A new kind of project could be coming to Atlanta’s Memorial Drive. It’s being dubbed a “park-oriented development.”
According to the developers, it would be a mixed-use project designed around a greenspace that's planned for the area.
But the development is facing pushback from some who claim it could put the park it’s geared toward in jeopardy.
The site targeted for redevelopment is recognizable to many. It's near Oakland Cemetery, where the auto shop Harp Transmission operated for decades.
As he showed off the space, Philippe Pellerin of Pellerin Real Estate said he wants to keep it recognizable.
"What you would see here is about a 40-foot wide breezeway that'll be approximately 20 feet tall,” Pellerin said.
Pellerin pointed to where an outdoor walkway would run through the four-story structure they're proposing around the old auto shop.
While offices would be on the top levels, the whole ground floor would be for pedestrians, including the breezeway, a restaurant and some kind of retail, like a pet store.
"The vision for this site is a pavilion in a park,” said Jesse Clark of Clark Property R + D, who’s partnering with Pellerin on the project.
The problem for some is the new development would be on land they expected to be park space.
The park in question is the Memorial Drive Greenway, a planned linear greenspace that would stretch a mile from the cemetery to the state Capitol.
Greg Giuffrida, Memorial Drive Corridor Executive with Central Atlanta Progress, said the city has worked to buy property along Memorial Drive for years to make the greenspace a reality.
Now is a critical time to move forward, he said.
“We finally have the right combination of conditions, with the real estate market and urbanization, to carry out what the community envisioned a long time ago,” Giuffrida said.
The current zoning for the area was crafted with the park vision in mind, according to Giuffrida.
It’s intended to allow existing businesses along the corridor to continue operating, he said, but not open the door for the kind of redevelopment Pellerin and Clark are proposing.
To build office space on the property, the two developers will have to get the site rezoned. They’ve already applied to do so.
When asked about the city’s interest in the land, Pellerin said the Harp Transmission property just sat there. He said that with the new development, they finally want to turn the site into something the neighborhood can use.
According to Park Pride, which helped develop a plan for the Memorial Drive Greenway earlier this year, the city currently owns 10 parcels of 3.6 acres of the park as it’s envisioned.
Seven properties or 1.6 acres are privately owned, while another 6.9 acres are held by the Atlanta Housing Authority.