An 88-acre mixed-use project in Tucker will not be rising up anytime soon after city council members cast a series of votes to deny the permissions needed to go ahead with construction.
The Rise, a multi-million dollar plan by developer Stephen Macauley of Macauley Investments, promised to bring a supermarket, retail and about 700 residential units to the intersection of Hugh Howell Road and Mountain Industrial Boulevard. The site is currently home to warehouse space owned by Sears.
Before the final votes were cast Wednesday, an overflow crowd of Tucker citizens expressed both support and disapproval of the project to city council members.
Resident and supporter Virginia Rece said while she didn’t feel the current plan was perfect, she did view it as a bridge to bring more cohesion to downtown Tucker and the Smoke Rise community, which was incorporated when the city was officially formed. “I’ve been a supporter almost from the beginning. I’ve asked Stephen tough questions, spent hours researching and talked to critics. Stephen met with me when he didn’t know me to talk to me about the project and asked what I wanted to see in my community. He wants to revitalize communities. He’s improved his design for us and he has a plan on the table that isn’t perfect but is ready and can be improved,” she said.
Detractors of the project, however, pointed out that the project does against the city’s current comprehensive plan for the area with more residences and could cause destruction to a rare old growth forest in the northern part of the proposed construction area.
“I’m speaking against the development and requesting denial for the comprehensive plan amendment because we’re seeing industrial designated properties diminish throughout DeKalb County except for this Mountain Industrial corridor,” said Charlton Allen at the meeting. “The building there are not dilapidated and there is value in the way the buildings and land are currently designated.”
After a lengthy public hearing, city council had to weigh three petitions from developer Stephen Macauley, including a change to the comprehensive plan to allow such a development and a rezoning of the property from light industrial to town center designation and a special land use permit (SLUP) to allow a personal care home to be constructed on the site. Citing a number of concerns, including the possibility of disrupting the industrial corridor, the council voted 5-2 against a motion to approve the comprehensive plan amendment. That was followed by a pair of 6-1 votes to deny the re-zoning and SLUP petitions.
During the meeting, both council members and the developer pointed out that, despite a denial, the property can still be developed by right – or without the special permissions being sought from the city. Under the current zoning, that could mean construction of restaurants, a movie theater and several other aspects included in The Rise proposal. It would not permit construction of the residential facilities or the supermarket included in the proposal.
Tucker’s city council will meet next on September 11 at the city hall annex at 4228 First Avenue.