The redevelopment of Peachtree Road in Brookhaven into something other than your typical auto-dominated landscape isn’t happening without challenges, that’s for sure. Back in 2004, the community embarked on the process of creating a Liveable Initiatives Center study that focused on the possibilities of Peachtree; the result was a tried and true vision for multi-story buildings pulled up to the street with carefully edited parking and curb cuts, known officially as the Brookhaven Peachtree Overlay District. Easy enough, right? The realities of dealing with national tenants who are used to planting their formulaic models onto whatever sites they like is proving otherwise. Lately, the issue has centered around the redevelopment of the former Hastings and Kaufmann Tire site near the intersection of Peachtree and Colonial Drive.
Hastings abandoned their home of 15 years in late 2011, and the development scheme that’s surfaced since then seems to fly in the face of the LCI plan’s Main Street-style goals. Picture your typical Chase Bank and Chick-fil-A sitting roadside behind parked cars, doing little to nothing to promote the idea that Peachtree could be used in a pedestrian sense for something other than jogging. The Brookhaven-Peachtree Community Alliance, which serves as a kind of watchdog for the LCI plan’s execution, maintains that the buildings could at least be pulled to meet the street, while the property owner (which would have ground leases with the bank and the chicken joint) has fired back that a driveway easement makes this configuration impossible.
The issue could be decided at the June 13th meeting of Dekalb County’s Board of Zoning Appeals, or it could take a litigious turn like what’s happened just across the street. There, Walgreens had its sights set on constructing a suburban model store, but after losing their appeal against the Board of Zoning Appeal’s denial, they took the matter up with Superior Court where a judge will decide the fate of a contentious curb cut. More than a few community residents seem torn on the matter. Do you stand and fight for what Brookhaven could be, or is development going to come to a standstill due to the new restrictions? It goes without saying that reversing the effects of a 50+ year old growth model won’t be an easy task.