Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta unveiled Nov. 16 renderings and plans for its campus at the North Druids Hills Road and I-85 interchange that is slated to be completed by 2026 if given the go-ahead next month by the city of Brookhaven. The plans include a $1.3 billion hospital, the Center for Advanced Pediatrics now under construction, support buildings and more than 20 acres of green space.

The plans also call for CHOA committing $40 million toward traffic improvements around the campus as it is built out over the next nine years, including funding going toward a redesign of the I-85 interchange.

The renderings and plans for the site were presented to some 75 residents living near the CHOA campus at a community meeting held at the Thalia N. Carlos Hellenic Community Center on Clairmont Road.

Bird’s-eye rendering of the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta North Druid Hills Road campus, with the Center for Advanced Pediatrics at the bottom left and the new hospital in the center. (CHOA)

Chris Chelette, vice president of Planning, Design and Construction for CHOA, said he and others would like to see the interchange replaced and are “committing the dollars to take the first step.” Their funding is tied to a local match, he added. Local match funding can come from city, county, state and federal funds.

Chelette did say CHOA would like to see a diverging diamond at the interchange.

An attendee, Sonny Chaffin, sparred with Chelette during a small-group Q&A session following the 45-minute presentation and said CHOA needed to “apologize” to the surrounding community because he believes nothing they can do will help alleviate the area’s notorious traffic.

While Chelette said he would say he was sorry to Chaffin, he disagreed and said CHOA is serving as a “catalyst” for traffic improvements that have needed to be done for years.

CHOA spokesperson Brian Brodrick added, “We certainly don’t think we have anything to apologize for and we will continue to work with the community.”

Traffic improvements CHOA says it is willing to commit $40 million toward making. Local matching grants will also have to be made. (CHOA)

Before any dirt can be turned, though, CHOA must first receive the nod from the city of Brookhaven to annex and rezone some 11 acres along the I-85 Northeast Expressway to make way for an 8-story office building and 7-story parking deck. This “support” building will replace the office complex around Tullie Circle that will be torn down to make room for the new hospital.

The Brookhaven Planning Commission will consider the rezoning of the 11 acres, which now only allows for a 5-story building, at its Dec. 6 meeting. The City Council will consider the annexation and rezoning at its Dec. 12 meeting. Some variances are needed as well and will be considered by the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals on Dec. 20.

The campus will be anchored by the new $1.3 billion hospital with 446 beds in two patient towers, an attached medical office building and a consolidated AFLAC Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. The height of the hospital will be between 16-19 stories. A 19-story hotel was at the site and demolished in 2014 after CHOA bought it.

“By building vertically, we achieve two important goals: preservation of green and open space and creating proximity and efficiency for our medical staff. Both of these are vital to improving outcomes,” Brodrick said.

The new hospital will replace CHOA’s Egleston Hospital on Clifton Road near Emory University. Hospital officials say Egleston is running out of bed space and is landlocked in an area where they say traffic is worse than the traffic at North Druid Hills and I-85 that spills onto arterial streets and into residential areas.

Plans are to plant grass and hundreds of hardwood trees that are specifically grown for urban environments to create 20 acres of green space that will include walking trails and paths for hospital patients, their families and staff. The lush environment is also part of creating “healing views” for children to see from their windows during hospital stays, said Bob Farrow, principal for HKS Architects.

CHOA is also working with the city to create a path to the Peachtree Creek Greenway via the I-85 underpass.

Additional structures planned for completion by 2026 include a central energy plant that will allow for efficient and sustainable energy on site and ancillary parking decks.

Dyana Bagby

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

2 replies on “CHOA unveils detailed plans for North Druid Hills campus”

  1. I am very concerned about the additional traffic the project will bring. I live in the Executive Park Condominiums off of Briarcliff Road – on land that adjoins where the new access to Braircliff Road in planned. It is already extremely hard to leave our complex and get on Briarcliff Road during certain parts of the day. I have lived in the area for about 55 years now and traffic has NEVER been as heavy as it has been during the last 2 years. Is there a traffic light planned for the new entry/exit planned for Briarcliff Road? A new traffic light there could even make it more difficult to exit our property and get on Briarcliff Road. While the plans for the new development appear to be nice – I wish it was somewhere else. Has any thought been given to how the new access / exit point on Briarcliff Road will impact the ability of residents to turn on to Briarcliff Road (going in either direction)? I am foresee an even worse traffic nightmare.

  2. The prime real estate will develop into something. I think a Children’s Hospital will be far less disruptive than one of Fuqua’s Lifestyle Centers or Power Retail Centers. I would rather have an institution than another sprawled out retail trip generator. Whoever thinks that he land is just going to sit vacant until they give permission for it to develop based on their own traffic and driving preferences is not living in the real world.

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