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Midtown, Ansley Park leaders irked over potential Colony Square ‘land grab’

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Emails between North American Properties and other officials show an important disconnect, neighbors contend

a rendering of the office building
A developer wants to turn a small public walkway into private seating and dining space.
North American Properties

North American Properties’s Colony Square project could soon take over a small slice of city parkland, and some neighbors are still up in arms about how the developer is handling the situation.

NAP is trying to gain city approval for an encroachment permit that would allow the development to use an 18-foot-wide arc of land bordering the Peachtree Circle at 15th Street Triangle as an outdoor dining and patio area for the ground-floor retail component of a planned office building.

The tiny park in Midtown, a stone’s throw from the Ansley Park border, already serves the community as a public space to sit and eat or hang out. Some neighbors don’t understand why NAP needs to privatize part of the city parkland to create more seating space.

Now, a concerned neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, told Curbed Atlanta that NAP is misleading Midtown Alliance officials to garner support for the encroachment.

a blueprint of the park encroachment North American Properties

The neighbor forwarded Curbed email correspondence among NAP officials and various stakeholders that appear to illustrate a disconnect about how the possible encroachment could play out.

NAP’s vice president of development Michael Lant informed Ginny Kennedy, Midtown Alliance’s director of urban design, the Ansley Park Civic Association Zoning Committee had seen the plans for the outdoor dining and patio space. “They liked the idea of activating the area with outdoor dining, but had concerns because their interpretation is that the encroachment is a ‘taking,’” according to the emails.

Kennedy, reaching out to officials from Neighborhood Planning Unit-E and the zoning committee, said Midtown Alliance has “never supported” NAP’s plan, and that the nonprofit has “serious concerns about the privatization of public space,” per the forwarded correspondences.

The fountain at the Peachtree Circle at 15th Street Triangle would remain.
Google Maps

“This land grab will result in losing six mature oaks, and it devalues the public realm,” Kennedy added. “Midtown Alliance spends $25,000 annually to maintain this park and care for the trees for the benefit of the community. The outdoor patio concept was never presented to the [Design Review Committee], and my assumption is that the committee would not support this.”

NAP spokeswoman Liana Moran previously told Curbed the project would not entail cutting down any trees; she has not yet responded to requests for comment regarding the email correspondence.

Also contradicting Lant’s email to Kennedy, Penelope Cheroff, chair of NPU-E and a member of the Ansley Park zoning committee, said the neighborhood was “vehemently against” the encroachment plans.

So did Vickie Dorsey, chair of the zoning committee, per the emails.

“We suggested [NAP] push the street level of the building back 18 feet for an outdoor space if he wanted to ‘activate’ the space,” she said.

Officials with the Atlanta Department of City Planning did not respond to Curbed’s requests for comment.