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Virginia-Highland neighbors are fighting a Beltline-adjacent condo project

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“This is overaggressive development at its worst,” says one activist

An approximation of what could come along the Atlanta Beltline’s Eastside Trail.
An approximation of what could come.
Image via nobeltlinehighrises.org

Neighbors of the Atlanta Beltline’s Eastside Trail seem to have caught a case of the NIMBYs, but could their concerns be justified?

Architecture and interior design firm Square Feet Studio is currently sketching plans for a mid-rise condo development just east of the Beltline at 675 Drewry Street.

The project would stand roughly seven stories, five-and-a-half of which would serve as the residential component topping a two-floor, partially buried parking structure.

But a collective of Virginia-Highland neighbors have launched a push to “Stop [the] 675 Drewry Street high-rise project.”

(It’s unclear why these neighbors—who could not be reached for comment for this story—are referring to the proposed project as a high-rise.)

Google Maps

The opposing neighbors, who created “NoBeltlineHighrises.org” to foster support for their cause, are now fighting developer Capital City Real Estate’s effort to have the small parcel rezoned from a high-density residential designation to one that allows for mixed uses.

Interestingly, though, Capital City’s 37-unit condominium building would not have any commercial element.

The NoBeltlineHighrises organizers assert that developers want the property rezoned as such because it would enable them to build to the boundaries of the land, which could block sunlight from nearby trees and essentially loom over the Greenwood Lofts next door, detractors say.

nobeltlinehighrises.org
a blueprint of the proposed project Square Feet Studio

Organizer Debbie Wood, who lives less than a block from the project site, said during a city Comprehensive Development Plan hearing on March 25 that she “agrees with higher density in this area,” but that this proposal is “overaggressive development at its worst.”

Another neighbor said during that hearing that the height of the proposed condo building wouldn’t gel with the Virginia-Highland Master Plan.

Other excerpts from the masterplan that opposing neighbors have pointed to include:

Preserve neighborhoods and protect them from inappropriate commercial and multifamily encroachment.

Limit buildings to seven stories or 85 feet west of Beltline and in mixed-use areas, with the exception of City Hall East [now Ponce City Market].

Limit building heights to three to four stories or 52 feet along the avenue east of Beltline, with the exception of the existing Briarcliff Hotel.

The East Sector [east of the Beltline] of Ponce de Leon Avenue should be the least intense, most residential portion of the corridor. The existing residential character should be preserved and enhanced, while new development should not overwhelm adjacent neighborhoods.

But Scott Zimmerman, principal with Capital City, said during the hearing that the firm’s plans are in line with the Beltline’s Subarea 6 masterplan.

“We’re asking for mixed-use land use designation because this is what the Virginia-Highland Master Plan was calling for on small sites like this,” he said, adding that the proposal has received unanimous support from the Virginia-Highland Planning Committee and the Virginia-Highland Civic Association.

NPU-F, however, did not support the plan.

The view of the site from the Beltline.
Google Maps
The one-story building currently on the site houses live-work space and some retail.
Google Maps

Currently, the roughly .4-acre site houses a decades-old, single-story building with live-work space and some retail.

NoBeltlineHighrises leaders are asking allies to attend an April 11 City of Atlanta Zoning Review Board Meeting to voice their opposition.

“We will be able to appeal to the city council if this measure passes but this is our best chance to stop this project in its tracks,” reads a blog post on their site.