Residential mixed-use planned for ‘ugly corner’ in busy section of Sandy Springs

A new mixed-use development planned for downtown Sandy Springs is already welcomed by residents and commercial businesses, but the project is also raising concerns about affordability.

And Mayor Rusty Paul said the project will exacerbate the imbalance of rental units to owner-occupied housing in Sandy Springs.

Shelton McNally Real Estate Partners plan to build a six-story development with a total of 7,350 square feet of retail and co-working office space and 199 apartment units at 5810 Roswell Road. NAPA Autocare is currently located at the site that Paul describes as overall “an ugly corner” between Allen Road and the I-285 entrance.

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During the Tuesday meeting, City Council approved rezoning of the 1.35-acre site to allow six stories in maximum height for the new construction. The Roswell Road property is a short distance from the entrance to I-285 and currently designated as City Springs — three stories in maximum height.

Property owner James C. Parks Jr. is selling to Shelton Real Estate. The property has been under contract since November, said Conor McNally, a principal of the firm, during the meeting. He did not reveal the selling price but a document posted online by selling agent Keller Knapp shows the property had an offer price of $4 million before it went under contract.

Credit: Courtesy Sandy

Credit: Courtesy Sandy

Fully developed, the mixed-used project could be a visual gateway to downtown Sandy Springs which residents and most officials applaud. The rezoning was approved 6-1 with Councilwoman Dr. Melody Kelley voting in opposition.

“I felt it would be irresponsible to ... grant additional density without securing a commitment from developers to address some of the unmet needs of our community like greenspace and housing,” Kelley said via email Wednesday.

Paul, who did not vote, said he supports the measure but considered vetoing it, if approved. The mayor wants more owner-occupied housing and affordability, he said. About 64% of housing in Sandy Springs are rentals.

“We’ve cut off a whole generation of people from the ability to create family wealth,” Paul said. “This is an ugly corner ... I have decided it’s probably going to be the best utilization of this corner that we’re going to get ... But I am very conflicted about this project.”

The median listing price of a Sandy Springs home in August was $695,000, according to realtor.com.

Similar to Kelley, residents David and Melanie Couchman said during public comment that affordable workforce housing appeared to no longer be a city priority.

Melanie Couchman noted points made in a 2020 Sandy Springs housing study showing that if low and moderate income households can’t afford to live in the city then some employers would locate elsewhere.

McNally said the developer would be open to an “offsetting economic incentive” that would lower some rents but he had not been informed of such a policy.

“But ultimately at its core, again, this is a housing supply issue and the way to combat it is to build more housing,” he said. “And what we’re proposing today is to take an under utilizing 1.35 site and build (199) units ... that will increase the supply of housing in the city.”

McNally did not return a phone call and email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.