Friday, July 15, 2016

Developer Hoping For a "Grand Slam" in Redeveloping Driving Range

The site of the proposed redevelopment 
Nearly 80 townhomes planned for North Druid Hills Road.

Atlanta-based Oak Hall Companies, a developer of commercial, medical and residential properties, is proposing a large redevelopment on North Druid Hills Road.  The company wants to build 78 townhomes in place of the Grand Slam Golf & Baseball (aka Hidden Valley Driving Range) facility at 3352 North Druid Hills Road. The development would be called "Provence Park."  To begin this process, OHC is requesting that DeKalb county rezone the parcel from C-2 & M (Industrial) to RSM (Small Lot Residential). 

This is not the first time the 11.5 acre parcel has been targeted for redevelopment.

As recently as 2014, John Weiland Homes planned to redevelop 59-70 townhomes on the property, but eventually abandoned its plans. Ashton Woods, another residential developer, sought to build 43 townhouses and 104 condo units in 2004, but also abandoned their plans. In both cases, the developers were put off by the cost of removing 12,000 cubic yards of dirt and slag, and then putting it all back (minus the slag).  The slag, or "stony waste matter separated from metals during the smelting or refining of ore" was dumped there by the E.V. Camp Steel Works, a steel foundry that operated close to the nearby railroad tracks until the 1950s.
The "Grand Slam" property consists of two parcels, one 8.8, the other 2.7 acres.
There are homeowner concerns over the construction's impact on stream and water quality, and runoff and flooding along the creek that has already been a problem for many years. Several homeowners living along the lower section of Burnt Creek Road have had to deal with wet yards and the occasional wet basement. Many feel any increase in runoff will result in even more severe  flooding problems.

Representatives from OHC recently presented their plans to neighbors. Possibly the most significant revelation was that the price of the property, jointly owned by Robert C. Bowden Family Trust and North Druid Hills Properties Limited, has been reduced to a point where OHC is confident they can absorb the remediation expense. 

Additionally, although none of the homes would be built in the floodplain, all purchasers would be required to purchase flood insurance. The 78 townhomes  will be offered for sale in the "high $300,000s."
The siteplan indicates 82 units but only 78 are actually planned 
OHC was unclear on whether a hydrology study has been completed or would be performed. There seemed to be little indication that if the study were to be or had been performed, that the information would be shared with the community.  

The closing of the sale/purchase transaction is contingent on DeKalb county commissioners approving the rezoning request.  

What are your thoughts on this proposed redevelopment?  Do you think the area can handle or needs nearly 80 new townhomes?  Do you prefer classic driving ranges like Hidden Valley or newer ones like Topgolf?

Please share your thoughts below.  

9 comments:

Ham said...

Are the units needed – maybe? I saw something I believe in the AJC identifying just how expensive homes in the City of Decatur had become, so maybe this can offer an alternative for a few folks. As for traffic I’m not really sure that this number of homes will have that much real impact. Now, I do think careful consideration needs to be given to the environmental issues and a comprehensive plan developed to handle storm water and residual pollution. Bottom line this spot is not going to remain undeveloped and it seems this option would be preferable to other potential uses.

SB said...

So I guess I need to get around to using my prepaid 6 buckets of golf balls that I bought in late 2007 which I only used 2 of. Just found it in my car.

Unknown said...

I guess removing recreation space for a residential development is always best for any community. Grand Slam doesn't appear to have the capital to improve it's facilities - however I still use the batting cage to blow off steam. Will just be one more loss for the community.

Jimk said...

Love that driving range and sorry to here that its days are numbered. Can't make them stay in business, though.

That being said, there are a number of problems with the proposed development. The requirement for flood insurance is interesting because it means the developers know it WILL DEFINITELY flood. Not to mention the project will increase stormwater runoff into the creek, in turn increasing flooding problems downstream.

Traffic on North Druid Hills in that area already sucks due to obstructed sight lines, excessive traffic speed, poorly planned entry into the nearby apartment complexes and overloads to the artery by commuters. If the prospective residents of this "Provence Park" could figure out a way to build their lives around right turns, they'll be OK. God help them, however, if they need to turn left in the morning to go somewhere like Avondale Estates or Stone Mountain. A traffic light could be installed to get people in and out of this townhome complex, but it will worsen traffic for those trying to get back and forth on North Druid Hills.

Look for this project to start out, as most do, as a lovely "pie-in-the-sky" 78-unit townhome development with plenty of "greenspace" which will then devolve into as many efficiency apartments as can be crammed into the site after the developer pleads for and obtains a variance from the originally approved plan because he overestimated the market demand for swamp condominiums (with granite countertops).

Anonymous said...

Speaking of golf ranges, it kind of makes me wonder why Jim Hearn's Driving Range on Buford Highway near PDK has not been snapped up yet. Been a for sale sign out front the last couple of years...

The Anti-Gnostic said...

@Jimk-

Pshhh! We don't need no lousy, stinkin' foresight or planning! Build, baby, build!

Anonymous said...

Would be tragic to lose that driving range. Always busy when I would go although they do need to put a little bit of money into the facilities.

Like the poster said above, this is a bad bad bad location for residential due to the point on the road and exit/entrance.

Coolio said...

80 more people on this road isn't gonna make or break traffic.

@Jimk: If you don't want the project to devolve into something else, hold your elected officials accountable. I know they get bought and sold like stocks, so either turn up the heat on them so much that they hate their jobs (or they do what you want them to do, whichever comes first) or buy one.

When I grow up, I wanna do both!

Anonymous said...


Just like the car dealership near N. DeKalb Mall, this area is very low-lying near the creek. Homeowners will need flood insurance because covering that floodplain with concrete and construction will be disastrous - even more so for the single-family homeowners in the adjacent neighborhoods and downstream.
If the owners have reduced the price significantly, maybe now the county can afford to purchase and preserve it, and continue to rent it for a driving range!
This land should be declared undevelopable and converted to greenspace - maybe DeKalb county greenspace dollars or PATH/Beltline funds could be spent to make this happen, similar to the Little Creek stables and Briarlake Forest. The overdevelopment in this corridor has taken its toll.
Just look at the Sam's parking lot after a serious rain, or the homes behind Century Center to see what happens when we allow too much on the floodplains.
At one point, when Sembler wanted to buy and demolish Briarcliff, Kittredge and Adams Stadium, this site was considered for the replacement stadium = and quickly dismissed fortunately.
I hope this plan does not go through. If it does, the county planners should require that all road/parking areas be permeable - and blacktop, with all the runoff chemicals, should not be allowed under any circumstances. It's amazing that less than a decade after the fallout from the last building bubble, the developers are again rushing in with too many projects at once and total disregard of "smart development" practices.