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City Planning Director Finds Problems with Glenwood Place Project

'Staff finds and concludes that the SAP application as currently submitted does not meet the requirements of the applicable zoning districts.'

Charletta Wilson Jacks, director of planning and community development for the city of Atlanta issued her long-awaited letter to Fuqua Development LLC, the Atlanta-based company looking to build a controversial retail project in Grant Park.

The project would create 199,050 square feet of retail space — which includes a 155,000-square-foot anchor tenant — by the spring of 2014.

It would be on the Williams Bros. Concrete Inc. site at 800 Glenwood Ave., off Bill Kennedy Way.

Jacks' 4-page letter, dated Nov. 20, notes Fuqua's special administrative permit application doesn't meet the required number of parking spaces — 1,075. The project, as presented in the application, calls for 1,021 parking spaces.

Her letter also notes that the planned project at 800 Glenwood Ave. falls under the BeltLine Overlay Zoning District, which has several guidelines for development of parcels that are within the district.

Among those guidelines are the BeltLine Overlay's requirements for street grids and trees.

The application as written, does not meet some of the guidelines established by the BeltLine Overlay, as well as the Connect Atlanta Transportation Plan.

"Staff finds and concludes that the SAP application as currently submitted does not meet the requirements of the applicable zoning districts," Jacks wrote.

"We look forward to receiving plans that are in accordance with the established requirements or inclusive of detailed request for administrative variations with the required hardship justifications."

Fuqua Development officials could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday, but the company does have the right to respond and appeal.

Below is Jack's letter:

November 20, 2012

Ms. Heather Correa, Partner

Fuqua Development Glenwood, LLC
Eleven Piedmont Building

3495 Piedmont Road, NE, Suite 905
Atlanta, Georgia 30305

RE: Special Administrative Permit (BL-12-035) for 800 Glenwood Avenue, S.E.

Dear Ms. Correa:

The Office of Planning (hereafter "Staff") has reviewed the Special Administrative Permit (SAP)  Application to determine the application’s compliance with the applicable zoning regulations. The purpose of this correspondence is to provide the Staff’ s comments on the subject application.

As you are aware, the subject property is zoned I-1 (Light Industrial) District and the Beltline Overlay Zoning District. The use as proposed is permitted by right in the I-1 zoning District. Due to its geographic location, the parcel is subject to standards of the Beltline Overlay District. The application materials submitted to our office indicate the following:

  • Parcel size: approximately 20 acres (or 870,975 sf)
  • 155,000 square foot major retail tenant 
  • 24,030 square feet of retail shops
  • 16,020 square feet of restaurants (one drive-through proposed) 
  • 4,000 square foot drive-through bank
  • 1,021 parking spaces provided
  • Total square footage proposed = 199,050 sf

The following adopted plans were consulted in our review of your proposal:

  • Connect Atlanta Transportation Plan
  • Beltline Subarea #4 Master Plan

In terms of parking, Staff notes that the proposed development will require a minimum of 1,075 spaces. The current plans do not meet the minimum parking requirements. Sections 16-3 6.004(2), 16-36.007(11), 16-36.020(1) and 16-16.009 do not grant the Office of Planning the administrative authority to grant a full-scale parking reduction or a parking reduction based on a shared parking arrangement where multiple users share parking during overlapping hours of operation. If you require a full scale reduction in parking, an application must be made to the Board of Zoning Adjustment. If the proposed multiple users will not overlap with their hours of operation, you can submit a request for a shared parking arrangement to the Staff for consideration.

The Beltline Overlay District provides the opportunity for applicants to request administrative variations to the Beltline zoning regulations that are applicable to the development plan. However, applicants must present a written justification for hardship for each variation request. Staff has identified several requirements that are not addressed on the plans. Administrative variations from the Beltline regulations would be required based on the current plan. The requirements that are not addressed are outlined below:

  • Section 16-36.011(1) Street grid and streetscape typology. The Beltline zoning regulations require adherence to an adopted street grid plan when applicable. The Atlanta City Council adopted two plans, Connect Atlanta Plan and Atlanta Beltline Master Plan - Subarea #4. Both plans establish a street grid site plan with the creation of four (4) new streets that connect to existing City streets. These include:
    • Chester Avenue
    • Faith Avenue Extension (Private Street “D”)
    • Kalb Street Extension (Private Street “C”)
    • New East-West Street between Faith Avenue and Glenwood Avenue

Furthermore, the Plan identified two streetscape typologies, one for Chester Avenue and Faith Avenue and a second type for the other private streets. The Plan identified the “Street/Multi-Family” type for the latter private streets and requires a 5’ wide street furniture zone and a 6’ wide sidewalk clear zone. Refer to the Plan for both streetscape typologies.

