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Moreland Avenue project moves along

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On March 13, the Atlanta Zoning Review Board approved the Sembler Co.'s rezoning application for the Atlanta Gas Light property just south of Little Five Points in a 4-2 vote.

Sembler is looking to turn the 42-acre parcel into a massive mixed-use development, containing 590,500 square feet of retail space (including possibly a Target) and no more than 200,000 square feet of residential space.

But the March 13 vote wasn't a clear victory for Sembler. The zoning that the board bestowed upon the project wasn't exactly what Sembler asked for.

Under the zoning the board authorized -- which must still be approved by the City Council and mayor -- the developers would have to make the project more dense by either reducing retail space or squeezing more into less space.

A spokesman for Sembler says the company will ask the City Council to change the zoning back to what it originally requested.

The zoning board is just the latest body to chip away at Sembler's plans, attempting to turn it into a less suburban design.

The biggest push has been for more greenspace. Some Edgewood residents, with support from an Atlanta Regional Commission report, have asked for a minimum of 7 acres of the 42-acre plot be set aside for greenspace. But Sembler is holding fast at less than 2 acres.

Also at the meeting, Noel Khalil -- the owner of Columbia Pointe, a 52-unit apartment complex that will be torn down to make room for one of the big boxes on the property -- said he'd include low-income housing and give current residents of Columbia Pointe first crack at the new housing. Khalil is developing the residential section for Sembler.

The city planning staff unsuccessfully recommended that Khalil help pay for the residents' relocation expenses.

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