New retail center proposed in Toco Hill
Barnhart Commercial Development, LLC is proposing to build a new 4,120 square foot, two tenant retail center in place of a vacant building on North Druid Hills Road, near Azalea Circle, in Toco Hill. The center would replace the former Toco Hill Picture Framing which relocated down North Druid Hills Road near Grand Slam Baseball & Golf this past March. According to signage posted to the business at the time of closure, the business has occupied the Toco Hill site for nearly 40 years.
DeKalb county property records indicate that the building, which reportedly measures 2,664 square feet, and its property are owned by Anne B. Chihade. Chihade is also the owner of Toco Hill Picture Framing.
According to documents submitted to DeKalb county, the developer has "commitments from two high credit, national retail tenants" to lease space in the center. Although the names of the tenants remain a secret, a sketch of the proposed structure shows "Athletic Apparel" and "Mobile Wireless" businesses on the two storefronts. (It's worth noting that a former Verizon Wireless authorized retailer closed in an adjacent two unit center)
The parcel, which measures about .5 acres, reportedly only has about .34 of an acre of "useable" land. The property is irregularly shaped, thereby limiting the area on which a building could be constructed, parking and access drives. "The entire rear of the property contains a heavily wooded 50-foot buffer that covers 31% of the land area of the parcel."
Given the limitations of the property, the developer is seeking seven variances from DeKalb county to facilitate their project.
1) Reduce the Perimeter Landscape Strip from 5' to 3' along the east property line, 2' along the west property line, and 0' along the south property line.
2) Remove the tree requirements from the Perimeter Landscape Strip.
3) Remove the 10% interior landscaping requirement.
4) Remove the 3' berm or hedge requirements between the parking lot and Right of Way.
5) Remove the requirement for one tree for every eight parking spaces and for one island for every ten parking spaces.
6) Increase the Maximum Building Setback from 60' to 65'.
7) Increase the Maximum Parking Allowed from twenty-one spaces to twenty-three spaces.
The above mentioned variance requests relate to articles 2,5 and 6 of the DeKalb County Zoning Ordinance.
In addition to the variance requests, the development may also have issues getting approved amid widespread sewer issues in DeKalb county. The AJC recently highlighted a few projects planned for DeKalb county that have been held up due to the county informing the developers that the "aging sewer lines can't handle the additional load."
Among the developers sent notice of the sewer issues was Crim & Associates, who were planning to build an 11,000 square foot multi-tenant retail center on LaVista Road in front of Kroger Toco Hill. Also reportedly sent a letter was Macauley Investments, who plan to redevelop the former Kmart on Buford Highway in Doraville. "Nexus," as the mixed-use development is known, would include apartments, a hotel, offices and retail space.
If you asked me, it's about time DeKalb and other municipalities get serious about limiting development that simply can't be supported. I'm not against all development, but to think that so much development can be added to existing and antiquated sewer infrastructure is ludicrous. (Take note Kasim Reed and City of Atlanta.)
Are you in favor of the new development? If not a retail center, what should become of this small, highly visible property? Do you have an option on the sewer issues facing DeKalb county and likely other local municipalities?
Please share your thoughts below.