By Michael J. Thompson

Neighborhood Planning Unit-B (NPU-B) had a smaller-than-usual turnout for its July 3 meeting at The Second Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in Buckhead and was carried on with no premature eruption of fireworks.

However, the small group of 15 who attended the meeting did receive another update on when demolition of the old Peachtree Village will begin, how traffic will be handled and when construction of the new Buckhead Avenues will start.

NPU-B Chairperson Jeff Shell attributed the small turnout to Independence Day. “A lot of people have headed out for the holiday,” he said.

Representatives of Ben Carter Properties and Balfour Beatty were present to give a presentation related to the phasing of the demolition schedule for buildings in the Buckhead Village, which will begin next month, and construction traffic plans for Buckhead Avenue.

“It was something I had asked them to do because there was concern in the neighborhoods,” said Shell. “In case there will be lane closures, we can alert the neighborhood. It was something that was put in the condition of the contract (for the demolition),” he added.

During the construction of the “new” Buckhead, all construction traffic will use Piedmont Road, East Paces Ferry, Buckhead Avenue and Pharr Road. The only the street areas that are to be used are the current parking lanes. Some lanes – and at this point it is not know which lanes – will be closed temporarily for utility work only.

Starting next month, wrecking balls, razing crews and bulldozers will begin the process of clearing eight acres of buildings that Carter purchased for $210 million. Construction will then begin on the $1.2 billion Buckhead Avenues, touted as a Rodeo Drive East with high-end retail, plush hotels and luxurious residential living.

The project will consist of 90 boutiques, 12 restaurants and bars, three hotels and more than 500 residential units

Slated to go are Mako’s, Tongue & Groove, which held its farewell party July 6, and an assortment of other bars in the heart of Buckhead that will be leveled to allow for the massive redevelopment.

Actually, the owners of Tongue & Groove announced at their party to close the Buckhead Village club, that they will reopen in the fall just a short distance up the road at 3089 Peachtree Road where the Sofas & Chairs business formerly was located.

“When the construction is done, it will have been worth the redevelopment,” said Shell

“We’re excited about the changes to this area,” said Atlanta City Planner Jessica Lavandier.

As for the normal business of zoning issues, etc., the longest discussion of the evening focused on the request by applicant David Ogram for the rezoning of his residential home to allow for a garage addition to the existing single-family residence at 169 Interlochen Drive. Ogram was seeking a variance from zoning regulations to reduce the front yard setbacks from the 50 feet required to 25 feet, so he could build an adequate sized garage.

“The trend now is to have garages in the front of the house and Ogram was applying for a variance to allow for a new addition,” Shell said.

After discussion regarding the issue, Orgam’s variance request fizzled without a bang, as he was denied the rezoning application.