By John Schaffner

The Sandy Springs Design Review Board approved an appeal from the owners of the CityWalk shopping center March 10 for sign variances that will allow center merchants other than Kroger to have their store names displayed along Hammond Drive, Sandy Springs Circle and Sandy Springs Place.

The issue now will go before the Board of Appeals in April, a city official reported.

CK City Walk Owner, LLC, the owner of the shopping center, used as its primary reason for seeking the variance the struggles of the tenants to operate their respective businesses without any visibility from the surrounding main streets. The extreme change in topography on the south side of the center interferes with visibility.

Existing buildings on adjacent land and a deep setback to the west of the shopping center also obscure visibility of the center and its shops from Sandy Springs Circle. The lack of visibility has hurt tenant sales and center leasing, and some tenants have gone out of business partially because of the lack of visibility to passing traffic, according to the variance request, filed by lawyer Louis E. Bridges on behalf of the center owner.

Tenants have complained for at least two years about the lack of signage for their stores along the main roads around the center, although there are main shopping center signs that has space to include smaller store signs.

The retailers also have asked for directional signage to individual stores within the center, but that change was not included in the request for a variance to the sign ordinance.

Specifically, the owner requested variances to allow an additional 8 square feet of usable panel space — adding a seventh sign panel — to the largest of two shopping center signs along Hammond Drive. The owner also requested an additional 40 square feet of space on the center sign on Sandy Springs Circle to allow for an additional store sign panel and for an additional 3 square feet of usable panel space on the Sandy Springs Place sign.

No variance was needed to use the panels on the main center signs for store-specific signage.