The city of Dunwoody’s Urban Renewal Agency expects to finalize plans with a developer next month for the design and construction of several restaurants as part of the long-planned Dunwoody Green project.
Economic Development Director Michael Starling said the URA is in the final stages of firming up a contract with developer Crim and Associates to build about five or six restaurants on about 2.5 acres in what’s designated as the city’s Project Renaissance urban redevelopment plan. The restaurants would be built around a small park space.
The acreage, at the intersection of North Shallowford Road and Dunwoody Park, is part of the Dunwoody Green commercial site within the larger Project Renaissance development.
“This is to be our Canton Street [in Roswell] or Dresden Drive [in Brookhaven],” Starling said. “It will be walkable and is intended to give a sense of place … and that is a destination for folks.”
Residents have long said they want more local and chef-driven restaurants in the city, Starling said, and this section of the project is intended to meet that need. No timeline has been set for when the restaurants would be completed, but the city hopes to have a contract signed by the end of November.
The search for a developer has taken more than a year.
“We purposely carved out this community node in Project Renaissance … to reimagine … what the Georgetown community area could be,” Starling said.
The restaurants would include outdoor seating and encourage community interaction and walkability, he said.
The URA owns the property and the site is an extension of a public purpose of Project Renaissance, which includes the creation of parks, new residential units and a multi-use trail system, Starling explained.
Plans are to have the commercial development be a catalyst for additional development activity in the Georgetown area and North Shallowford Road Corridor, while also creating a sense of place for the community, he said.
Project Renaissance goes back to 2012, when 35 acres were purchased by the city. The property now is owned by the URA. One parcel is the 16-acre property known as the “PVC Farm” – for its previously half-developed state with pipes sticking out of the ground — that City Council purchased for $5 million. The other is the 19-acre site of the former Emory Dunwoody Hospital.
The city selected John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods as its development partner after an invitation for proposals. Wieland purchased some 13 acres and is nearly finished building more than 110 homes.
Starling said the city’s decision to purchase the property and plan Project Renaissance was a “bold move” to design and implement a vision the city leaders saw fit for the area.
The housing market is “white hot” right now, he said, and the Wieland homes have been selling quickly.
It would be the City Council’s decision if it wanted to get back in the real estate business such as it did with Project Renaissance, Starling said, but the fact is there are not many large plots of land remaining in the city, he said.
“I absolutely think [Project Renaissance] is a huge success,” Starling said. “But our bandwidth is limited in Dunwoody and I can’t imagine another project of this scope. There is very little land left.”