February 2016

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On Tuesday, February 9th, the Midtown Development Review Committee (DRC) reviewed a proposal from Dewberry Capital to reposition the Campanile office building with a major vertical expansion and a street-level build-out around the perimeter of the existing tower.  Originally constructed in the mid-80’s, Campanile is located on the southeast corner of Peachtree and 14th Street.  It comprises 446,000 SF of office space, with 140 parking spaces located below grade and an additional 680 spaces in a freestanding deck on the east side of Juniper Street.  Dewberry's expansion plans would add 150,000 sf of Class “A” office space in six new floors added to the top of the 20-story tower along with 77,000 sf of retail, restaurant and office space added around the base of the building.


Overall, the committee applauded the applicant's intention to convert the suburban design into a more dynamic building, with active uses befitting an urban experience.  However, acknowledging the significant investment of adding floors to the building, the committee encouraged the applicant to make the addition to Midtown's skyline a memorable one.  The committee expressed some concern about the proposed configuration of the retail spaces and the feasibility of service and loading.  They challenged the applicant to rethink the layout to maximize functionality and access for future tenants.  Due the non-conforming conditions which predate the SPI-16 zoning ordinance, the committee was supportive of a variation to allow a reduction in the minimum streetscape requirements in order to facilitate the development of new street-level retail and restaurant spaces.  Planning staff noted that the size of the proposed office expansion necessitates a Transportation Management Plan with strategies to reduce single occupancy vehicle trips generated by the project by at least 25% over 5 years.  The applicant must submit that plan to the City before a Special Administrative Permit can be issued.

 

March 2016

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The Midtown Development Review Committee (DRC) reviewed two major, mixed-use projects on Tuesday, March 8th, both of which will bring even more amenities and energy to Tech Square. 


High Performance Computing Center
Portman's new mixed-use development consists of three buildings: a 21-story office tower, a three-story data center and the existing Crum & Forster building. Located on the east side of Spring Street, between Armstead Place and 4th Street, the project includes approximately 620,000 SF of office, a 100,000 SF data center, 46,500 SF of street-level retail, and 600 parking spaces. The two wings of the office tower connect vertically through a stair tower that provides the opportunity for collaborative space between floors. The site plan is anchored by a large public gathering space intended to function as an "outdoor living room." The public plaza is being designed by Thomas Balsley Associates and will act as the hinge between the Tech campus and the Midtown community. Preliminary place-making schemes for the plaza include design elements such as landscape features, cloud columns, organic land forms, communal seating and video screens to define and activate the space. The Development Review Committee commended the applicant for the energy and creativity incorporated into initial concepts for the plaza space. The committee also challenged the applicant to reimagine how similar treatments could be employed to create stronger connections between the buildings and the public sidewalks, at a more human scale. The committee requested further study in several key areas of the overall design: (1) the façade treatment of the data center, particularly along Armstead Place, (2) the ground floor storefront spaces around the perimeter of the project, (3) the east and west entrances into the public plaza as well as more specificity about the components that will be used to create a sense of place within the middle third of the site plan. The applicant will make a follow-up presentation at a subsequent DRC meeting to provide this information.


The Standard
The Standard is the proposed mixed-use student housing development by Landmark Properties and Selig Enterprises on the southwest corner of Spring Street and 4th Street. The 19-story project includes 280 furnished residential units for students and 11,200 SF of commercial space at the street-level. Parking is provided in a 10-story precast parking deck that is wrapped with residential units on the street-fronting facades. The Development Review Committee challenged the applicant to rethink the vehicular circulation associated with the Starbucks in order to remove the curb cut on Spring Street. Removing this curb cut achieves multiple objectives that are fundamental to the Blueprint Master Plan: it will maintain the integrity of the pedestrian environment, allow for more retail space and on-street parking, and afford more opportunities to add usable open space at the street level (the current proposal reaches 90% of usable open space required by Midtown's zoning code).


Additionally, the committee asked for further study of the ground floor facades, with an emphasis on increased transparency around the leasing office on Spring Street and more activity and visual interest within the bike storage area on 4th Street. Bike maintenance facilities are necessary amenities in student housing developments and the committee encouraged the applicant to feature this space more prominently in the design by incorporating wall-mounted bike parking and bike repair equipment. The applicant will make a follow-up presentation at a subsequent DRC meeting to provide this information.       

 

April 2016

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On Tuesday, April 12th, the Midtown Development Review Committee (DRC) reviewed three major development projects and a demolition proposal.


