By John Schaffner

Graphic above shows the development density allowed under current Peachtree Road corridor zoning. The proposal by the student design team allows more air and light to pass through.

The Brookwood Alliance Plan for future development of five south Buckhead neighborhoods took another step forward April 13 with the second public presentation of work by the students of the Georgia Tech Urban Design Studio and their lead professor David Green.

The board of the Brookwood Alliance and residents from Brookwood Hills, Brookwood, Ardmore Park, Collier Hills and North Collier Hills neighborhoods heard preliminary proposals for street design along the Peachtree Road corridor, development opportunities and improved accessibility to and from the area.

The street design proposals offered by the Design Studio team during the presentation at the Rich Auditorium at Piedmont Hospital focused on taking the existing 80-foot-wide right-of-way on Peachtree Road (40 feet either side of the center line) to a recommended ideal of 120-foot-wide right-of-way.

The present 80-foot right-of-way includes three lanes of vehicle traffic on either side of the center line and 10-foot-wide sidewalk on each side of the road. There is very limited on-street parking and no bike lanes. Also, there are areas where the sidewalks are reduced to 5 feet wide.

The proposed 120-foot-wide right-of-way would include a 10-foot-wide center island that accommodates areas for a left turn lane and includes street trees, and each side of the center island would include two lanes for vehicle traffic, a lane of on-street parking, a 5-foot safety tree buffer area, 5-foot bike lane and 15-foot-wide sidewalks.

The Design Studio team also presented alternatives for 60-foot rights-of-way on either side of the center line, and options for 50-feet, 45-feet and 40-feet streetscapes.

The design team also discussed with the Alliance board conflicts that are presented at five “choke points” along Peachtree Road between I-85 and Peachtree Battle Avenue. The worst of those is where the former Pier 1 store was located just south of Peachtree Creek.

The other four choke points listed were just above where the BeltLine is to cross Peachtree, at Piedmont Hospital, at Palisades Road and just north of the bridge over I-85.

The strengths of the ideal street design as presented were that it can be implemented given the existing conditions yet it improves safety for drivers and pedestrians and achieves the vision of a walkable, connected community voiced through a public survey.

Turning to development strategies along the corridor, the design team evaluated three studies that had been previously done: the 15-Year Future Land Use Plan, BeltLine Subarea 7 Plan and Peachtree Corridor Plan. The conclusion was there were conflicts in density and use recommendations, and in the manner in which height, density and uses are defined.

The design team proposed a somewhat different solution for future development that reinforces the Alliance’s vision of an “urban oasis.” The concept calls for the single-family neighborhoods to be protected by buffering and shifting the higher density toward Peachtree.

Low- to medium-rise building bases would line the street, “fostering a scale that is urban yet human.” Those bases would be topped with slender vertical development, accommodating higher intensity development but not blocking air and light from filtering to the residences.

The verdict in terms of accessibility is that Brookwood has poor accessibility. “Traffic is not effectively managed by the existing infrastructure,” which will be difficult to accommodate future development.