Emory University has revealed its $1 billion plan for Executive Park, a “live-work-play health innovation district” that includes a hospital, a hotel, multifamily housing and medical and office space. The 60-acre plan will take 15 years to build, but construction of an orthopedic center could start this year, Emory says.

Emory University’s master plan for the 60 acres of Executive Park it owns shows future medical and office buildings colored in blue, including a new hospital and Musculoskeletal Center (MSK). The green areas represent park spaces. Emory is seeking to rezone the property from retail to office, commercial and residential. (Emory University)

Residents of Lavista Park, a neighborhood adjacent to Executive Park, are seeking to be annexed into Brookhaven possibly as soon as this year, in part because they want to have a say in the development.

“It’s critical we have a say because this comes into our neighborhood,” said Michael Lappin. “And if we’re not residents, we may not have much of a say.”

The Executive Park site is across the street from a massive new Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta medical complex under construction. Emory already operates several medical offices in Executive Park, including a joint medical and training facility with the Atlanta Hawks basketball team that opened in 2017.

Rezoning plans for the property at North Druid Hills and I-85 were filed May 1 with the city of Brookhaven. If all goes well, construction of a new Musculoskeletal Center building as part of Emory’s existing Orthopaedics & Spine Center could begin this fall, according to Robin Morey, Vice President and Chief Planning Officer for Emory University.

“I think it’s all about the mission and healthcare delivery and improving the land,” he said of what is named Emory at Executive Park. “It’s a well-thought out plan that will add value to Brookhaven and DeKalb County.”

CHOA’s 70-acre medical campus across the street will include a $1.3 billion hospital. The two healthcare campuses will “bookend” each other, Morey said, and the location of both near the interstate makes it ideal for patients having to visit from throughout the state.

The current zoning of Emory’s property is for retail. The rezoning request is to make way for office, commercial and residential uses that would allow for expanding the university’s healthcare mission, especially in the growing areas of orthopedics and spine and brain health services that are already located in Executive Park.

No timeline on projects following construction this year of the Musculoskeletal Center have been determined, Morey said, but next in line would be the 140-bed, non-emergency, inpatient hospital and an expansion of the Brain Health Center.

Emory University purchased 60 acres of Executive Park in 2016. The Emory Sports Medicine Complex, a partnership with the Atlanta Hawks, opened on the site in 2017. Toll Brothers, through its Toll Brothers Apartment Living subsidiary, is building a 348-unit apartment building named Oleander in Executive adjacent to the sports medicine complex.

Besides the existing Orthopaedics & Spine Center, Brain Health Center and Sports Medicine Complex, Emory’s other facilities at Executive Park include medical science education and health information technology.

North Druid Hills Road traffic is already a concern for anyone who lives and drives in the area. Morey said building out medical offices and a hospital rather than retail at Executive Park would result in fewer cars.

Emory officials say they will be making road improvements within Executive Park to provide easy access from the North Druid Hills corridor in and out of the site and with the addition of roundabouts that will facilitate on-site traffic operation while discouraging cut through traffic to Sheridan Road. Emory is also working with CHOA to align their main entrances.

The city of Brookhaven recently purchased 1.5 acres of an unused parking lot on Buford Highway with future plans for the Georgia Department of Transportation to build a bridge over I-85 and into Executive Park. The city says the new bridge would provide a second entryway into southern Brookhaven and would relieve some of the traffic on North Druid Hills Road.

Morey said Emory does not own the land in Executive Park where the bridge would go, but is aware of the city’s plans and supports the project.

Plans for Executive Park include 7 acres of public green space, 1.5 miles of new sidewalks and a half-mile multiuse trail that will connect to CHOA’s multiuse trail that leads to the Peachtree Creek Greenway. Providing alternative modes of transportation is also a way to help alleviate traffic, according to Emory.

At full build-out, Emory at Executive Park is estimated to generate $7 million in property tax revenue each year to Brookhaven, DeKalb County and the DeKalb County School District.

Emory is holding a community meeting on what is planned at Executive Park on May 20 at 6 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1438 Sheridan Road.

Emory representatives have been meeting for several months with residents living in LaVista Park, adjacent to Executive Park.

LaVista Park residents are gathering signatures to seek annexation into Brookhaven. One reason residents want to be annexed into the city is to have a say on what happens at Executive Park.

To be considered for annexation, 60 percent of property owners must sign on to do so. There are 960 parcels in LaVista Park, mostly single-family homes, and 1,214 voters, Lappin said.

LaVista Park’s civic association met with Brookhaven officials including Mayor John Ernst, Councilmember Joe Gebbia, Police Chief Gary Yandura and City Manager Christian Sigman late last year about the possibility of annexation. Lappin said they hope to make a formal request for annexation by the end of the year.

Brookhaven spokesperson Burke Brennan said the city is willing to consider any annexation request initiated by residents in a community. Last year the city approved the annexation of the Enclave at Briarcliff condominiums that includes 271 parcels on Westchester Ridge, adjacent to CHOA.

This story was updated May 2 to eliminate the sentence “Emory has no plans for any road projects or traffic improvements.” Emory is not paying for any major improvements to the I-85 and North Druid Hills Road interchange. Emory will be paying for road improvements within Executive Park and is also working with the Atlanta Regional Commission and Georgia Regional Transportation to contribute to potential other road projects once recommendations are made.

Dyana Bagby

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