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January 2017

The Midtown Development Review Committee (DRC) kicked off 2017 by reviewing three projects at the January meeting, each potentially transformative for Midtown.
Colony Square Renovation
North American Properties unveiled its proposed renovations to the existing mixed-use development at 1197 Peachtree Street, which will be executed in multiple phases. Major components of the project include installation of new two-story store fronts at the existing 100 and 400 office towers, removal of the existing mall roof and reconstruction of the retail experience, and a proposed new building at the northern portion of the site as the last phase.
Ultimately, this project has the opportunity to substantially enhance the pedestrian experience and energize storefront retail along Midtown's signature street. The reconfigured site plan proposes the removal of the Peachtree drop-off lane, enhanced pedestrian access into the interior retail area, on-street parking, and vehicular access improvements at the existing driveways. The committee recommended approval for the first phase of redevelopment and requested updates on future phases as the project moves forward. 
1105 West Peachtree Street
Selig Enterprises made a follow-up presentation of their 1105 West Peachtree project after first presenting plans for the full-block mixed-use concept in December 2016.  Since last month’s review, the applicant has identified solutions to more effectively screen the parking structure and to simplify and clarify the overall building design. At the request of the committee, the applicant explored alternatives for consolidating loading and service functions along 13th Street.  In doing so, the applicant was able to create more active use space, improve sidewalk conditions and pedestrian safety, and strengthen the opportunity to provide significant artistic expression at the corner of Peachtree Walk and 13th Street. With these revisions made to the initial proposal, the committee recommended support for the project.
1280 West Peachtree Street 
The final project, 1280 West Peachtree Street, proposes a complete renovation of an existing commercial structure at the corner of 16th and West Peachtree Streets, chosen as Interface’s new corporate headquarters. Exterior modifications include: removal of a 1980’s finish to expose much of the original 1960’s brick office building; a recessed first floor at the street level to provide a covered entry into the lobby and to better accommodate pedestrians and visitors arriving by transit; and a new full-height veil of glass with white forest graphic wrapping the West Peachtree and 16th Street facades. All of the building’s systems will be upgraded, including new HVAC and lighting systems that will help reduce the building’s total energy use to almost 50% of typical office buildings and a cistern for collecting, storing and treating rainwater that will eliminate the need for municipal water for restroom fixtures and irrigation. These strategies and others will help the building earn LEED and WELL Certifications for green, healthy workplaces. 
The project is a welcome enhancement to a dated commercial property.  The committee was fully supportive of the project and looks forward to the addition of this innovative building and tenant to the Midtown EcoDistrict.

April 2017

The Midtown DRC met on Tuesday, April 11th, to review a revised proposal for North Point Hospitality Group's Hampton Inn & Suites project at the southeast corner of West Peachtree and 15th Street. The project was reviewed previously by the DRC in 2015 and at that time the committee recommended support. However, as the developer has continued to refine operational aspects of the project, it was deemed necessary to rethink valet service for the 169-room hotel. The subsequent proposal presented on Tuesday relocates the hotel lobby and guest registration area to the top floor of the hotel to create additional storage space for cars on the ground floor. The new scheme also adds a second vehicular exit on 15th Street to optimize valet service within the 6-level parking garage. The Midtown DRC was not supportive of this change since it negatively impacts the street-level façade of the building on 15th Street and degrades the quality of the pedestrian environment.


July 2017

Building off the energy at Tech Square, Portman Holdings—the development team behind Coda—is now moving forward with a second major mixed-use development in the area, just one block south at 3rd, 4th and West Peachtree Streets. They unveiled the high rise project at the July Midtown Development Review Committee (DRC) meeting. Also presented at the meeting were plans for four outdoor dining patios extending the street-level retail experience at Modera Midtown by Mill Creek, a project reviewed by the DRC in 2014 that is now wrapping up construction.  
740 West Peachtree 
Portman’s newest project will encompass two independent towers built above a parking podium for 1,100 cars on approximately 1.7 acres along West Peachtree Street, between 3rd and 4th Street. The first tower is 350,000 SF of office space with 5,500 SF for two bank branches and about 1,800 SF for retail. The second tower includes another 250,000 SF of office space, with 140 rental apartments programmed on the upper floors. The ground floor of the second tower will provide around 5,000 SF of retail space, with an emphasis on food and beverage. Portman plans to develop Tower 1 and associated parking as the first phase. At the DRC meeting, they presented a master site plan, build-out development controls and elevations for Phase I. They intend to present Phase II elevations for review at a later date.
The Midtown Development Review Committee (DRC) was generally supportive of the project and pleased to see Portman’s continued investment in the district. However, two aspects of the design dominated discussion: the screening on the parking deck and the request for a variation to allow a mid-block curb cut on West Peachtree Street. The committee challenged Portman to develop a more creative and effective proposal for the parking deck façade, not only to enhance the presence of the building as seen from the street and neighboring properties, but also to mitigate the negative impacts of warehousing cars. Similarly, the DRC pushed back on the request for a third curb-cut mid-block on West Peachtree Street since it would create an unsafe condition for pedestrians, particularly during evening rush hour. The request for a third curb cut did not demonstrate a hardship, as the project has two full access curb cuts on 3rd and 4th Street, along with an alley that runs the length of the property from north to south. Portman is studying the vehicular access and the parking deck façade and will resubmit additional information to the committee at a subsequent date.        
Modera Midtown 
Mill Creek is the owner/developer of the Modera project, which is topped out and in the final stages of construction. They presented detailed plans for outdoor dining for a new restaurant tenant – Momonoki, which is located near the corner of Williams and 8th Street. The plan proposes a lattice enclosure and deep awning for the patio to help mitigate the impact of noise and traffic given the location’s proximity to the I-75/85 Connector. The enclosure would require a variation to the code since the height exceeds the regulations for patio fencing. The DRC recommended support for the proposal since it will address the unique conditions associated with being located next to a major interstate. The proposed plans will also help insulate sound generated by the restaurant and prevent noise from migrating up to the residences above it. The DRC also recommended support for outdoor dining at three other restaurant locations around the periphery of the site.

