Bank planned for former restaurant parcel
Atlanta-based SunTrust Bank has submitted an application for a SLUP (Special Land Use Permit) to allow them to construct a new branch in Dunwoody. The 3,700 square foot freestanding building would be constructed in place of the former Old Hickory House restaurant. Old Hickory House closed its Dunwoody location on Chamblee Dunwoody Road near Dunwoody Village in late August 2014. The popular barbecue restaurant had served the Dunwoody community for decades.
At the time of the closure one local resident took it upon himself to let everyone know what they did not want to have open in place of the restaurant. "Anything here but a bank" read a sign planted in the yard beside the restaurant's street sign.
Soon after the closure, Texas-based Black Walnut Cafe announced it had secured the site and would open their restaurant in place of the Old Hickory House. Attending a recent opening event at the now open Black Walnut Cafe in Alpharetta, I asked the chain's president Joe Brassard about the status of the Dunwoody location. He indicated to me that it was "shelved for now," and that the restaurant was considering a smaller format for the site as they had determined it was not large enough to house their typical concept. I subsequently confirmed that Black Walnut is in fact under contract to sell the property to SunTrust. While they are not going to be able to open where they had hoped, Brassard indicated the chain would still love to be somewhere in Dunwoody. Following the Alpharetta opening, another Black Walnut is slated to open in Peachtree Corners in February. Brassard indicated that the chain sees the opportunity for as many as five Black Walnut Cafe locations in metro Atlanta.
As for SunTrust, the new branch would serve as a replacement to their current branch at Mount Vernon Highway & Dunwoody Village Parkway. Sources indicate that the existing branch is leased by the bank whereas the new location would be bank owned. No word on what, if any, immediate replacement plans there are for the existing SunTrust, if the new branch comes to fruition.
SunTrust representatives recently presented their plans to the neighborhood at a preliminary informational meeting. ToNeTo Atlanta readers in attendance said the crowd was mixed in their support of the redevelopment. A SLUP (Special Land Use Permit) request by the bank to add parking to the site has been submitted to the city and will be heard on August 9th. Following the results of the SLUP meeting, the request would move to the city council for a public meeting on September 12th followed by the private council vote on September 26th.
Are you in favor of the SunTrust opening? If not SunTrust, what would you like to see open in place of the former Old Hickory House restaurant? In an average month, how many times to you visit a physical bank branch?
Please share your thoughts below.