Brookhaven annexes 28 acres, setting stage for new complex’s development

After declaring victory in a spat with DeKalb County leaders, Brookhaven annexed 28 acres just south of the city, furthering plans to develop a new hotel, office complex and hundreds of apartments.

The Brookhaven City Council last week approved the rezoning and annexation for 19 parcels at Briarcliff and North Druid Hills roads. Several existing businesses, including a Target, Sherwin Williams, Chick-fil-A and Arbys, were welcomed into Brookhaven’s city limits, while nearly a fourth of the property — 6.7 acres — is planned to be developed into the Druid Hills Manor complex.

Developers from the Miami-based Related Group firm envision an apartment building with 382 multi-family units, a seven-story hotel, a matching parking deck and 55,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and office space. It will replace the shuttered Briarcliff Station shopping center, which is surrounded by the existing businesses and a residential neighborhood.

“It’s relatively small in the scheme of things, but what it is doing is of a major magnitude," Councilman Joe Gebbia, whose district encompasses the annexed area, said during the meeting. “Developers are saying they want to build in Brookhaven.”

Credit: City of Brookhaven

Credit: City of Brookhaven

The development plan has heightened tensions between city leadership and DeKalb Commissioner Jeff Rader. He previously tried to halt the plan by stalling the delivery of coronavirus relief funds and has continually criticized Brookhaven’s use of tax abatements offered to developers. Related Group previously requested a $2.5-million tax abatement for the project. The request is still pending.

ExploreOPINION: The Brookhaven way really pays for those already loaded

In September, a state arbitration panel found that the Druid Hills Manor plans can move forward, effectively green-lighting the project by placing no restrictions to impede its progress.

“Weak state law leaves only technical grounds upon which to challenge the annexation process,” Rader said Monday in an emailed statement, “so additional challenges would likely be ultimately denied.”

William “Woody” Galloway, an attorney representing the developers, celebrated the annexation and said the new complex will help the growing section of DeKalb. Nearby, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is constructing a $1.5-billion hospital, and Emory University has approved a $1-billion campus down the street.

“It meets all the requirements of good zoning policy and good lane use policy since it provides housing and development in close proximity to a major employment center because of what Emory and CHOA are doing right across the street," he said last Monday. "That makes all the sense in the world.”

Developers estimated rent for the new studio apartments would be around $1,290 a month. Ten percent of the units would be affordable “workforce housing,” per a City of Brookhaven requirement. Those studios would rent for about $800 a month, according to prior paperwork filed with the city.

Credit: The Related Group / City of Brookhaven

Credit: The Related Group / City of Brookhaven

Rader is not the only one who has voiced opposition to the development project. A handful of residents chimed in during the council meeting to raise concerns over traffic in the area.

“I’m supportive of the idea, but I am concerned about the implementation as it is currently proposed," resident Catherine Bernard said. "While we want to have apartments and we want to have services to service the thousands of new CHOA employees that are going to be coming in, that is a very dangerous intersection.”

A study estimated the new development would generate nearly 5,800 car trips every day, according to documents filed with the city of Brookhaven. Galloway said that a city traffic consultant determined that study overestimated the traffic impact the development will have on the area.

This annexation is the seventh in Brookhaven’s history since it was chartered in 2012. Last year, the city annexed the LaVista Park community, which consists of roughly 2,000 residents, and the city claims that is the largest single neighborhood annexation in Georgia history. AD McNaghten, the zoning coordinator for the LaVista Park Civic Association, told the city council that she supports the redevelopment plans.

It’s unclear when construction for the new complex will begin.

Follow DeKalb County News on Facebook and Twitter