Development just outside the Perimeter in Dunwoody could be creeping even closer to the busy interstate, though plans for a hotel and retail center overlooking I-285 hit a snag this week.
Developers hope to turn a grassy hill off Ashford Dunwoody Road into a complex with stores, restaurants and a hotel, according to documents filed with the city of Dunwoody. The 3.4-acre site is currently wedged between Ravinia Parkway and the I-285 west exit ramp to Ashford Dunwoody Road.
The developers, North Carolina-based GMC Real Estate, envision an eight-story hotel with 275 rooms, and six restaurant or retail spaces. Hines, the global real estate firm, owns the site and the several other “Ravinia” properties in Perimeter Center.
Kathy Zickert, an attorney representing the developers, said a hotel is a good fit for the area because of the growing number of offices and other developments in Dunwoody and Sandy Springs. State Farm, for example, is building a massive new campus along Perimeter Center Parkway, and the prospective “High Street” development could bring a mix of office space, retail and housing across the street.
Zickert cannot yet disclose what hotel will be at the complex, but she said it will be an Intercontinental Hotels Group brand, which includes Crowne Plaza, Regent and Holiday Inn. IHG’s American headquarters and a flagship Crowne Plaza hotel are already located at Ravinia properties in the Perimeter Center area.
The restaurant and retail offerings are also under wraps, but Zickert said many of them will be new to the Dunwoody and Atlanta market.
Guests at the hotel will have a good view of I-285. The Georgia Department of Transportation could possibly add new express lanes or a connector road directly adjacent to the property. City staff wrote in a memo that some trees on the land will likely be cleared to make way for the state’s future express lanes project.
The proposal needs rezoning approval from Dunwoody to move forward. At a City Council meeting Monday, however, it hit a snag when the council unanimously voted to send the proposal back to the city’s Planning Commission. That essentially restarts the extensive rezoning process, setting developers back several months.
Councilman Jim Riticher told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the development was pushed back because they discovered the application provided to the council was different than what the Planning Commission had previously approved. Specifically, he said, the planning board never got to see the traffic impact study conducted for the project.
“I hope it sends a message that any applicants needs to have their ducks in a row before they go before the planning commission,” Riticher said. “We take what our Planning Commission volunteers do seriously.”
Zickert, a prominent land use and zoning attorney in metro Atlanta, said she was “blindsided” by the decision. She came to the meeting Monday expecting to see the council discuss and vote on the plan.
“I’ve been doing this for 40 years. It was the first time I had absolutely no clue in advance of a hearing what was going to happen,” she said, adding that it “hurts on a professional level.”
She said the traffic impact study raised no major red flags, and the developers made a few infrastructure-related changes that were recommended by the city.
The plan could return to the Planning Commission next month for a hearing.
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