A Sandy Springs developer is pulling back from a gigantic mixed-use proposal at Roswell and Pitts roads and saying the concept never involved relocating a historic cemetery, despite family members saying the company made recent offers.

Heritage Capitol Partners had a redevelopment concept posted on its website for the Dunwoody Pointe apartments, an office complex and a 19-acre woodland that includes the historic Power family cemetery. The concept called for a Kroger-anchored project with hundreds of apartments and townhomes and several commercial buildings.

A Google Earth map of the area showing the general area of the Heritage Capitol Partners’ redevelopment concept in red and the general location of the Power cemetery in yellow. The company now says it is focusing only on the wooded area for possible redevelopment and is open to the idea of making it a city park.

“I’m taking the concept off the website,” said Joseph Ashkouti, principal at Heritage Capitol Partners, citing Kroger’s displeasure at being named publicly during talks before any deal had been signed, which he called “a mishap on our part.” Heritage owns the woodland, but does not currently control the apartment and office properties involved, he said. Kroger and the other property owners have not responded to comment requests.

The redevelopment concept gained public attention through advocacy from Power family descendants concerned about the condition and future of the cemetery, which dates to 1885 and is still used for burials. Marie Power Frazier, a descendant who serves as the family contact for arranging burials, previously said a Heritage representative offered her “thousands” of dollars to agree to move the bodies about two months ago in expectation of putting forward a development plan later this year. She said the representative contacted her two or three times.

Ashkouti said that Heritage did not make such an offer and that, while other developers regularly make offers for the entire woodland property, he does not believe anyone else would make a cemetery-moving offer, either. A limited liability company controlled by Heritage owns the entire property, including the cemetery, according to Fulton County property records.

“We have never made an offer to buy the cemetery,” Ashkouti said, referring to the relocation concern. “We’ve never even considered that… We certainly would never buy that cemetery and try to move it. We don’t need that piece of land to make our deal work.”

In response, Frazier said she did not remember the name of the man who contacted her, but said he was a lawyer representing a company seeking to redevelop the woodland, including for apartments, and affirmed that he offered money to move the graves. She said she understood he represented Heritage Capitol Partners.

Ashkouti said his company’s intent with the overall redevelopment concept was bringing back a Kroger after last year’s sudden closure of the Northridge Shopping Center Kroger less than a mile away. Another motivation was the city’s urge to see redevelopment of older apartment complexes, Ashkouti said, describing the concept as helping an area that “needs a jump-start.”

Taylor Morgan poses with the 1885 headstone of his ancestor William Power in the historic family cemetery off Roswell Road. (John Ruch)

Ashkouti said that Heritage would still like to see the concept move forward, but “if it happens, it’s a long shot.” He said the company is now focusing on the woodland property it already owns, which he described as “18 acres” – leaving out the roughly 1-acre cemetery. He said that Heritage has some redevelopment ideas in mind, but is also open to Power family descendant Taylor Morgan’s idea of acquiring it for a new city park.

“Of course,” Ashkouti said. “Everything’s for sale at the right price.”

Update: This story has been updated with further comment from Marie Power Frazier.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.