Alpharetta puts request for Roswell Street building on hold

City officials await management plan for downtown parking

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Alpharetta city leaders Monday tabled a variance request for a proposed four-story, mixed-use building on Roswell Street.

The developer for the project, Park Plaza Partners, was seeking a variance for the number of available parking spaces required for the project and a variance on height restrictions.

But the City Council balked at a request by the developer who sought assurances from the city that, for a fee of $1 million, patrons of the building would have access to nearby parking.

City Council members said they have no appetite for selling lot spaces, and they have yet to determine how much a business should pay for parking spaces it does not provide on its own property.

City code requires businesses to provide adequate parking based on their size. Those found deficient are charged a fee for each deficient space. That money is set aside by the city, ostensibly to help fund future parking development like the purchase of lots or construction of decks.

However, city officials are in the middle of a months-long process to determine just how much to charge businesses for each space it falls short of on its property. The fee has ranged from $4,500 back in 2005 and has been adjusted upward more recently.

But even more recently, the city has been updating parking costs with construction of a new four-level deck on Milton Avenue. Those costs, they say, should push the figure per space higher.

Councilman Jason Binder said he liked the idea behind Park Plaza’s mixed-use building, saying it would change the dynamic of Roswell Street. But, he added, the city is not yet ready to negotiate parking fees, probably until the early part of next year. At that time, he said, the city should have devised and approved a management plan for downtown parking.

Other council members said they liked the architecture of the building but were not satisfied with the height, saying they would prefer a structure three stories tall in that location.

“I think this is a great project,” said Councilman Mike Kennedy, just before voting to table the request. “I think you can get there.”

In another matter Monday, the City Council granted a rezoning request by the Providence Group to allow construction of 19 single-family, detached homes as the second part of a development currently underway just north of City Center.

Phase II of the East of Main development will include a new array of homes on 3.44 acres along Cumming Street, west of Cricket Lane with a density of about 5.8 units per acre.

That density falls within the spectrum of similar developments already approved in the Downtown District, according to Alpharetta Community Development Director Kathi Cook.

Residential subdivisions in the vicinity of the project have densities ranging from 8 units per acre at East of Main (Phase 1), 2.9 units per acre at Lehigh Homes/Cumming St, 4 units per acre at Academy Park and 4.95 units per acre at Taylor Morrison/Cumming St.

The city’s approval included a variance allowing an increase in building height from 35 feet to 40 feet. It also included a variance to reduce stream buffers from 150 feet to 75 feet along a creek that bisects the property.

Cook said reduction in stream buffers is not something the city would normally support, but the developer’s proposal would actually eliminate the need to pipe the stream and preserve more natural green space and trees with the buffer reduction.

City Council members were assured that the new homes would be constructed predominantly of brick and stone, offsetting the architecture of the nearby Phase I homes, which are primarily constructed with siding facades.

Also Monday, council members agreed to accept a donation of an educational farm from Whole Foods. The farm features an outdoor classroom, greenhouse, raised beds and a lot of fertile soil. The farm will occupy about 1.5 acres of a new 10-acre park on Old Rucker Road. Whole Foods is paying the cost of transport from its current site of their old store on Upper Hembree Road.


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