By John Schaffner

Kirbo Property Services and Childress Klein Properties suffered a setback in its plans to purchase and redevelop the Coronet Club property at 5275 Roswell Road when the Sandy Springs Design Review Board (DRB) voted unanimously Feb. 27 to deny plans for the proposed mixed-use development.

The developer, Tom Kirbo of Kirbo Property Services, had told neighboring residents and DRB members that in order to purchase the property and close the Coronet Club, a strip club that caters to both men and women, the property needed to be rezoned from C-1 (Community Business District) to MIX (Mixed Use District).

The plans were to demolish the existing club and build a new development on the land that would consist of a four-story, 72,000-square-foot building on the front of the property—retail/service commercial businesses on the first floor and offices above—and two five-story buildings behind that with 182 “luxury” apartments, around a courtyard that would have parking below.

The developer had agreed to conform to the city’s 60-foot height limitation on buildings, was providing a 40-foot setback from the Roswell Road, was leaving 40 percent of the property undisturbed on the back, which provides a buffer between the development and the adjacent residential neighborhood, had engaged a traffic engineering firm to study the effects on Roswell Road and recommend solutions had agreed to handle storm water detention underground.

The sticking point with DRB members and surrounding residents was the fact the density of the project far exceeds that allowable for that area under the existing city land use plan.

Kirbo pointed out that the front of the land was originally zoned in the late 1970s a Chi-Chi restaurant and the back is already zoned for four-story office buildings. He expressed the need for the planned density in order to make the project economically feasible. He said the market for the residential component would be young, single professionals.

The residential neighbors, as well as the owner of the commercial property immediately north of the Coronet Club tract, disagreed and suggested Kirbo should consider alternative plans.

Nearby resident Janet Wells, who lives on Beechland Drive, told the board members she had suggested to Kirbo developing the property with high-end, boutique retail or possibly a garden-style hotel. She didn’t want the buildings to exceed two-stories in height.

Tom Wells, who lives at 302 Beechland Drive, brought up the concerns over the added traffic from the project, which he said would be 2,280 car trips per day. He said a full traffic study should be done.

Another nearby neighbor, Mark Samples joined several residents at the podium to reinforce that the proposed plan doesn’t meet either the suggested usage or the density of the city’s land use plan.

When the discussion turned to the board members, Yvonne Rizzo summed up her feelings by stating the developers and residents should talk further and “the plan should be redone.”

DRB Vice Chairman Andy Porter, also a developer, told the residents and board members that this property will not be developed with boutique retail in front and two-story office buildings in back, because it is not economically feasible considering the cost of the land.

Following that, Porter moved to deny the development plan as proposed and the board voted unanimously to do just that. Next, the Kirbo plan is scheduled to be discussed at the Planning Commission meeting March 15 at

7 p.m.