The Dunwoody City Council has hired an architectural firm to study what future development and economic growth could look like at Perimeter Center. 

Dunwoody, along with the Perimeter Improvement Districts (PCIDs), received a $120,000 Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) Grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) earlier this year, said Economic Development Director Michael Starling at a Nov. 8 council meeting. According to the ARC’s website, the Livable Centers Initiative is a grant program that incentivizes cities to offer more transportation and mobility options for residents, and to “re-envision their communities as vibrant, walkable places.” 

The city will match the grant with $30,000, which the council approved through CARES II grant funding at a July 12 meeting this year. Starling said the grant will be used to update the vision for the city’s portion of Perimeter Center.

A map of the project study area from Pond & Company’s proposal.

The council approved a contract with Pond & Company, a firm that has worked with the city on many projects in the past, including the master planning services for the new parks at Vermack Road and Roberts Drive. At a first read of the contract on Oct. 25, Mayor Lynn Deutsch said she was previously underwhelmed by Pond & Company’s work with public input on some projects.

“My goal is to maximize community input, and I’m always pushing our vendors to do more,” Deutsch said in an emailed statement. “After a decade of work in this arena, more than ever, I realize how important the facilitators are. I’ve been pleased by the final product that is delivered but want to make sure the process is as accessible and smooth as possible.”

At the Nov. 8 meeting, Deutsch elaborated and said the city has had trouble reaching people who live in the Perimeter Center and in multi-family housing through public input in the past.

“This project, from my perspective, won’t succeed unless we find a way to reach the people that live here,” Deutsch said. “I expect y’all to figure out how to get into the apartment complexes …  How are we going to assess what the people who live here already and make this area their home feel about what should happen here?”

Andrew Kohr, director of landscape architecture at Pond & Company, told the mayor that the firm “accepts the challenge.”

Pond & Company’s proposal identifies challenges the firm would like to address within the Perimeter Center, including a lack of greenspace, traffic congestion, and balancing the commercial with the residential. The company will hold at least two engagement meetings for the general public, but dates have not yet been announced. 

Pond & Company expects to complete the project by October 2022. 

Sammie Purcell is Associate Editor at Rough Draft Atlanta.