|Typical look of a QuikTrip Gen 3 location|
Gas station and convenience store closer to reality.
Tulsa, Oklahoma-based QuikTrip could soon break ground for its controversial new location on Howell Mill Road.
I first wrote about the proposed 6,000 square foot QT, one that would replace a number of vacant lots as well as a former Just Brakes location, in early 2013. (City records indicate that the project has actually been in the planning stages since 2012.) In the years since, neighborhood residents, City of Atlanta representatives, and QuikTrip officials have gone back and forth in order to reach a satisfactory compromise among the parties. (It seemed that a number of residents would only be happy if the business was prevented from opening altogether.)
According to Mike Thornbrugh, manager of public/government affairs for QuikTrip, the store is one step closer to reality following a recent victory at a community meeting.
The Board of Zoning Adjustment heard the appeal of administrative variances granted in the Special Administrative Permit (SAP) for QuikTrip’s proposed development on Howell Mill between Defoor and Chattahoochee Avenues. In the hearing, which was held April 7th, the zoning board voted unanimously to deny the appeal and move forward with the development.
Thornbrugh indicated it was still too early to provide any timeline for opening, but that "QuikTrip looks forward to serving the community soon." Given the project has been in the works since 2012, it must now fit into QuikTrip's current store opening pipeline. Industry and community sources indicate it's likely that the gas station and convenience store may not break ground until late this fall, at the earliest, and may not open until late next year.
|The site of the proposed QT, looking down Howell Mill with Defoor Avenue on the right|
QuikTrip officials have repeatedly made changes to their plan in an effort to appease area residents. The City of Atlanta planning staff reviewed an earlier proposal and asked QT to make three significant changes: "remove a curb cut on Chattahoochee, remove two fueling pumps, and add “windows” to the “rear façade” (which is what we would consider to be the front, the façade along Howell Mill)."
QuikTrip reportedly made all three changes. The center will now have eight fuel pumps (actually, sixteen pumps in total, as they are double-sided) down from an originally planned 12 (or 24 total.)
Additionally, per the staff's request, the proposed QT will have no vehicular access from Howell Mill and will instead have single curb cuts off both Chattahoochee and Defoor Avenues.
The convenience store portion of the business will be situated such that it sits closest to Howell Mill Road, with the pumps behind it. The "windows," likely faux, will break up the building a bit so give it some "character."
When the QT was first proposed in late 2012, the subject parcels were zoned "I1 (light industrial)/C1 (light commercial) within the BeltLine overlay, suitable for use as a fuel center and convenience store. Last year, a number of parcels along Howell Mill Road were re-zoned as MRC 1/2 (Mixed Use Residential/Commercial.) This rezoning affected eighty or so parcels with Howell Mill frontage from I-75 towards the QT site until about the Atlanta waterworks. This move was seen by some as a way to slow or even end QT's plans, and while there were new hurdles to overcome, the company did make necessary changes to its plans to continue the process.
Three area residents, James "Jim" Martin, Jacob Burton and Wyatt Gordon, all homeowners in nearby Underwood Hills and Berkeley Park, were the ones largely responsible for the appeal. Martin, chair of the NPU-D and Atlanta Planning Advisory Board, Burton and Gordon all felt "aggrieved" by the approval of SAP (Special Administrative Permit) BL-15-04 and outlined the reasons for their appeal.
The trio can take their fight to Fulton County Superior Court, although I was unable to confirm whether they will elect to do so. Although under different circumstances, QuikTrip withdrew plans to open a similar location on Moreland Avenue in Ormewood Park in 2011 after fierce neighborhood outcry.
Personally, I see the addition of the QT as a plus for the neighborhood. The business will provide a clean, well lit place to fill up as well as an ever evolving variety of food and drinks. QuikTrip is seen as a "best in class" in its industry and has got to be better than a vacant lot! If anything should have been controversial or fought over, it should have been the obscene number of apartments approved both behind Willy's and in front of Fellini's on Howell Mill near Collier Road as well as the new project near Howell Mill Road and Brady Avenue.
As far as I'm concerned, and as one who travels this stretch with great frequency, a QT is an amenity to the area. Hundreds of apartments on the other hand, create more congestion in an already crowded area.
A few miles away at the corner of Peachtree & 6th Streets, QuikTrip plans to open a first-of-its-kind convenience store sans gas in June. The location, a test for the company, will stock all the products one would find in a traditional QT convenience store, with the notable absence of fuel.
Do you own property near the planned QT, and if so, are you in favor or against its development? If not a QT, what would you like to see happen to the subject parcels? Are you, like me, sick and tired of all the new apartments up and down Howell Mill Road?
Please share your thoughts below.