High Performance Computing Center
Portman Holdings returned to the DRC to present an update to the High Performance Computing Center, located on the east side of Spring Street, between Armstead Place and 4th Street. The project includes approximately 748,500 SF of office space, street-level retail/restaurant space, a data center and the existing Crum and Forster building, as well as 600 parking spaces below grade. The design team continues to refine several key aspects of the project, including the street level façades and the central plaza located between the 21-story office tower and the 3-story data center. The committee requested further refinement of the façade treatment on the data center, as well as a consolidated concept for the plaza space that reflects the best elements of the various schemes presented to date. 


The Standard
Landmark and Selig Enterprises' student housing project at the southwest corner of Spring Street and 4th Street also returned to the DRC for a second review. The revised proposal for the 19-story project includes 252 furnished residential units for students and 10,630 SF of commercial space at the street-level, including Starbucks coffee, which is currently located on the site. Parking is provided in a 10-story precast parking deck that is wrapped with residential units on the street-fronting façades. The committee requested several changes to the ground floor layout along the Spring Street frontage to improve safety and visibility by relocating a pedestrian breezeway and the fire command center.


195 Thirteenth Street
A new 27-story multifamily project on 13th Street by Lennar Multifamily Communities debuted at the DRC. The proposal includes 307 rental units with lobby, lounge, leasing and mailroom space on the ground floor. Parking is provided in a 7-level above-grade parking deck that is wrapped with residential units on the street-fronting façade and is topped with residential units and a courtyard.  The project is still in a preliminary design phase and the applicant was asked to submit more detailed elevations and a refined landscape plan prior to final approval by the DRC.


1053, 1057 and 1069 Juniper Street
Restaurant group Metrotainment Cafes introduced a proposal to remove two existing vacant structures at 1069 and 1057 Juniper Street in order to provide additional valet parking space for Einstein’s and Joe’s on Juniper. This was a preliminary presentation to gauge the committee’s support for site plan and streetscape improvements along the segment of Juniper between 11th and 12th Street.  The applicant is exploring several options that would address functional  issues associated with valet parking operations and also provide a unique public space amenity for restaurant patrons and the surrounding community.


May 2016

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Three projects presented at May's Development Review Committee (DRC) on Tuesday, May 10th: a revised medical office proposal adding more restaurant and retail space; a new hotel project at Peachtree and Ponce; and a new taco and tapas spot across from the Midtown MARTA station.


Medical Office Project, 1130 West Peachtree Street
This project was previously reviewed and approved in January 2014. Since then, Brand Properties has acquired more land and revised the plans to enhance overall efficiency and incorporate additional active uses at the street level. The revised design relocates the 10-story tower to front West Peachtree Street and will include 154,207 square feet of office use and 25,412 square feet of retail and restaurant use. The architect, Cooper Carry, was asked to provide additional detail about the facades and a proposed building arcade that addresses topography along the West Peachtree frontage. A new variation was requested to allow generators to be located within the first 20 feet behind the building facade on 13th Street. The committee opted to withhold support for this request until a more perspicuous set of the building elevations is provided by the applicant.


Babalu Tacos and Tapas, 33 West Peachtree Place 
Babalu Tacos and Tapas is a 5,200 SF, first generation tenant build out of a restaurant in the corner space at 33 Peachtree Place. The shell building is currently under construction, and the final exterior materials on the shell building will be stone and stucco veneer. The Babalu design will include operable storefront windows, ample patio seating, wood planters to provide a landscape buffer around the patio, and an aluminum louvered architectural shelter to cover a portion of the patio seating. There will also be an indoor/outdoor bar area with seating. The DRC recommended support for this project.
Hotel Project with Public Parking, 640 Peachtree Street


Noble Investment Group proposed an 18-story hotel project located at the southwest corner of Peachtree Street and Ponce de Leon Avenue. The development would consist of approx. 238 hotel rooms, a public parking garage with approx. 250 spaces, and ground-floor restaurant/retail space with a second floor bar area and a small terrace overlooking Peachtree Street. The design concept presented by the architect, TVS Design, was preliminary and the committee challenged the team to respect the project's unique location within one of Atlanta's most historic intersections. With architecturally significant neighbors like The Fox Theater, the Georgian Terrace and the Ponce Condominiums on the other three corners, the design of the hotel should embrace a contextually sensitive approach. The applicant was asked to continue to develop the concept and present a more detailed set of elevations at a subsequent meeting.

