The predominate push for creating walking city centers with public transportation has reached a particularly high level in North Atlanta– especially at
Sandy Springs, Perimeter Center, & Dunwoody.
The Big One came this week, with the re-announcement of the High Street mega-development at Perimeter Center in Dunwoody.
Originally announced in 2005, the 42 acre site is across the street from the Dunwoody heavy-rail MARTA station. Developers say it will total 8 million square feet at complete build-out– with a million feet of office space, 400,000 sq ft of retail/restaurant, a 750-room hotel, and 3000 residential units. The buildings look to be preliminarily 8-14 stories mostly, with a 30-story tower or so.
The outstanding element, other than the grand scale of the project, is it’s urban design. The site has been divided into walkable blocks with a main oblong boulevard surrounding a central green. Unusual for Atlanta, it actually has a main axis and central focal point. Other than the Beaux-arts layout, the new design shows more modernist leanings than the last design– with a hint of Art Deco and neo-industrial. Many trees, green spaces, plazas, and water features humanize the monumental scale.
I like that the design looks like different buildings have been designed by various architects over time, the way a real city grows. Now, whether they can actually pull that off is yet to be seen.
The Perimeter Center district lies about half in Sandy Springs and half in Dunwoody,
with a bit to the south in Brookhaven, but its all Atlanta. That makes odd sense, I know. The area may be the top office sub-market in Atlanta, with Downtown, Midtown, Buckhead, and Cumberland close behind.
Atlanta gets many more office buildings than most cities, because it is such an important business hub. It is home to the nations fourth highest number of Fortune 500 companies in the US.
Across the street, State Farm Insurance is under construction with its mega-office center. Currently it is building a 26-story tower, but the 17 acre walkable campus will be 2.2 million sq ft when completed. Plans included retail and hotel, but may be in flux.
Perimeter Mall just announced a 16-story office building of their own on the same corner, nearly, as the two projects above, with MARTA at the center.
The foreground of the picture above is the site of proposed 1201 Hammond Drive, which includes 780,000 square feet of office space, 300,000 square feet of retail space, a 350-room hotel, and 200 residential units.
Hines Ravinia, also, plans 37,000 square feet of retail space to accompany the office campus designed by architects Kevin Roche & John Dinkeloo back in the 80’s, now designed to make its area more walkable.
Over in Dunwoody Village, the original 1970’s ersatz Williamsburg commercial center of the residential bedroom community has been newly planned to look a bit like Georgetown, in D.C.
Good luck with that… it may happen, just will take a few years, like everything.
Just across GA-400, in the Sandy Springs portion of Perimeter Center, three mid-rise luxury apartment buildings and townhouse rows are completed or under construction.
One MARTA Station north is the Sandy Springs station
with several proposals around it. The largest is a Chinese backed mixed-use redevelopment of 1117 Perimeter Center.
The post-modern pink granite hexagonal office building was, incidentally, built on top of my buddy’s home while growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. He was the preacher’s son at my family’s church. At the time, it was a new subdivision of traditional two-story homes. We sometimes ate at the Morrison’s Cafeteria of newly opened Perimeter Mall after church on Sundays.
I digress, but a few years later, the neighborhood and the church were all gone. Today, 5 skyscrapers are planned with retail around the hexagon.
Just across GA-400, Mercedes-Benz is building their new modernist North American headquarters.
And a couple of miles west is the center of 1950’s-60’s suburb,
Sandy Springs, which is being re-built as brick modernist City Springs. It is under construction at the intersection of Johnson Ferry, Mt. Vernon, and Roswell Roads. Sandy Springs just became a city a decade ago, and did not need a “downtown”, previously, because
Downtown Atlanta was it’s downtown, 13 miles south.
But, building a walkable village will be a wonderful addition to the area. Having too few upgrades since it’s 1960’s shopping plazas, it was rundown and really needed updating. In fact, Roswell Road was already so ugly back then, when I was a teen, that Sandy Springs was called the “Golden Ghetto”!
In the plan above, you can see a major part of Sandy Springs planning is for transit in addition to the 3 MARTA stations they already have. Studies are being made for monorails, pods, and gondolas to connect with MARTA and possibly transit in Brookhaven, Chamblee and Dunwoody.
Eight miles north-east, even Peachtree Corners is planning a small downtown area, across Peachtree Industrial from The Forum Shops, and to be connected by an “iconic” pedestrian bridge. The 5 preliminary designs for the bridge are shown.
Although Peachtree Corners is building to become more walkable, it has no current plans for transit.