By John Schaffner

A study will begin within weeks to look at future zoning and development in the area most people consider to be the main commercial core of Buckhead.

The study of the area city officials have labeled Special Public Interest Area 12 will be conducted by the team of Market and Main combined with Perkins & Will and Zoeckler, Bowman Nix.

The team recently was selected after a request for proposal went out in December, according to Denise Starling of BATMA, who is overseeing the study project team and process.

SPI-12 encompasses most of the commercial/retail area between Piedmont Road and Roxboro Road and the Buckhead Loop and the MARTA rail line. It takes in the commercial core of Buckhead and high-rise office developments.

The study probably will take more than a year and include several public meetings with stakeholders and residents. It will be similar to the SPI-9 study under way in the area commonly referred to as Buckhead Village.

The SPI-12 study is being paid for by the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Livable Centers Initiative Program and the Buckhead Community Improvement District. It is being managed by BATMA (Buckhead Area Transportation Management Association).

Final revisions to the legislation in the SPI-9 area have been submitted to the city and are expected to be voted on by Atlanta City Council in June or July.

“The cutting edge piece of (SPI-9) legislation is going to help reshape future development in the Village to create a vibrant, walkable, village scale district that will become a focal point for Buckhead,” Starling said.

“The legislation includes innovative approaches like transfer of development rights, density bonuses for LEED certification, additional open space, centralized parking and public art among other desirable development characteristics.”

The SPI-9 study originally was scheduled to be completed within a year to 18 months. However, after all of the study work had been done and the first draft of an overlay was submitted to the city’s Department of Planning, it was decided to make it a new zoning ordinance, rather than an overlay to the former ordinance.