 

June 2016

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Metrotainment Cafes presented a preliminary plan to the Midtown Development Review Committee (DRC) on Tuesday, June 14th. The plan redevelops the frontage between Einstein's and Joe's on Juniper in order to improve valet operations and create a privately-owned public amenity that will add to the vitality of Midtown street life. Envisioned as a finely tuned pocket park that fronts on Juniper Street, this new open space will allow for casual seating, small-scale entertainment and public presentations. It will include a small venue for selling ice cream and other snacks to restaurant patrons and passers-by throughout the day and evening. The space is designed with the intent to complement the neighboring restaurants while providing a relaxed urban experience amid the surrounding high-rise environment. The DRC was generally supportive of the overall concept, recognizing the unique niche it could fill in terms of providing small-scale flex space for informal gatherings and passive recreation. However, the committee suggested modifying the overall design aesthetic to be more urban in character. They encouraged the team to explore a refined material palette and embrace a contextually sensitive approach to the architecture. The committee requested a follow-up presentation once the team has had time to incorporate the feedback and produce revised elevations.    

 

July 2016

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OHM Atlanta's 98 14th Street and Trillist's 1138 Peachtree Street projects are moving forward, Trillist has another mixed-use tower underway, and Metrotainment Cafés refines its proposed open space amenity on Juniper Street.


98 Fourteenth Street NE
Olympia Heights Management (OHM) made an initial presentation to the Development Review Committee (DRC) in April 2014 and obtained approval to move forward with site improvements for their master-planned development located at 98 Fourteenth Street, commonly referred to as the former "Symphony Site." They returned to the DRC on Tuesday, July 12th, to present plans for the first phase of the project - a 74-story tower comprised of 382 luxury residential units, 180 corporate suites, 60,370 SF of retail, and 825 structured parking spaces. When completed, the 920-foot tower would be the second tallest in the City, behind Bank of America. The project was well-received by the DRC who acknowledged its clean, modern lines, elegant proportions and timeless design. Comments from the committee focused on practical concerns such as the provision of ample stacking space for vehicles to facilitate efficient valet operations. The committee also encouraged the development team to seek out exceptional, destination-oriented restaurateurs to capitalize on the premium location and potential for unique outdoor dining within the rooftop garden directly accessed from Peachtree Street.       


SLS Atlanta Hotel & Residences
Trillist introduced a new luxury hotel project under the SLS flag at the July DRC meeting.  Located at the intersection of Crescent Avenue and 13th Street, the proposed 42-story tower would contain 213 hotel rooms, 56 condo units, and 12 levels of podium parking. The DRC commended the development team for their collaborative approach in working with adjacent property owners to create a central service area that would reduce the need for curb cuts. The committee also noted the applicant’s artful approach to activating the streetscape around the base of the project, but they stressed the need to simplify the myriad opportunities for creative engagement within the pedestrian realm. Strong elements of the design included a public terrace at the hotel entrance which creates an outdoor living room and provides a buffer between the porte cochère driveway and Crescent Avenue sidewalk. The applicant requested several variations and was asked to revise them for clarity prior to receiving a formal recommendation from the DRC.     


1138 Peachtree Street
Trillist also presented an update to their planned project at 1138 Peachtree Street, which complements their hotel/condo project across the street on the west side of Crescent Avenue. Together, the two projects reinforce Trillist’s vision for a unique pedestrian experience in the Crescent Street area and they create the opportunity for connections into a future Midtown Art Walk contemplated along the Peachtree Walk corridor. The proposed design features a 45-story residential tower fronting Peachtree Street (323 apartments) with three levels of retail at the base (21,500 SF). Retail/restaurant space would be accessed both from Peachtree Street and Crescent Avenue. Over 600 parking spaces would be provided in a ten-level deck located on the Crescent Avenue side of the property. The overall design has evolved in a positive direction since the previous version submitted in January 2014. In particular, the elevations are more refined, consistent with the sleek modernism of the proposed hotel project across the street. The committee was receptive to the upgraded finish materials on the exterior and recommended support for the project.


1053, 1057 and 1069 Juniper Street
Metrotainment Cafés returned to the DRC to present an updated demolition and redevelopment plan for the existing vacant structures located between Einstein’s and Joe’s on Juniper. The proposed concept redevelops the frontage in order to improve valet parking operations and create a privately-owned public amenity that will add to the vitality of Midtown street life.  The architecture of the structure was revised to reflect comments made by the committee at the June meeting. Namely, the material palette was refined to reduce the amount of heavy timber and add more steel, consistent with an urban aesthetic. The committee requested additional detail on the overall site plan including the parking layout and the lighting and landscape plan.  


