St. Martin’s Episcopal School on Ashford Dunwoody Road in Brookhaven.

St. Martin’s Episcopal School terminated a contract to purchase seven acres of land for a controversial sports facility at 3074-3086 Osborne Road in Brookhaven.

The move is “purely economical,” St. Martin’s Board Chair Shara Sanders said on Sept. 20. 

St. Martin’s had planned to build a gymnasium and field on the lot, which caused a stir in 2022. Lynwood neighbors fought the deal, arguing that a sports facility would bring trash and noise. The city of Brookhaven voted in November 2022 to change zoning to R-75 (residential).

An email to the school community written by Sanders said significant changes in the real estate market led to the decision. Moving forward with the purchase was “no longer in the best interest of St. Martin’s, as the materially higher borrowing costs (nearly double those originally budgeted) would put unnecessary stress and strain on the school and our families.”

The Osborne Road property was no longer the low-cost, low-risk option as when the school signed in 2022, the email stated.

“We all were disappointed, but it was our fiduciary duty and fiscal responsibility that led to the decision,” Sanders said. 

Sanders said the private school, which serves students from preschool to eighth grade, is not looking for a different property at this time.

“Right now we are looking to do some strategic planning. We already have our Ashford Dunwoody campus and our High Point campus. We also have a new head of school, so we are taking the time now to re-examine,” Sanders said.  

In 2018, the school purchased a similar-sized property for $3.1 million at 5455 Buford Highway in Doraville. When the Brookhaven property became available in 2022, St. Martin’s planned to sell the land in Doraville to finance the land in Brookhaven. Delays in selling the Doraville property and “a reduction in purchase price” led to Brookhaven falling through, the school said.  

According to city of Doraville documents, St. Martin’s received a Conditional Use Permit in 2018 for athletic fields and associated facilities on these properties. That development never materialized. In 2020, the properties were originally included in the city-initiated rezoning of the entire corridor, but were dropped at the request of St. Martin’s.

Doraville documents show St. Martin’s sold the property to residential developer RangeWater, who will be breaking ground this month on a multifamily development.

Logan C. Ritchie writes features and covers Brookhaven for Rough Draft Atlanta.