The Dunwoody City Council postponed Feb. 26 voting on a proposed massive mixed-use project in Perimeter Center to try to work with the developer over several issues, including traffic mitigation, effects on local schools and the estimated 10-year timeline for the build out of the development. The council plans to take up the project again at its March 26 meeting.
Grubb Properties is seeking to rezone 19.5 acres at 41, 47, 53 Perimeter Center East, where the former City Hall was located, from office institution (ONI) to Perimeter Center 2 (PC-2) to construct six residential buildings and a 19-story office tower.
The developers first presented its plans to the council Feb. 12 that included 1,200 residential units and 1.7 million square feet of combined residential and commercial space. Since that time, Grubb Properties has agreed to lower the total units to 980 and reduce its commercial square footage of new office space from 500,000 square feet to 390,000 square feet.
The developer, according to plans presented at the Feb. 26 meeting, also firmed up size of the residential buildings — five would be 14 stories as recommended by the Planning Commission and one would be six stories. At the last meeting, the stories ranged from 12 to 16 stories.
The developer also stated it would:
• Put on a rental cap that no more than 280 units would be rental at any one time as the project is built out and units are converted to condominiums. This is down from 300 rental units.
• Commit $100,000 toward pedestrian and bike infrastructure and traffic calming.
• Commit $50,000 toward public art for the public three-acre park planned for the center of the development.
• Hire a design firm from Copenhagen, Denmark to design the bike and pedestrian paths and trails throughout the site to link to other parks and trails planned in Perimeter Center.
• Offer a 50 percent discount on rent for Dunwoody Police officers in return for them performing some surveillance services. This would be for two officers for this project, allowing one to cover when the other is unavailable.
• All other Dunwoody law enforcement officers would receive a 20 percent discount on any for-sale housing.
The mayor and council, however, were not swayed by these concessions.
Councilmember John Heneghan noted a DeKalb School District analysis showed the development would add 65 more students to local schools over the approximate 10-year build out, including the need for more portable classrooms for the schools that are already overcrowded.
David Kirk, attorney for Grubb Properties, said the property tax revenue for the three office buildings now on the property amounts to about $500,000 annually. If the proposed development is built, the property tax revenue would jump to over $6 million a year, Kirk said.
“This would be more revenue for the city and the school system,” Kirk said, adding that would amount to about $100,000 per each anticipated new student.
If this was only the financial bottom line [for DeKalb Schools] and not the quality of about the education, then maybe Kirk’s point would be valid, Heneghan said. But putting more students in portable classrooms harms the quality of education, he said.
Heneghan also questioned the traffic analysis by Kimley Horn for the project, noting that several nearby parcels are zoned for high density projects, such as a 223-hotel on Ashford-Dunwoody Road and the long-talked about High Street Development near the Sandy Springs border.
Councilmember Terry Nall questioned the $100,000 commitment for bike and pedestrian infrastructure as well as traffic calming, saying that the issue in Perimeter Center is simply being able to move cars.
And Councilmember Lynn Deutsch said she could not support a project in Perimeter Center that would take a decade to complete.
“I have a real problem with this timeline,” she said. “It puts an undue burden on the city. I cannot support a 10 to 15 year project in Perimeter Center that has regional impact. For me, we are a long way off from finishing the discussion.”