Trammell Crow’s Alexan Gateway mixed use project clears big hurdle in AvondalePhoto obtained via the city of Avondale Estates website.
This story has been updated.
By Gabriel Owens, contributor
The Avondale Board of Mayor and Commissioners on Thursday, Aug. 30, voted 4 – 1 in favor of rezoning the city to allow Trammell Crow Residential to develop a a new mixed use project.
For 18 months, Avondale residents and the city have been debating, poring over and looking at the plans of Trammell Crow to create a mixed-use project on Maple Street and East College Avenue, which as of now is a 270-unit apartment complex and 7,100 square feet of future commercial space.
The city has been divided between residents for and against the project. The main point of contention is whether the development conforms to the city’s “master plan,” whether altering the zoning to accommodate the development is right for the city, and whether or not the city is following due process to create such a change.
A petition signed by hundreds of residents that looked to slow the development down for more study was presented to the City Commission. The online petition garnered nearly 600 signatures.
Another group of residents, all dressed in green (for “go”) showed up to give support to the zoning change.
“I’ve been here three years, and want to continue to be here,” said Hudson Rouse, owner of the Rising Son diner. “I want the new business that [it] will bring in, and I want to see Avondale succeed.”
“I’m not against development, but I question this process,” said another Avondale resident. “Processes are there for a reason, to slow down decisions to make sure they’re right for the community.
“I don’t think we’ve done enough research and community outreach to enact this, and I worry about what this decision will mean for future development.”
Trammell Crow gave a brief on their updated plan for the property, which included a lot of changes reflecting input from residents, a company spokesperson said.
The newly proposed plan has been scaled down from the initial idea, but not enough for some residents, and still violates the city’s master plan.
“We have a goal of growth, and also a desire for a walkable city,” said City Commissioner Adela Yelton. “A lot of thought went into this decision by all of [city commissioners].”
After two separate public comment sessions from the residents, the city officials voted 4 – 1 in favor of the rezoning to allow Trammell Crow to develop. Commissioner Lisa Shortell was the lone dissenting voice.
Shortell shared some of the concerns of the residents who spoke against the development.
Following the meeting, Shortell contacted Decaturish to clarify her thoughts on the matter.
“I said that the plan did not meet the [master plan] as is (of course, I only just saw the revisions last night and really did not even have a chance to study them) and that I had concerns about process,” she said. “I also said that the plan had improved greatly from where it was months ago.”
The original Trammell Crow plan was, according to their executive summary, a “286-unit multi-family rental project with 5,000 SF of ground level commercial (restaurant) space [now projecting a 270-unit apartment complex and 7100 square feet]. Total direct construction/development costs, including construction hard costs, FF&E, financing, permitting, A&E and other soft costs are currently estimated at $64 million. Of that amount, [estimates show] that roughly $53.6 million (84 percent) would directly impact the Atlanta Region’s economy, primarily in the construction industry sector, with the balance of spending benefiting the rest of Georgia and the nation.”
The city will now move forward with the rezoning and the Trammell Crow project, and the board promised to keep the Avondale residents engaged in every step along the way.