Friday, June 6, 2008

Development Tracker - Westside Crossing

The Sembler Group wants to build a big-box development near Home Park. This isn't news, at least I've known about it for a while. The fact that its taken until now for Home Park to pitch a fit about it is a little surprising, however.

And, frankly, Home Park should pitch a fit. Home Park worked with the Atlantic Station developers fairly successfully, I don't think their objections are unreasonable. Other developers seem to get along with Home Park:
Meanwhile, Pollack Partners plans to build 600 apartments next to the Sembler site. Burke said Pollack has worked closely with the community improvement association.

"They're acting like they're going to be very good neighbors," he said.
Sembler's response to the neighborhood's demands for structured parking and green space, per the existing master-plan?
But Burke said the company has shrugged off Home Park's ideas.

"Sembler's taking the approach that anytime we suggest something, like multilevel parking, that 'it's too expensive. We can't afford that,' " he said. "They're just not listening."
From what I've seen, Sembler likes to take hard-line approach with neighborhood groups (see their Druid Hills project), and I'm not exactly thrilled with what they build. I will be the first to complain that neighborhood groups can over-react, but I don't think this is one of those times.

Oh, and who is selling Sembler the land for the development? The GT Foundation. The same folks who have stepped in it on the other side of the highway. Sounds like the GT Foundation needs some PR/community relations help. I'm available for a fee... ;)


  1. this is very distressing. i love the west midtown/marietta st corridor, and this type of development would severely betray its character.

    the sembler development on ponce depresses me with its enormous surface lot, automobile congestion, and suburban feel.

    any suggestions for methods of derailing this development? full disclosure: i am a home park resident

  2. From the articles, it appears that the property is still under contract, so Sembler isn't on the hook yet. If they can't get rezoning or permit approval, I doubt they would follow through. It is currently zoned I2-Heavy Industrial, which does allow retail establishments. So I'm not sure that they will actually need to get rezoning. I'd say get involved with the Home Park group - this article indicates to me that they are going to play hardball PR-wise, which worked for the Druid Hills development. And of course, call your politician and let them know. You can try and make the bureaucratic mess at the City work in your favor (although it has gotten much better since Steven Cover took over).

    FWIW, my understanding of the Ponce development is that the neighborhoods actually killed any chance of a more forward-thinking development there. I have been told that the first planned development for the area was residential, and that later Sembler wanted to connect through to the movie theater. The Midtown folks nixed that because of traffic concerns. So Sembler went with something that did not require any rezoning, which of course was a suburban strip mall. The problem is that our zoning allows this stuff to be built.

    I can't source any of this definitively, but that is what I've heard from numerous folks in the development community, spanning several years time.


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