Buckhead Forest homes share their skyline with high-rise buildings. The neighborhood has seen an influx of residents who are tired of long commutes from the suburbs.
Buckhead Forest homes share their skyline with high-rise buildings. The neighborhood has seen an influx of residents who are tired of long commutes from the suburbs.

The Buckhead Reporter offers this look at the Buckhead Forest neighborhood as part of an occasional series of profiles on local communities.

It’s a neighborhood that’s been squeezed by development but has still managed to thrive in the thick of things.

Residents of Buckhead Forest live in the shadow of the Atlanta district’s most iconic buildings. Their children play army in yards that look like suburban bliss on one side and urban sprawl on the other.

Its borders are Peachtree, Piedmont and Roswell roads, routes that are synonymous with gridlock and urban sprawl. But those logjams are an improvement for those seeking escape from suburbs farther away from the city’s center.

The 126 single-family homes and multiple apartments, townhomes and condos that make up Buckhead Forest are sometimes in conflict with their non-residential neighbors, Civic Association President Kim Kahwach said. But they’ve also forged a kind of truce.

“The people that live there are great, a lot of fun,” Kahwach said. “Everyone knows each other in our neighborhood.”

Sandy Dlugozima, who has lived there for six years, spent a sunny, chilly Martin Luther King Jr. Day afternoon watching his twin boys run up and down the sidewalk. Garbed in a jogging suit, he said the neighbors enjoy being able to walk to get coffee or hold their child’s hand on the way to Peachtree United Methodist Church’s pre-school, which has expansion plans sometimes at odds with residents’ desires.

The neighborhood’s style of living is a draw for people tired of tangling themselves up in traffic on long commutes, Dlugozima said. He noted another young couple had just moved in down the street.

“The schools have gotten better,” he said. “People have gotten sick of the traffic.”

The residents living there generally get along, holding Christmas gift exchanges, Easter egg hunts and other community events that round out life in the historic neighborhood.

The residents’ conflicts are often with nearby churches looking to expand their campuses and attract new members, Kahwach said.

“The city is generally helpful,” Kahwach said. “I’ll tell you, it’s the commercial encroachment and the encroachment with the churches. We’ve had issues with Peachtree Presbyterian encroaching and the same with Peachtree Road United Methodist Church.”

It should be noted that the churches and the neighborhood often partner as well. The neighborhood has a yard sale that piggybacks off Peacthree United Methodist Church’s yard sale, for example.

The neighborhood is also on the backside of the infamous “Disco Kroger,” a grocery store on Piedmont Road that once upon a time brimmed with traffic from the neighboring Limelight club.

Not so much these days, Kahwach said.

At one point, the neighborhood was called Buckhead Triangle, a name derived from its three-sided geography. Most of the homes are in the Sarah Smith Elementary school district, with a small portion of students on Roswell Road who attend Warren T. Jackson Elementary.

The oldest house, on Mathieson Drive, dates back to 1910. The homes on West Shadowlawn Avenue date back to 1923, and feature Tudor-style architecture, asymmetrical homes with decorative beams and steep roofs. Other homes feature a more traditional, colonial look.

Recently the neighborhood has teamed up with Peacthree UMC on a sidewalk project for the neighborhood.

Being able to go places without a car is a big advantage to living there, Kahwach said.

“The walkability factor is huge,” Kahwach said. “It’s nice to be able to walk to a restaurant and walk home.”

Having a nice home to walk back to helps, too.

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of Decaturish.com