  • Section 16-36.007(7) Minimum street tree caliper size. The zoning regulations stipulate that street trees (planted in the sidewalk street furniture zone) shall have a minimum caliper of three (3) inches. The proposed plans show a minimum street tree caliper of two and one half (2.5) inches.
    • Section 16-36.017(1a) Maximum driveway curb cut widths. The proposed plans reflect an increase in curb cut widths off of private streets “C” and “D” to accommodate truck access, and increase the width for the Glenwood Avenue curb cut. 
    • Section 16-36.017(1b) Driveway curb cuts on arterial/collector streets. The proposed plans reflect a curb cut on Glenwood Avenue, classified as an arterial street, in addition to curb cut access from local streets (private streets “C” and “D”).
    • Section 16-36.017(1d) Maximum number of driveways curb cuts. The proposed plans reflect additional curb cuts on private Street “D”: two on the south side, and one on the north side.
    • Section 16-36.017(2) Driveway lanes. The proposed plans indicate driveway lanes to be installed parallel to the building and adjacent street instead of perpendicular. These driveways occur along the West side of the anchor retail tenant and behind the buildings fronting Glenwood and Chester Avenues.
    • Section 16-36.020 13). Minimum loading required. The proposed plans reflect an adjustment to the loading requirements to replace one of the required 12’ X 35’ loading spaces with two on-street loading spaces measuring 7.5’ X 20’.
    • Section 16-36.020(5). Placement of surface parking. The proposed plans reflect surface parking lots located between the building and the street for private streets “C” and “D”.
    • Fenestration. Staff is not able to verify that the fenestration requirements are being met for the building façades facing the private streets. Per Section 16-36.0l4(7) fenestration is required for a minimum of 65% of each building façade facing Bill Kennedy Way, Faith Avenue, Chester Avenue and Glenwood Avenue and a minimum of 30% of each building façade facing private streets “C” and “D”. Building façade elevations must be submitted for all building facades.

Although not a requirement of the applicable zoning districts, Staff also recommends the following items for consideration:

  • Transportation Improvements:
    • Glenwood Avenue: Provide a striping plan that shows:
      • Two lane roadway and turn lanes at Kalb Street
      • Five (5) feet wide bicycle lanes along both sides of the street
      • On-street parking along north side of Glenwood Avenue
      • Kalb private street: Align street intersection with new Maynard Jackson High School driveway curb cut. Coordinate with Atlanta Public Schools for intersection realignment.
    • Traffic signals: Conduct a traffic signal study for any proposed signals at Kalb Street/Glenwood Ave and Faith Ave/ Bill Kennedy Way.
    • Chester Avenue/Faith Avenue: Install a bicycle facility per City cycle track standard.
    • Private Street intersection: Construct private street intersections per City curb radius standard.
    • Retail anchor tenant entrance: Provide a building entrance near the corner of private street.
    • Retaining walls along Glenwood Avenue: Reduction of wall heights and the installation of a transparent railing system to enhance visibility of building storefronts. Staff suggests that the height of the retaining walls should not exceed the height of the adjacent higher grade sidewalk.


This correspondence includes exhibits to illustrate some of the recommendations mentioned above.

Staff finds and concludes that the SAP application as currently submitted does not meet the requirements of the applicable zoning districts. We look forward to receiving plans that are in accordance with the established requirements or inclusive of detailed request for administrative variations with the required hardship justifications. Please do not hesitate to contact me at 404-330-6145 if you have questions.

