A representative of “Buckhead Atlanta” told members of Neighborhood Planning Unit B that they are working to get construction on the long-idle development started by the beginning of the year.

“Nothing will make us happier than seeing those cranes start to swing,” said Hunter Richardson, the development director for OliverMcMillan, the San Diego firm that purchased the property in May. “We’re looking at cleaning up the site so it has a better street presence than it does today.”

Buckhead Atlanta, formerly known as the Streets of Buckhead, is a mixed-use development on four city blocks at the intersection of Peachtree and East Paces Ferry roads. It is slated to include about 300,000 square feet of retail space and 370 luxury apartments to be completed by 2013.

“It’s really intended to be integrated into Buckhead, not just another project,” Richardson said at the NPU’s Sept. 6 meeting at the Cathedral of Christ the King. “We are looking to diversify and bring in a wider variety of tenants. … We are trying to make it more a part of the fabric.”

The project was originally a vision of Ben Carter Properties, which sought to create a premier shopping district similar to Los Angeles’ Rodeo Drive.

The development was acquired by OliverMcMillan after investors in The Streets of Buckhead forced developer Ben Carter out of the stalled $1.5 billion project in 2010.

Richardson said some of the foundations of the project had already been built when his firm acquired the project.

“We will be coming in and starting construction on top of what’s already existing,” he said. “It’s sound and has integrity. When we start, we will start going vertical immediately.”

However, Richardson told the NPU that the project will be more modest than what Ben Carter originally envisioned.

“We’re not over-maximizing the site. It’s a much more village-esque project.”

The NPU was also visited by Atlanta Police Chief George Turner. Turner updated the group on the police department’s efforts to reduce crime in the city.

The department has invested in a video integration system that syncs up security cameras around the city.

There are several cameras that are already linked in to the system, but Turner hopes to integrate thousands in the next year and a half, he said.

He reported that while crime is down overall, Atlanta is seeing a steep increase in auto thefts. People are crushing cars at junk yards, selling them for parts or sending them abroad, Turner said.

“We’ve established an auto theft regional task force,” Turner said. “We’re not the only agency having problems.”

Scrap metal theft, especially copper, is also a big issue, Turner said.

Thieves will steal copper wire worth between $50 and $100 and ruin systems that can cost $250,000 to replace.

“We are in a difficult time in our society,” Turner said. “We need to work together when we see things out of the norm.”