August 2016

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The economic development generator that is Tech Square continues to see more development in its immediate vicinity. On Tuesday, August 9th, the Midtown Development Review Committee (DRC) received a proposal for the second phase of development at Spring and 8th Streets. The DRC also reviewed two additional proposals - proposed enhancements to the Academy of Medicine property, and renovations to a low-rise residential building on Eleventh Street. 


Spring @ 8th Street
Cousins presented plans for the second phase of their development located at Spring and 8th Street. Phase II will have a direct connection to the first phase, already in construction, and will add another 240,500 SF of corporate office space, nearly 10,000 SF of retail at the street level and parking spaces for approximately 515 cars. The DRC was complimentary of the overall composition and the contextually sensitive approach to integrate the second phase with the surrounding urban fabric. The design seeks to reference the distinctive elements and building materials used in Phase I, while also responding to the more traditional campus style architecture of Tech Square, immediately adjacent on the south. The committee had questions about the southern end of the building and the outdoor patio underneath the overhang of the parking garage.  A lack of transparency and limited lighting makes this space unnecessarily dark. The committee requested further exploration of the details in this area. The applicant was asked to resubmit updated elevations of the Spring Street facade to illustrate the steps taken to address these concerns.    

   
Academy of Medicine
Georgia Tech proposed a new gate and fence around the West Peachtree frontage of property in order to provide added security and to prohibit dog walking and general trespassing when events are being conducted on site. The committee expressed concerns due to the fact that fences are specifically prohibited for non-residential uses by the SPI-16 zoning regulations. However, recognizing the practical need for a barrier to  keep pets off the lawn, the committee encouraged the applicant to use landscape features such as a continuous low hedge, densely planted with mature shrubs, and a gate to enclose the formal gardens in front of the building. This would limit access to the lawn and also provide an attractive and natural aesthetic enhancement around the perimeter of the site.


190 Eleventh Street
This renovation project consists of exterior upgrades to the existing triplex located on the NW corner of Eleventh Street and Dickson Place. The committee was supportive of these improvements since they increase the viability of the units by adding natural light with new windows and address basic maintenance items such as new roofing and siding.      

 

September 2016

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The Midtown Development Review Committee (DRC) saw four proposals on Tuesday, September 13th. Two projects, 195 Thirteen Street, and SLS Atlanta Hotel Residences, were presented for a follow-up review. Both received the green light to move forward on the condition that finalized submittal packages be shared with the committee electronically. An office renovation at 1372 Peachtree and a switching station project at 1018 West Peachtree also sought feedback at the September DRC. 


1372 Peachtree St
ASD | SKY presented plans for core and shell improvements to the existing vacant office building at 1372 Peachtree Street. Most notably, the proposed scope includes demolition of the Peachtree Street façade and construction of a new full height curtain wall facade that features a new exterior stair. A new semi-enclosed courtyard and landscape area will also be created along the Peachtree frontage. The committee complimented plans for increased transparency on the Peachtree façade and for taking the opportunity to create nice public space. The DRC suggested that the applicant fine tune designs of the exterior fire stair and the outdoor seating area. The applicant will share these details as well as adjustments to the courtyard at a follow-up presentation.


195 13th Street
This was the second presentation of a proposed 27-story multifamily project on 13th Street by Lennar Multifamily Communities. The proposal includes 307 rental units with lobby, lounge, leasing and mailroom space on the ground floor. Per the committee's request, the applicant shared proposed material selections and more detailed elevations of the 13th Street facade. The committee asked that designs be further developed for the 7-level above-grade parking deck, adding more detail and dimension to the facade. Prior to formal approval by the DRC, the applicant has been asked to submit these changes as well as a landscaping plan in a final comprehensive package.


SLS Atlanta Hotel Residences
Trillist returned for a follow-up presentation of a new luxury hotel project under the SLS flag.  Located at the intersection of Crescent Avenue and 13th Street, the proposed 43-story tower would contain 214 hotel rooms, 66 condo units, and 12 levels of podium parking. At the first presentation in July, the DRC commended the development team for the collaborative approach in working with adjacent property owners to create a central service area that would reduce the need for curb cuts. The committee also suggested the need to simplify the creative programming planned along the pedestrian realm. Since July, the applicant has eliminated extraneous elements at the ground level and created a cleaner architectural expression and an engaging pedestrian experience. The committee and applicant agreed on other minor adjustments to the façade design and the committee will recommend formal support for this project on the condition that the applicant follow up with revised elevations.


