The Dunwoody City Council heard a proposal for a new Emory Healthcare medical office building at its Monday meeting. 

The property in question is 4553 North Shallowford Road, which was rezoned in 2012 as part of a larger redevelopment, according to city staff. The parcel and the adjacent property, 4555 Shallowford Road, were originally designated for future municipal use, but the project never came to fruition. 

The Emory Ambulatory Surgical Center now sits at 4555 North Shallowford Road. Alan Wieczynski of Breedlove Land Planning spoke on behalf of Summit Healthcare Group, who is working to purchase the land at 4553 North Shallowford Road from the city in order to develop the building for Emory Healthcare. 

Emory Healthcare seeks to demolish the two medical offices that are currently on the site and construct a three-story, 60,000 square-foot medical office, with 68 surface parking spaces and a 244-space parking deck. 

A rendering of the new Emory Healthcare building at 4553 North Shallowford Road.

A spokesperson for the city said the property purchase will be finalized after the rezoning is resolved. 

The applicant plans to reconfigure the connectivity between the surgical center at 4555 North Shallowford and the proposed building at 4553 North Shallowford. 

“There is now one shared entrance for the two properties,” Senior Planner Madalyn Smith said. “There is an additional entrance to the east, but this is aimed towards employees entering the top of the parking deck.” 

Emory Healthcare is also requesting a concurrent variance which would allow the proposed parking deck to impose on the rear setback of the property. The parking deck encroaches about 10 feet into the 30-foot setback, which backs up to a parking deck for the Dunwoody Gables apartment complex.

“Our current code is written to encourage structured parking,” Smith said. “However, parking decks are subject to the 30-foot rear setback, while surface parking lots are not subject to that 30-foot setback. It really disincentivizes the construction of a structured parking deck.” 

Smith said the applicant has not yet provided much detail in regards to tree preservation, but the applicant has stated their intent to preserve a specimen tree at the corner of the proposed parking deck and to preserve the existing canopy. 

“We feel that during the permitting phase, the applicant should work with the city arborist to develop a tree preservation strategy and plan,” Smith said. 

Councilmember Joe Seconder had questions about how many trees would have to be removed for the site plan. Wieczynski said they have plans to bring in a third-party arborist at the developer’s expense to work through tree preservation, in addition to the city’s arborist. 

“We would collaborate on solutions and then incorporate those collaborations into the permit,” he said. 

Wieczynski said Emory Healthcare anticipates the new medical office building will have somewhere from 25-35 physician providers, offering everything from family medicine to orthopedics. 

Councilmember John Heneghan had concerns about vehicle sound and light that might come from the extra traffic in the parking deck. Wieczynski said the deck will be open air, but the applicant had thought about ways to mitigate both sound and light. 

“The negotiations we had with staff was to make sure both levels of the deck would have some kind of structure that comes up to shield the headlights of vehicles,” Wieczynski said. 

Wieczynski also said that the applicant has committed to doubling the transition buffer on the east and the south of the parking deck. 

“That should have some level of sound mitigation,” he said. 

Wieczynski said that if the council approves the application, the goal would be to start construction in December of 2022. The item is expected to go back before the council at its next meeting. 

Sammie Purcell

Sammie Purcell is Associate Editor at Rough Draft Atlanta.