the state would provide Sandy Springs with a grant of $750,000 to help pay for the $3 million-plus realignment of Windsor Parkway at its intersection with Roswell Road.
The Chastain project spans about 22 acres and is located about 2 miles south of the storied Prado shopping center, which was redeveloped in 2008. The community has responded to both the projects in much the same way – generally glad to see the old buildings removed, and apprehensive about future traffic.
The two apartment complexes that were removed had been criminal hot spots for years. Local authorities flipped the script before the Chastain and Versailles apartments were demolished, using the vacant structures as training facilities to practice hostage recoveries and rescues from buildings filled with smoke.
The property originally rolled downhill, and out of sight, from Roswell Road and the ridgeline on which it was built. The new development will be closer to street level once the site work is complete.
MARTA reported that its bus service along Roswell Road has the capacity to meet future demands of the new project. MARTA’s main concern was that but stops be relocated to provide safe havens for awaiting passengers, according to its statement that is part of the development of regional impact review conducted by the Atlanta Regional Commission.
Deal announced the state funding for the Windsor Parkway project on May 28. It is part of a package of $33 million in grants for 20 projects funded through the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank. According to the section on Windsor Parkway:
- “This project will realign Windsor Parkway to the north of its current intersection and will include the addition of two westbound left turn lanes, one through-right turn lane and increased signal separation from West Wieuca Road. The project will improve safety, reduce travel delay and provide connectivity among adjacent land uses. This will be accomplished through the removal of split-phase signal timing and the addition of turn lanes, sidewalks and pedestrian crossings. The GTIB grant award is $750,000.”
Atlanta’s planning department also reviewed and commented on the project, even though it is outside Atlanta’s corporate limits. The development actually is in an area that Atlanta once sought to annex, prompting a cityhood effort that resulted in the creation of the City of Sandy Springs.
In addressing Atlanta’s interests, Josh Mello, Atlanta’s former assistant planning director for transportation, wrote:
- “We recognize that most of this site is located outside the City of Atlanta city limits. However, we believe that trips to and from this development will terminate within the City of Atlanta and that many of these trips will impact the roadway network within the City of Atlanta.”
Mello urged for the project to provide ample amenities for bicycle riders and pedestrians, and for well-designed access to West Wieuca Road, which forms the southern border of the property.
The new development is slated to open in two phases, in 2015 and 2017, according to the development of regional impact review completed by the Atlanta Regional Commission.
The residential component of the project has been scaled back since the DRI was approved, in September 2012. The number of apartments has been scaled back, from 700 to 630. The units still are to be built to a condo quality. Prices are slated to begin above $1,500 a month.
In its review of the project as a development of regional impact, the Atlanta Regional Commission observed that the Chastain mixed-use project generally supports the redevelopment plan of the Roswell Road corridor south of I-285:
- “The proposed Chastain mixed-use development includes a mix of complimentary uses, multiple access points and aligns at least one new driveway with an existing roadway. Additionally, the development proposes to place the majority of its parking in parking decks that are wrapped or behind commercial buildings so that most parking is screened from view. The site plan also shows a bike and pedestrian path along the Roswell Road frontage.
- “The proposed development sits on the city limits of Sandy Springs and the city of Atlanta. It is bordered by commercial and residential uses in an area that primarily consists of arterial commercial and single–family residential, with some infill and redevelopment occurring in the area.”