Residents will be seeking more details about the massive redevelopment featuring five skyscrapers planned by an unidentified Australian developer on Perimeter Center West next to the Sandy Springs MARTA station. A preliminary community meeting is slated for Jan. 20.

The residential and office towers, each standing 20 to 29 stories tall, would surround the existing office building at 1117 Perimeter Center West, replacing a three-story parking deck. Design illustrations show the towers as walled with mirrored glass and topped with triangular beams.

An illustration from the rezoning application for 1117 Perimeter Center West.
An illustration from the rezoning application for 1117 Perimeter Center West.

“It’s a substantial project that will be built over several or many years,” said Rob Forrest, a Milton real estate professional who is handling permitting and zoning for an Australian family that bought the 13-acre property last year. The new, mixed-use project would include ground-floor retail space,” he said, and can connect to the MARTA station.

The plan also preserves the existing building, known for its unusual hexagonal shape, which has an interior courtyard that would be opened up for performances. “What we’re looking at is really, really embracing that [building and courtyard],” Forrest said, adding that the intent is “to protect the current building and the current tenants.”

Forrest declined to identify the developers or any other project they have worked on, saying only that the family is originally from Korea and that this is “their first foray into the Americas.”

“They like to fly below the radar… They prefer not to be known,” he said.

Forrest said he has spoken with various “stakeholders” in the area, but would not say who they are, except that homeowner organizations are not among them.

Tochie Blad of the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods said residents need more details, especially on traffic flow, the MARTA connection and whether the project is speculative or has prospective tenants in place. “Connectivity to MARTA is key to any of these massive projects,” Blad said. “And we don’t have any information.”

Forrest said he expects to file a full project application with the city next month. He said specific residential unit counts are still on the drawing board and would not give an estimated project budget.

Fulton County property records show the developers bought the site for $68.5 million. The project totals 1.3 million square feet, Assistant City Manager Jim Tolbert said at the Jan. 5 Sandy Springs City Council meeting.

The site is on the opposite side of the Mount Vernon Highway/Peachtree-Dunwoody Road intersection from the parcel where developer Hines proposes another massive, mixed-use development with skyscrapers. The Hines project is embroiled in a city zoning dispute.

The Perimeter Center West project requires rezoning to mixed-use, and its timing may be affected by whether the city extends its rezoning moratorium, currently set to expire on Jan. 17. Tolbert said it is one of three—and by far the largest—projects that “gambled” on the moratorium expiring and filed in recent weeks so that it could move ahead under existing zoning code.

The City Council discussed the rezoning moratorium in a non-voting work session, with no consensus on whether it should be extended 90 days or more. The council recently approved new “interim guidelines” for mixed-use projects while city consultants work on a new zoning code expected later this year. The guidelines—which merely are suggestions—call for denser and taller redevelopment near MARTA stations.

“This was a delay, but we’re patient,” Forrest said of the rezoning moratorium, adding that the developers would not mind a further extension and that it has given them more time to talk to stakeholders. “Whatever it takes for the city to get ready…We respect that a lot,” he said.

Blad said that the moratorium should be extended “with a project of this size” coming down the pipe.

Whatever happens with the moratorium, the Perimeter Center West project is still in an early phase under new city rules requiring pre-application meetings with city staff and the general public. As part of that process, the developers will hold a public meeting Wed., Jan. 20, at 7 p.m. at 1117 Perimeter Center West.

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

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