By John Schaffner

Residents of the Underwood Hills neighborhood on the southwestern edge of Buckhead have scheduled a meeting for concerned citizens Monday night, May 7, to discuss a strategy for contesting a proposed $98 million mixed-use development at 1011 Collier Road.

Eva Nason, who is the Underwood Hills representative to Neighborhood Planning Unit D, has organized the 7 p.m. meeting at the Northside Church of God, located at the corner of Harper Street and Defoor Avenue, and has invited residents in the Defoor Avenue/Bohler Road/West Collier Hills area of Buckhead to attend.

Earlier this year, Pollack Partners and landowner MK Management Company announced plans to build 55,000 square feet of commercial and office space along with 650 residential units on a 13-acre tract in the shadow of I-75. The new development will replace an existing office and industrial complex.

“We’re going to create a community where people can live in a vibrant, urban setting, where it’s a convenient and pleasant walk to the new restaurants, stores and offices we’ll build here,” said Pollack Partners Chairman & CEO Marc Pollack at the time of the project announcement.

The developer plans to build luxury multi-family residential units featuring swimming pools, a fitness center, business center, a clubhouse and other amenities.

The objections to the proposed development, voiced by Nason and some of the local neighbors, have centered on two major issues: the proposed density of the project itself and the impact the project would have on an already congested road system in the area of Collier Road and Howell Mill Road. Nason chairs the zoning committee for the Underwood Hills neighborhood, which is across Collier Road from the proposed development.

Nason has distributed flyers to homes in the area urging residents to attend the meeting and have their concerns aired, stating, “There has been no discussion with the developer indicating that he would consider refashioning his plans toward a development more in keeping with its neighboring properties to the west of I-75.”

A map on the flyer indicates that “of all the residentially designated properties west of I-75 in the Defoor/Bohler/west Collier corridor on the 15-year CDP(Comprehensive Development Plan), only one small area in the northwest corner of I-75 and Collier Road is shown as appropriate for a density of 17-29 units per acre. Everything else is 0-8 or 0-16 multi-family or single-family.”

According to calculations arrived at by Jim Martin, chairman of NPU-D, “the 1011 Collier proposal is for a density of 61-65 units per acre on property abutting the 17-29 density,” Nason explained.

“The low to medium-low density residential development of the Defoor/Bohler/West Collier corridor immediately to the west of I-75 is a distinct buffer area between the industrial zoning of the Ellsworth Industrial/Chattahoochee corridor to the west and the largely single-family neighborhoods in the Howell Mill Road/Northside Drive/Collier Road corridor east of I-75,” she told the Buckhead Reporter.

Nason delivered a hard copy and emailed a letter to Charletta Wilson Jacks, assistant director of the Atlanta Bureau of Planning, announcing plans for the May 7 meeting and outlining the concerns of the neighborhoods relating to the proposed 1011 Collier Road development and the developer’s requested zoning change for the property.

“If the threat of which I write is not real, I would deeply appreciate your extending to my neighbors and myself in the referenced corridor, assurances as to why we need not fear,” Nason wrote to Jacks. “Many of us are very concerned. We would ask that you take a very close look at our Defoor Avenue/Bohler Road/west Collier Road corridor in terms of that which is necessary to preserve its present character.”

The Defoor/Bohler/west Collier corridor to the west of I-75 is an extensive area of quite low-density multi-family and single-family housing. RG-2 zoning with two-story height limitations is the rule for virtually all of the 3,000-plus multi-family residential units in the corridor.

“The concern of many residents is the likelihood that the high-density development proposed for 1011 Collier will put great pressure on the surrounding RG-2 multi-family complexes to redevelop at the much higher densities of 1011 Collier,” Nason wrote in her letter to Jacks.

“Perhaps initially this pressure will concentrate on the apartment complexes. Then, however, there will surely be a strong impetus for the pressure to spread to the recently converted adjacent condominium complexes until finally pressure comes to bear for a change in the character of the entire corridor to more greatly resemble the developing high-density Huff Road/Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard/Chattahoochee Avenue corridor which is only one street removed from us,” she continued.

“I would propose that the Defoor/Bohler/west Collier corridor should serve as the transitional lower-density multi- and single-family buffer between the developing high-density Huff Road/Ellsworth/Chattahoochee corridor and the large number of more traditional single-family neighborhoods east of I-75 in the Howell Mill Road/Northside Drive/east Collier Road corridor,” Nason told Jacks. “In order to serve that purpose, the Defoor/Bohler/west Collier corridor should be protected from any precedent-setting densities of the kind which have been deemed appropriate for Beltline areas such as Huff Road.”

Rick Bermish, president of the Channing Valley Homeowners Association, early on said he was supportive of the project at 1011 Collier Road, but said gridlock in the area has become a major issue.