Plan for Buckhead Walmart moves forward, with conditions

A proposal to rezone nearly 22 acres of property to allow for the construction of a mixed-use development in the Lindbergh area of south Buckhead is again moving forward, haltingly.

Wednesday, the Atlanta City Council’s zoning committee passed amended legislation that would allow the plan, which includes construction of a Walmart, to be considered by the full City Council on Monday. It would be at least the second time the council has taken up the matter.

The zoning committee tacked on more conditions, including a requirement that a full site plan be included in the public documents and that the developer convert some of the planned housing into affordable apartments for seniors.

Alex Wan, who chairs the zoning committee and whose district is expanding to include the area of the proposed Walmart, opposes the zoning changes that would allow the mixed use development to be built.

The area was zoned for high-density residential properties a decade ago after what Wan described as an exhaustive process.

“To me, not a good enough case has been made,” Wan said. “I have yet to see or hear a compelling argument to say, ‘Yes, we need to change it.’ There should be data saying there is a higher and better use of this land.”

Opponents have pushed back against the proposal to bring a Walmart to the area near the Lindbergh MARTA station. That plan calls for changing the land use designation to “high density mixed use” and “very high density residential.”

Atlanta developer Jeff Fuqua wants to build about 200,000 square feet of retail space and more than 200 apartments. Fuqua said his team could comply with the zoning committee’s additional demands.

Activists oppose plans to build another big-box store near an existing Home Depot, Target and Best Buy. The board of the neighborhood planning unit for the area has come out against the plan, although the city’s Zoning Review Board approved it.

Last week, the full City Council voted to send the proposal back to the zoning committee with 17 conditions, including better landscaping, the inclusion of a three-acre public park and shields to block exterior lighting from beaming into surrounding neighborhoods.

Fuqua, who is spearheading the $80 million project, says he is optimistic despite a review that has taken longer than he expected. The process started more than 18 months ago.

Fuqua said he believes most residents are not opposed to the project, and that pushback is coming from a small but vocal group of activists.

“From a development standpoint, we feel good about it,” Fuqua said. “We’re optimistic that we’ll achieve this land use change that we’re asking for. We are 100 percent committed to this site and this plan.”

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