The proposed “Little White House” restaurant, originally planned for a building that was demolished, is finding a new home with a proposed mixed-use development on Brookhaven’s Dresden Drive.

Developers for the Dresden Village mixed-use development are in talks about purchasing the property where the “Little White House” stood on Caldwell Road, adjacent to a site where they want to build an apartment complex, townhomes and retail space. The land is currently occupied by the DeKalb County tag office.

A rendering of the proposed Dresden Village development at Dresden Drive and Caldwell Road.
A rendering of the proposed Dresden Village development at Dresden Drive and Caldwell Road.

“We have an agreement with the owner [Fritz Rybert] to purchase the land where the Little White House was located,” said J.R. Connolly, president and CEO of Connolly Investment and Development, developer of Dresden Village along with Fairfield Residential.

“The restaurant would be built essentially the same plan as it was. The flavor will be similar,” Connolly said. “It will look like a house, but we are incorporating it with the project, which gets rid of the biggest problem of parking because we have a parking structure.”

Rybert did not return calls for comment.

Located just off the thriving Dresden Drive corridor, the one-story house at 2536 Caldwell Road was rezoned by the city last year to allow a restaurant by chef Scott Serpas named Dixie Moon. Serpas, a Brookhaven resident, is known for Serpas True Food in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward.

But Rybert’s contractor demolished the house in June, violating the city’s zoning policy and forcing the city to halt work on the restaurant, which had been in the works for several years.

The city’s zoning code prohibits construction of a new single-story building at the site of the Little White House due to restrictions in the Brookhaven Peachtree Overlay District. But by adding the White House to the Dresden Village development, zoning codes are likely to be met, according to City Attorney Chris Balch.

“The solution is between the two landowners,” Balch said. “But hypothetically speaking, if this joint venture were to go forward, it complies with the overlay for a two-story building. And it will have parking.”

Balch said he can’t predict what the City Council will do, but if the proposal is approved, everybody gets what they want, “including a Scott Serpas restaurant in Brookhaven.”

The developers asked the Planning Commission on Nov. 2 to have their rezoning request deferred until December, but the commission voted to defer it until January. The City Council was expected to consider the deferral at its Nov. 9 meeting. UPDATE: The City Council voted to send the application back to the Planning Commission in January.

Connolly Investment and Development and Fairfield Residential are the developers of the $50 million to $60 million planned mixed-use project at the 3-acre site on the corner of Dresden Drive and Caldwell Drive, where the DeKalb County Tax Commissioner office is currently located.

The project was recently revised to include 10 for-sale townhomes fronting Caldwell Road. A parking deck would include 180 spaces that would be available to the Dixie Moon restaurant, for shops in the project and to the general public, Connolly said.

Parking along the thriving Dresden Drive has long been an issue and developers are trying to sweeten their deal with the community by including public parking.

The proposed project includes approximately 20,000 square feet of boutiques and local restaurants with outside patios managed by local operators; pedestrian-friendly streetscapes with wide sidewalks and attractive storefronts; and 194 luxury multi-family apartment homes.

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.