Ponce Primary Care, Cannella and Snyder lease office space at 315 W. Ponce de Leon AveThe property owners of 315 W. Ponce de Leon Ave. applied for a special exception for surface parking to allow Ponce Primary Care to lease the building. The Decatur City Commission denied that request. Photo is from Google Maps.
Decatur, GA — Law firm Cannella and Snyder and Ponce Primary Care are leasing office space at 315 W. Ponce de Leon Ave.
Peter Kruskamp, president and qualifying broker for The Shumacher Group, secured the lease. The Shumacher Group represented the tenant, newly formed Cannella and Snyder, which consists of partners Tedra Cannella, Rob Snyder, and Rory Weeks, according to a blog post from The Shumacher Group.
Cannella and Snyder represent plaintiffs in major personal injury, product liability, and whistleblower cases.
Ponce Primary Care also moved into the 10-story building after trying to request a special exception from the Decatur City Commission. Kruskamp confirmed the move and added that Oakhurst Reality represented the landlord in the deal.
Decaturish has reached out to Oakhurst Realty seeking comment, but has not received an immediate response.
Ponce Primary Care was previously located at 402 W Ponce de Leon Ave, but is now located in suite 110 at 315 W Ponce de Leon Ave.
The Decatur City Commission, at its Sept. 7, 2021 meeting, denied an application for a special exception that would allow a surface parking lot between the street and the side of the building at 315 W. Ponce de Leon Ave, which was previously a bank drive-thru.
The applicant, Laurel David, an attorney with the Galloway Law Group, requested that the existing drive-thru lanes and ancillary parking be converted to off-street parking. The property owners also planned to re-stripe the existing paved areas for parking and proposed no other improvements to the property, according to the application for special exception.
The property owner planned to stripe 25 spaces originally, but reduced the number to 18 parking spaces.
“The parking will allow a medical office tenant to provide services from the ground floor of the existing building and provide dedicated accessible parking for its patients,” the application states.
Ponce Primary Care, which is currently located at 402 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., wished to move to the new location at the corner of West Ponce de Leon Avenue and Ponce de Leon Place. Their current lease will be ending within the next year and the office hopes to remain in downtown Decatur.
The proposal was approved by the city’s Planning Commission and was first brought to the City Commission on Aug. 16, 2021. David asked for a deferral to allow more time to work with residents regarding their concerns. The Planning Commission recommended approval with the conditions that the surface parking lot be arranged similarly to plans that were submitted in May and that trees must be planted in the existing green space between the proposed surface parking and the sidewalk.
The property is located in the downtown Decatur special pedestrian area, which drew concerns from residents about the surface parking at the time.
“We already lost that green space in front of the building,” Decatur resident Mary Karwoski said at the Aug. 16 meeting. “While this is on a side street, it would give us an opportunity to bring back some of that green space and to have an opportunity for the trees to actually develop a mature canopy, much the way the trees in the parking lot previously had a mature canopy and really shaded that parking lot well.”
Decatur resident Kathie Gannon said at the Aug. 16, 2021, meeting that she would like to see a compromise that would increase green space, decrease the amount of concrete and allow for pedestrian-oriented green space.
She added that the property already has a special exception, and the city commissioners shared that concern at the Sept. 7 meeting about granting another special exception.
“I would like to add that this property already has a special exemption for 60 parking spaces on the west side of the building. They received that in 2013,” Gannon previously said. “I just would have problems with an additional benefit of that kind of exception to financial benefit without some kind of return to the community both to the Decatur public as well as the neighborhood in terms of some kind of pedestrian way to improve that area.”
The City Commission ultimately denied the application, and the commissioners raised similar concerns. Commissioner George Dusenbury mentioned that in the city’s strategic plans, there has been a vision for what the city wants downtown Decatur to look like. That vision is not one of surface parking lots, he said.
“What we envisioned was kind of more of a vibrant downtown community that’s walkable,” Dusenbury previously said. “We take lots of pride in our walkability.”
He added he sees a vision and desire to basically get rid of surface parking in downtown Decatur and reduce pedestrian and vehicle conflicts.
“To me, this is a case study of one of these uses that was supposed to go away as Decatur developed. By granting this exemption we are actually allowing a new use for the parking, so it’s not that it’s going away, we’re actually enhancing it,” Dusenbury said.
Building owner Bruce Tamarkin, with Redstone Investments, said he’d agree to never use the drive-thru on the property.
“Since we started the process, we have made a lot of concessions. We’re not changing the parking lot, we’re just reusing the parking lot. Since that time, we’ve agreed to had a hedgerow. We started with two trees per the arborist on our first call and we’ve gone to three trees,” Tamarkin said. “We’ve added a park bench. We’ve removed seven spaces. The only thing we haven’t agreed to do this whole process is to remove pavement and add grass. All that grass, that’s not really going to change, from what I hear about pedestrian traffic and car traffic, that’s not going to change that.”
Mayor Patti Garrett agreed with the commissioners that it didn’t seem like enough was brought back to the city commission at the time to move the needle forward in terms of what the community was asking for.