After months of consideration and re-consideration, city officials have approved a new development on Ashford-Dunwoody Road that includes an 8-story Hampton Inn and Suites.

“We certainly hope that this will serve as a step forward for this site and for the Perimeter Center area,” lawyer Den Webb, who represents the developer, told members of Dunwoody City Council during their meeting July 8.

The council unanimously approved the zoning needed for the Sterling Point development. The original zoning and development plan for the site had been approved before Dunwoody became a city five years ago. The plan was modified to reduce the height of the hotel from 10 to eight stories and to make other changes.

Webb said more than 40 site plans had been drawn for the project during negotiations with the city and neighborhood groups and “I think this site plan in front of you represents the best ideas.”

The project attracted new attention earlier this year when City Council returned it the Dunwoody Planning Commission for a second vote after questions arose about campaign donations from a partner in a law firm representing the developer to the unsuccessful mayoral campaign of a member of the commission.

Lawyer Kathy Zickert said in a letter to the city that the failure to report the donation was an oversight, in part because she didn’t realize the city’s reporting requirements applied to planning commissioners as well as council members. The commission approved the project for the second time on June 11.

On July 8, developer Steve Smith promised the council that the hotel would not be a standard Hampton Inn building. The design isn’t complete, he said, but it will include stacked stone and a stucco-like finish.

“It’s not going to be a box. We’ll have a lot of variation on our building,” Smith said. “It’s our intention to make this look a lot nicer.”

Council members seemed to welcome the description. “You’re on the main drag, so we’re looking for quality construction,” Councilman Dennis Shortal said.

In addition to the 134-room hotel, the 11.5-acre development at the intersection of Ashford-Dunwoody and Perimeter Center North will feature outbuildings designed for a restaurant and shops.

The buildings will be built along Ashford-Dunwoody, with parking behind them. The sides facing Ashford-Dunwoody will appear as the “fronts” of the building, not their backs, the council required.

A single entrance into the development from Ashford-Dunwoody will allow only right turns into the property. The Dunwoody Homeowners Association had opposed a design that allowed cars to turn onto Ashford –Dunwoody from the development, but the DHA approved the project after a new design dropped that turn lane.

“We’re worked with the developer over the years and we are in full support of it,” DHA president Stacey Harris told the council. “We think it will be a great addition to the city.”

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Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.