By John Ruch
A new rezoning concept aims to make a portion of Peachtree Road in Buckhead a more human-scale, walkable corridor with street-front retail and mini-parks. And if it works out, it could be a pilot program for similar corridor plans in the city’s forthcoming new zoning code citywide.
The public got a look at the early “Peachtree Corridor” rezoning concepts at a Nov. 30 meeting at the Shepherd Center, where city Planning Commissioner Tim Keane said it fits into Atlanta’s new proactive stance on preparing for redevelopment.
“The city we have today is awesome, but the city is changing and growing,” Keane said. “It’s time for us to be specific and intentional about how the city takes shape, how it gets greener and how we get around.”
At least one more community meeting will be held as part of the process. The Nov. 30 meeting presentation, including maps, is available on the rezoning website at peachtreezoning.com.
The Peachtree Corridor zoning addresses Peachtree between Deering Road at the Amtrak station and Sheridan Drive in Garden Hills. The intent of the zoning, however, caused some confusion and skepticism from many of the roughly 30 residents and developers in attendance.
Much of the presentation, from city-hired Canvas Planning Group, dealt with the high density of potential redevelopment. That led many attendees to think the rezoning would boost density, when it actually would just change the design standards to require more setbacks and green space.
“It is not increasing any density at all,” Sally Silver of City Councilmember Howard Shook’s office, who sits on the Peachtree Corridor steering committee, said in an interview.
It also wouldn’t allow buildings to go taller than the existing 100- and 250-foot limits on various segments of the street. The one way density might increase is as a bonus if developers agree to do something such as create a mixed-use project, though that incentive is just a concept right now.
Much of the street’s properties are already allowed to have very high-density redevelopment under the most recent zoning, done in 1982, Silver said. The idea is to prepare for dense development by requiring tall buildings to be stepped back so they don’t loom over single-family neighborhoods and to encourage mixed-use projects with retail space along with better sidewalks, green space and amenities such as nicer bus shelters.
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