MARIETTA — Citing mixed-use mega-projects like the The Battery Atlanta (Cobb), Revel (Gwinnett) and Avalon (Alpharetta), attorney Kevin Moore told Cobb Planning Commissioners that retail department stores “aren’t built anymore.”
“What is being constructed, to high acclaim to great success,” he said, “are true mixed-use developments, where you integrate residential, multifamily, senior, retail and office into one integrated development.”
Moore’s client, Pope & Land Real Estate, has proposed such a project for north Cobb, albeit at a smaller scale: it wants to build up to 300 multifamily apartments, 180 senior apartments, 179 town homes, a four-story hotel, a grocery store, ground-floor retail and office space on land off Chastain Road, just east of Interstate 575.
Planning Commissioners were unswayed, however. With one abstention, they were unanimous in their rejection of the developer’s request to rezone the land in question.
The Planning Commission is a body that is only able to make recommendations — it cannot itself deny an application. But its recommendation is one of the key things the county’s governing body, the Board of Commissioners, will consider when they decide the project’s fate on Nov. 12 meeting.
Since planning commissioners had last seen the project, in August, the heights of the buildings had been reduced. The number of residential units did not decrease, but retail space dropped from 150,000 square feet to 100,000, office space dropped from 190,000 square feet to 50,000 and the number of hotel rooms dropped from 250 to 200.
Overall, Moore said, the project’s density was reduced by 40% since it was first proposed. But planning commissioners were still concerned with the scope of the project, lamenting the fact that it wasn’t even smaller.
“We want a community here where you could do what they call the living, working, walking kind of environment, but with the intensity of it, it was almost gonna make it impossible,” said Planning Commissioner Chair Judy Williams.
“I would love to have seen something that would have had more of a mix of town homes in it,” Planning Commissioner Fred Beloin said. “It’s just unfortunate we sometimes can’t quite get to a sale, or a deal, and it seems like we’re there again.”
“The county needs this kind of development on this parcel,” Planning Commissioner Skip Gunther said. “But the intensity of this is just way too much, and it’s from my point of view a sad decision we have to make.”
Some in the audience who live near the proposed development addressed the commissioners during the meeting.
Erin Mulgrew, of the Bells Ferry Civic Association, called the density of 10.2 units per acre “incredibly high.”
Linda Bowman, speaking on behalf of nearby communities, said it would have a negative affect on property values, citing friends who have been unable to sell homes for their desired price after putting them on the market.
Walter Bryan, who owns an office directly across from the site, said it would make already poor traffic flow even worse.
Commissioners had other cases before them Tuesday.
They voted to postpone making a recommendation regarding a project submitted by Embry Development Company, which, as presented, included 51 attached houses on about 10 acres on Cooper Lake Road near Summerlin Lake.
According to a stipulation letter submitted by Moore, who is also representing the developer in this case, the houses will be a minimum of 2,000 square feet and feature two-car garages. All will be made available for sale, and no more than 10% will be rented out at any one time.
The project had been reduced from its initial 62 units, but Planning Commissioner Galt Porter wanted it reduced even further, suggesting Embry remove two of the houses. Among his other suggestions were increasing the size of the homes’ driveways.
Other projects set to come before the board were also postponed:
A subdivision of 20 houses on about five acres along Mableton Parkway, about a half mile south of its intersection with Veterans Memorial Highway.
A three-story hotel in Kennesaw with 118 rooms. “The hotel is designed for the traveler,” the application reads, “at a lower rate than the Marriott and Hilton Inn hotels, without the swimming pool and large meeting rooms.”