Before the City Council hears arguments Wednesday about rezoning the corner, residents and developers will hash out the details during a town hall meeting at 5 p.m. tonight at city hall.
The meeting was a requirement from the Planning Commission after a first round of votes Tuesday night failed to give a recommendation to the council.
The vote was 2-2, with Commissioner Jason Waters, who is running for the Marietta Board of Education, and Commissioner Cheryl Richardson, an attorney in Marietta, against. Commissioner John Schupp, a developer who represents the area being discussed, was absent.
A second try on the recommendation, which stipulated the developers and concerned residents must discuss concerns within a week, passed 4-0.
Councilman Andy Morris, who attended the Planning Commission meeting and represents the area, said he has not made a decision about the project and would not comment about the plan before a hearing on the case next week.
“I just have to listen to everything and make my decision at that time,” Morris said.
The location was once the dream spot for the Sunrise Senior Living company headquartered in McLean, Virginia that pulled out of the development after an accounting scandal and near bankruptcy.
The City Council had approved that zoning in April 2008, after months of residents pushing hard for changes to the building plans.
Developer touts past projects
Elliott Hollander of Hollander Properties LLC, an Atlanta-based real estate investment firm, said he has been developing and operating similar facilities for years, including two senior-living communities in Georgia near Athens and in Sandy Springs.
The 4-acre site is sitting vacant after most of it was cleared in 2008. Hollander said he has assembled three properties, owned by Gil Shir of Atlanta, Marquerite Wilder of Clarksville and Juanita Miller Thomas of Marietta, and will purchase the lots if the zoning change is approved.
Most of the acreage is zoned as single-family residential and retail commercial, but the request to the Planning Commission was to move all of the land to office institutional.
Hollander’s proposal was for a 76,000-square-foot, three-story building, including an Alzheimer’s-care wing, which would house 90 beds in 67 units. This would be above the allowed 20 beds per acre, or 79 beds for this plan, which would require a variance from the city.
If approved, construction would begin in January 2014 and take about a year to complete, Hollander said. He would not disclose the cost for building the facility, saying Hollander Properties is still accepting bids from general contractors on the project.
Project would generate traffic ‘bottlenecks’
Pat Davis, a former real estate agent in Cobb County, who built her townhome in 2006 at 811 Mountain View Terrace, spoke out against the development Tuesday. Her town home overlooks the eastside of the property, which is close to the parking area, Dumpsters and retention pond outlined in the developer’s plans.
“They have moved right on top of us,” Davis said.
She said the proposed senior-living center would be overbearing and is twice as big as the area can accommodate.
An analysis by the city’s Public Works Department reported that the 100 beds should generate 274 vehicle trips per day, in an already congested area that only has two-lane roads to accommodate traffic.
“This development stands to impact the nearby roadways that already experience severe traffic bottlenecks in the late afternoon and evening,” according to the analysis.
It goes on to stipulate that Hollander would be required to construct a 6-foot-wide sidewalk along Burnt Hickory Road and Polk Street.
Developer says project more appealing than a gas station
Hollander said the southwest corner on Polk Street would remain a large green space and that the senior living center is much more appealing than a commercial business, such as a gas station.
Businesses around the property include a Kroger grocery store to the west and a shopping center to the south.
Hollander said the senior-living center could stabilize the area and beautify the corner with up-scale architecture, not to mention employing 25 to 50 people and increasing Marietta’s tax base.
Other residents who spoke in opposition at the Planning Commission meeting said there are already two other senior care facilities near their neighborhood.
Hollander said the two closest are Winnwood Retirement Community at 100 Whitlock Ave., which is more of an independent-living retirement community that opened 13 years ago, and the Marietta Living Center at 447 Atlanta St., which is a low-quality converted hotel.
“If you look at the property you can see it wasn’t built for that purpose,” Hollander said. “My property is going to be a five-star property.”
Hollander said his business would cater to a high-end demographic and that Marietta is a great market for senior care because of an increasing need to meet the demand of an aging community.
Davis said she wants the development to be sensitive to the community that has struggled through the bad economy with foreclosures and short sales on homes.
“Once that goes in, that is forever,” Davis said.