Comcast
A new switching station is proposed in the middle of the site owned by Comcast. The intent is to construct in two phases a single-story, concrete masonry enclosure, flat-roof building consisting of approximately 6,500 SF to house an electronic signal processing system. The plan will include six emergency generators and ten separate HVAC package units. The committee stated appreciation for the applicant's efforts to make the new building and ancillary devices as subdued as possible and will continue to work with the applicant towards this effort. While the applicant has ensured the committee that the utility uses will be completely screened from West Peachtree, the DRC has requested that the applicant show design plans with similar attention to Spring Street.


October 2016

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Three smaller-scale projects are underway that will add more vibrancy to Midtown's street-level experience. Proposals for a re-envisioned office building, a new tapas restaurant, and a public plaza on Juniper Street were presented at the Development Review Committee (DRC) meeting on Tuesday, October 11th.


1372 Peachtree Street
ASD | SKY returned to the DRC to provide updates on the proposed core and shell improvements to the existing office building. The proposed scope includes demolition of the Peachtree Street façade, construction of a new full height curtain wall façade with a new exterior egress stair, and a new semi-enclosed courtyard and landscape area along the Peachtree frontage. Based on refinements made since the September meeting and in light of additional information provided about material choices and construction details, the DRC recommended full support for this project.


Bulla Gastrobar
A new traditional style tapas restaurant is proposed on the NW corner of Eleventh Street and Crescent Avenue in the recently completed Sixty11th mixed-use tower. The scope of work includes removing two existing storefront sections and replacing with an operable storefront system to open up the interior to the outdoor patio. A new entry canopy over the main doors will be installed along with four new awnings with decorative lighting, two mosaic tile signs, and Bulla branded tile inlays at the columns and entry. The committee was very positive about the overall design and noted the inviting outdoor dining area which will bring the unique concept out to the sidewalk. The DRC encouraged the applicant to consider another layer of street-level signage targeted to pedestrians to help identify the brand and provide additional wayfinding. Additionally it was suggested that landscape elements such as planters at the base of the patio railing could help soften the edges of the outdoor dining area and create a natural buffer between the sidewalk and the restaurant patrons. Apart from those suggestions, the DRC recommended full support for this project.  


Juniper Plaza
Metrotainment Cafes presented an updated proposal for 1069 and 1057 Juniper Street. The plan includes demolition of the existing vacant structures and site redevelopment that adds a public amenity and additional valet parking space for Einstein's and Joe's on Juniper. A future phase of the project would expand Joe's on Juniper into 1053 Juniper and connect the currently vacant structure with the restaurant. The design for this project continues to evolve into a unique urban plaza that could become a signature gathering space for the community. The focus of the feedback offered by the committee at this meeting was on operational needs associated with the valet service. Specifically, the DRC recommended adding sidewalks on either side of the drive aisles to provide a safe and comfortable area for guests to stand while they wait for their cars. The applicant was encouraged to share the site plan with the Office of Public Works to verify that ingress and egress meets the requirements of the city's transportation planners. Any subsequent feedback from the DRC is anticipated in the form of an electronic review.


December 2016

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The Midtown Development Review Committee (DRC) finished out the year by reviewing two new proposals for projects on West Peachtree Street yesterday:


The first, 1105 West Peachtree, is the comprehensive redevelopment of a full-block site bound by West Peachtree, 13th Street, Peachtree Walk and 12th Street. Selig Enterprises proposes a dramatic mixed-use concept that would include a 32-story office tower on West Peachtree Street, a 56-key hotel located on 13th Street, 81 residential condos located on Peachtree Walk, and approximately 16,900 SF of street-level retail along 12th Street. Overall, the project was well-received, particularly with regard to the striking architecture of the tower. The committee commended the applicant for embracing opportunities for artistic enhancements to the pedestrian environment along Peachtree Walk, a deliberate approach that is consistent with the Midtown Alliance’s vision for the Midtown Art Walk concept. The committee challenged the applicant to explore alternatives for consolidating loading and service functions along 13th Street to improve the sidewalk conditions and pedestrian safety. The committee also identified the need for more effective screening of the parking structure as seen from 13th Street.       


The second, 1438 West Peachtree Street, is a complete renovation of an existing 42,430 SF multi-tenant office building and an accessory parking deck accessed from Spring Street. Proposed improvements include replacing windows, painting the exterior, removing the existing classical porch columns, roof and winding steps from the second floor balcony and replacing them with a new balcony structure and roof. New landscaping and building signage will be added to the supplemental zone on West Peachtree and new signage and screening will be added to the parking deck on Spring Street. The project is a timely update to a dated commercial property and the committee was fully supportive of the project.