August 2017

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is reenvisioning the traditional dorm experience at their Atlanta campus in Midtown. On Tuesday, August 8th, the Midtown Development Review Committee (DRC) reviewed a proposal for a new 14-story residence hall at SCAD Atlanta.
Previously, in 2015, SCAD proposed plans for a new residence hall that would replace the existing Spring House at Spring and 18th Streets. Since then, SCAD acquired a slim, irregularly shaped parcel to the west of Spring House and south of the main academic building at 1600 Peachtree Street. Developing this parcel first will allow students to remain at Spring House until completion of the project, at which time Spring House can be demolished and that property made ready for future campus development.
The proposal presented at Tuesday’s meeting includes 592 student beds, lounge and event space, laundry services, a coffee bar, and other utility services and amenities for students. The project envisions a vibrant campus experience in the northern extent of Midtown and proposes several off-site upgrades in order to provide better connectivity to the main building. The new development will not include any new parking, but will incorporate a drop-off area for cars and a loading area for service vehicles and deliveries. All student parking will be located in the existing SCAD parking deck at 1600 Peachtree.
The Committee commended the applicant’s approach to creating a cohesive campus by making improvements to facilitate better connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists. The DRC requested more information in the form of a detailed site plan to to further evaluate variation requests related to side and rear yard setbacks and loading bays. Additionally, the applicant was asked to develop more definitive solutions related to service access and pedestrian circulation through the site. 


October 2017

The Midtown Development Review Committee (DRC) saw two new projects at the October 10th meeting. 
Colony Square 
North American Properties presented the next phases of their reimagined concept for Atlanta’s original mixed-use project at Colony Square.  The first phases are officially underway as demolition began this week on portions the existing buildings. Phases 1 and 2 were reviewed by the DRC earlier this year and will include new and expanded storefronts on the 100 and 400 buildings.  The next phase will involve removing the roof of the existing mall and reconstructing the retail experience around it.  The final phase will deliver a new 6-story office building at the northern end of the site.  Overall, the project has been well received by the committee and the community at large. Seen as the focal point for Midtown’s “Main and Main” intersection of Peachtree and 14th Street, the project will transform the retail experience along Peachtree and create a striking new backdrop for the existing Arts District Plaza at the intersection of Peachtree and 15th Street.  The committee was complimentary of the master plan and contextually sensitive building design.  There was also strong support for the expanded open space known as “The Grove” on 14th Street.  Additional information was requested by the committee to provide clarity on the intended streetscape along 14th Street and to address several concerns raised by residents of the adjacent Hanover House and Colony House buildings.  It is anticipated that this information will be conveyed electronically and in a subsequent meeting with the developer and reps from the condos.           
The Mark 
The second project is a new residential tower proposed by a joint venture between CityLife Development Partners and Landmark Development.  Located on a one acre site at the SE corner of 10th and Spring Street, The Mark will consist of a 28-story building with a mix of units ranging from 1-bedroom to 6-bedroom configurations and will be marketing primarily to students.  Taking advantage of the site’s proximity to the Midtown MARTA Station, the design reflects several key objectives of the Midtown Blueprint and the newly updated SPI-16 zoning ordinance, including a 9-level parking structure that has been effectively wrapped on three sides with residential units and a reduction in the total amount of parking spaces.  The project also includes significant amenities on two upper levels and approx. 7,500 SF of retail and restaurant space fronting on 10th and Spring Street.  The committee requested more information related to the retail layout on 10th Street and the vehicular access and loading on Peachtree Place.  They also recommended that the developer meet with residents of the adjacent condo tower, Aqua, to discuss concerns related to access and quality of life issues such as noise and site lines into the parking structure.  It is anticipated that the applicant will resubmit revised plans to address these issues at a subsequent DRC meeting.


November 2017

The Midtown Development Review Committee (DRC) saw a follow-up presentation for a student housing project proposed by CityLife Development Partners and Landmark Development. â€œThe Mark at Atlanta” was presented previously in October and the committee requested more information related to the retail layout on 10th Street and the vehicular access and loading on Peachtree Place. They also recommended that the developer meet with residents of the adjacent condo tower, Aqua, to discuss concerns related to access and quality of life issues such as noise and site lines into the parking structure.  Since then, the development team made significant strides in addressing all identified concerns apart from the main sticking point involving a proposed curb cut on 10th Street. The DRC was not supportive of a variation to allow the curb cut on 10th Street due to the negative impact it would have on traffic flow along this corridor and the potential for traffic and pedestrian conflicts given its proximity to an existing curb cut on the adjacent property.  Further, 10th Street is viewed as a preferred location for retail and restaurant space and removing the curb cut allows more opportunity to activate the street level with those types of uses.  The committee recommended an alternative location for the curb cut on Spring Street. The development team is exploring this option and other modifications and intends to proceed with an electronic review before the end of the year.