Charletta Wilson Jacks
Director

Cc. James Shelby, Commissioner, Department of Planning and Community Development
Enrique Bascuñana, Principal Planner

SEE ALSO:

  • Glenwood Place Development: Where it Stands Now
  • Southeast Atlanta Rallies for "Smart" Development
  • Rally Planned to Oppose Glenwood Place Project
  • NPU-W Opposes Glenwood Place Development
  • East Atlanta Resident Starts Online Letter Campaign Against Glenwood Place
  • NPUs Give Their Support in Opposition to Glenwood Place Project
  • Major Retail Planned at Glenwood
  • Online Petition To Stop Glenwood Place Project in Grant Park
Loren Heyns November 28, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Here's an illustration of the Chester Ave beltline trail concept: http://neighborhood.org/glenwood/beltline/concepts/trail/glenwood-trail-01.jpg
Alfredo J. Santiago November 29, 2012 at 05:46 AM
I agree with Robert. Yes, the city brought up a few details spelled out in the Beltline Sub Area-4 Plan but it ignored the main one which is that this site should be used for residential purposes with some office/institutional components. Not heavy retail. There is absolutely no residential component to this plan. Just read the city's review of the application above or the application itself for that matter. Forget what the sign says. The bottom line is that this development is after the $65K yearly average household income of this area and the 159,250 average daily traffic count that flows through I-20. These figures are taken from the Fuqua website. My fear, like Robert's, is that if we are not agressive then Fuqua will simply address the current concerns of City Planning, which ignore the big picture, and move on with building another Edgewood Retail District. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying we should keep the empty concrete lot that's currently there (I agree that a theater would be nice) but we need to ensure that the character and integrity of our neighborhoods are not only maintained but made better by whatever additions we allow. Neighborhoods are evolving organisms and wether ours becomes a "hip" urban version of suburbia or something truly unique is up to us. If you haven't already go to Facebook and search 800 Glenwood Ave. It's the NPU-W's page. The SPA in full detail and the fantastic NPU-W's response is there at the bottom.
Loren Heyns November 29, 2012 at 02:46 PM
In their response, the city reiterated that the Sub Area-4 plan identifies “Street/Multi-Family” residential for the property. The building fenestration specification above prevents construction without street facing frontages. In doing so, the city is rejecting the prison-style apartments at Linberg Place. They are also rejecting the fake facades used at Edgewood. The parking and street requirements mean that the developer will be required to work with the NPU. The city does NOT have a track record of rubber-stamping. I respect how actively the mayor works to save money by avoiding lawsuits.
Loren Heyns November 29, 2012 at 03:03 PM
If I were Fuqua, I'd prepare two designs - one awful one that showed what could be done within the guidelines of the beltline focus group. (ie. nine story buildings, narrow streets, little green space.) I'd prepare a second one with a main street, public square, varying elevation, 3, 5 and 7 story. I'd also reach out to Glen Castle to either include a connecting stairway or arts center on the bluff. If I were the owner of Glen Castle, I'd replace the one story former resale store building with a 5 to 7 story luxury hotel, condos and/or conference center next to the castle. I'd also like to see stadium seating similar to Grady on the east side of the high school track. A portion of the space below the seating could be used by the cement company since the seating would extend into their lot. The beltline trail would run adjacent to the road planned where the railroad currently resides. This approach would allow the high school to add additional parking on the south side of the seating. In return, the high school would agree to never fence-off the track, like Grady has done to protect the turf. In my imaginary world, the track and football field at Jackson High would remain accessible as a public recreation area.
Alfredo J. Santiago November 29, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Yes they did but in reference to the streets not the development itself: "The Plan identified the “Street/Multi-Family” type for the latter private streets and requires a 5’ wide street..". That's the only mention of multi family I find. I must be missing something. Look I'm not saying that we or developers need to excersise a dogmatic adherence to what the Beltline Plan suggests but if its just ignored entirely we could end up with a bunch of malls linked together by light rail and bike paths. Once one developer sets a precedent and gets its way then the whole concept is in jeopardy. I don't think the city would just rubber stamp the application but we are slowly climbing out of a recession and this is a lucrative project. You know how government can be when under economic stress. By the way Loren I think yours is a very interesting idea.

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