Residents told the North River Shopping Center property owner its redevelopment plans should make green space available for community use and that workers should be able to afford to live there.
Stream Realty representatives told Sandy Springs residents at the first of two required community information meetings on Jan. 9 about plans to file a rezoning request for its North End shopping center to the city’s newest zoning district, NEX-5/6 (North End Mixed-Use). The new zoning classification was created specifically for North River and two other shopping centers.
An overflow crowd at the River Ridge Office Building Conference Room was joined by approximately two dozen virtual attendees. They heard from the developer’s attorney, Jessica Hill, about plans to build 81 townhomes and 242 apartment units on the property, with 15,600 square feet of new retail space on the approximately 13 acres.
With the existing zoning they can build apartments and townhomes, said Ben Hautt, executive managing director & partner for Stream Realty. The new zoning allows for wood construction of apartments. Steel has become too expensive to build apartments, he said.
As Stream Realty does not build townhomes, the company signed an agreement with Empire to construct the 81 townhomes. Empire was chosen because all it does is build townhomes for sale, Hautt said.
Most of the existing shopping center would be demolished. But approximately 38,000 square feet of the 120,000 square feet of existing retail space would be kept due to long-term leases, he said.
The property would be accessed from Dunwoody Place and Roswell Road with right in, right-out access, and North River Parkway with full access. The Georgia Department of Transportation already has plans for improvements to Roswell Road that would include pedestrian improvements and a traffic signal at North River Parkway, he said.
The rezoning process will take the greater part of the year, he said. If it goes through architecture, permitting and civil design will be next and take another year. Then another two years will be needed to build the project.
“So absolute lightning speed, we’re talking four years from today. With the way interest rates are gone right now, it’ll probably be extended because we’ll need those to come down and those aren’t supposed to come down until 2024,” he said.
The apartments will rent at market rates. Since his company won’t be building the townhomes, Hautt said he didn’t have a sales price for them.
Residents said they wanted connectivity to the Chattahoochee River and trails.
“Part of the reason why we made the investment in Sandy Springs in this location in the North End specifically is because of the river and the trail system,” Hautt said.
One of the residents said this project will be the catalyst for redevelopment in the North End. She wanted to know what Stream Realty was doing to include affordable housing.
Hautt referred to National Affordable Housing Coalition, whose remedy for affordable housing is to add supply. That should put downward pressure on housing prices, he said.
The next community information meeting will be on Jan. 30 at Sandy Springs City Hall, 1 Galambos Way. The Sandy Springs Planning Commission should hear the rezoning request on March 22, with City Council taking it up in April.