A new “Main Street” bordered by a bicycle trail is among the new details in the massive mixed-use redevelopment of Pill Hill’s Peachtree Dunwoody Pavilion office park revealed at a March 22 community meeting.
The Buckhead-based Simpson Organization has big plans for the 20-acre site the intersection of Peachtree-Dunwoody Road and Lake Hearn Drive in Sandy Springs. They include a hotel and retail space; a 250-unit multifamily housing complex; an 8-story, 200,000-square-foot office building atop three levels of parking; a 6-level parking deck; and new restaurants around an existing pond—the “lake” of Lake Hearn Drive. Three of four existing office buildings on the site would remain and be renovated.
At the preliminary meeting, held at the Pavilion, project architect Bill Halter of the firm Cooper Carry showed “our big idea, the Main Street.” The new road would curve through the site, connecting Peachtree-Dunwoody Road and Lake Hearn Drive through what is now a patchwork of parking lots. The current Peachtree-Dunwoody driveway would be moved about 120 feet north for the new road.
A paved bike trail would run partly alongside the road and partly behind the housing at the site’s rear. Halter said a “bike valet” for visitors is a possibility.
Halter said the plan would create a “village-like environment” and enhance access to the pond. Along Peachtree-Dunwoody, he said, “the idea is we’re getting a more urban edge” with some streetfront retail space and the hotel.
The plan includes indirect access to the adjacent Medical Center MARTA station. The developers were considering a possible pedestrian bridge, but Halter said the plan now is for access via the new parking garage with elevators that could carry bicycles. The access would not be directly into the station, but to an outdoor area near its entrance.
Boyd Simpson, president of the Simpson Organization, said after the meeting that he is close to a deal with a hotel chain, but cannot reveal who it is yet. “It’s a well-known national or international brand,” he said, adding that it would include some extended-stay rooms meant for the market of people visiting Pill Hill hospitals.
The developer is still seeking a partner for the multifamily housing portion and no decision has been made on whether they would be rentals or ownership units, Simpson said.
Only about a half-dozen community members attended the meeting. Sheila Koestner, facilities manager for CGI Technologies and Solutions, a current Pavilion tenant, said she likes the plan even though she expects rents to rise.
“I love it,” she said. “It may mean that we may have to look somewhere else…but it’s about time they do something. It’s a great location.”
Trisha Thompson, president of the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods, said it’s good that the project includes much less density than allowed under its zoning. But, she added, “connectivity” and Peachtree-Dunwoody traffic increases will be a concern. A traffic study is still pending and project officials said a widening of Lake Hearn Drive at Peachtree-Dunwoody is a possibility.
“It’s nice that it’s a downsizing,” Thompson said. “It’s nice that it’s a mix [of uses]. It’s nice that it’s going to be bringing retail and restaurants into this area, which is very needed.”
With the developers intending to give the pond more public exposure, Simpson talked about its origin. “A point of historical interest—the lake is here because when the property was first developed in the 1960s, there was an active spring on the west side of the lake,” he said, explaining that the pond was created to hold its outflow. “The spring is not nearly as active as it once was.”
The developer is seeking rezoning to allow the mixed use and a use permit for increased building height. The project is in an early stage and has not been formally filed with the city yet. If the project is approved, the earliest construction start would be late this year, Simpson said. He estimated the new road and parking garage would take about a year to build, with the hotel and multifamily portions taking another 18 to 24 months.
The Simpson Organization owns many prominent local commercial properties, including the office park where Sandy Springs City Hall rents space and Dunwoody’s Sterling Pointe office complex where Mercedes-Benz USA is temporarily headquartered. Simpson said he is considering a mixed-use redevelopment of the buildings where his own company is headquartered at 1389, 1401 and 1409 Peachtree Street N.E.