Friday, December 29, 2017

RaceTrac and Wendy's Headline Proposed Intown Redevelopment

A local developer is planning a three tenant redevelopment at the busy intersection of Briarcliff and Clairmont Roads in DeKalb county.  Jay Gipson of The Gipson Company has the assemblage under contract with plans to build a new RaceTrac, Wendy's and Express Oil Change & Tune-Up Clinic on the combined roughly 3.74 acre property.  
Click to enlarge 
According to DeKalb county property records, a single entity owns all nine addresses involved in the redevelopment. "JMAR Investors LP," a holding company based in Madison, Georgia, controls three Briarcliff Road and six Clairmont Road addresses.   The assemblage includes 3068, 3070 & 3080 Briarcliff Road and 2778, 2794, 2804, 2806, 2810 & 2814 Clairmont Road.  According to Gipson, the holding company has controlled some of the properties for  over 70 years.

The properties in question are largely home to a number of older and dilapidated buildings but also a Volvo repair business, Auto Clinic 360 and an existing Express Oil Change that would relocate within the project as part of the redevelopment.  The plot of a former Waffle House that was demolished at least ten years ago and was later home to a makeshift car-wash is also part of the proposed redevelopment.  The project is situated beside the retro Riviera Terrace condo development.  
Fuel pumps from the shuttered Shell were removed from the site in January 2015
The Volvo repair facility at the corner of Briarcliff & Clairmont Roads

The existing Express Oil Change and Tune-Up Clinic 
ToNeTo Atlanta has been following this project for over three years with there having previously been at least one other interested developer, with other tenants proposed.  Last year there was talk of some combination of a Zaxby's, Walgreen's, Starbucks and/or Del Taco, but those plans failed to materialize.  

Jay Gipson, his company's attorney and a representative from RaceTrac held a preliminary community meeting Thursday night to present their plans to neighbors.  Many expressed concern about anticipated additional traffic, something that Gipson indicated was unlikely, given that his development would serve more as an amenity than an attraction.  A grocery or drug store, for instance, would draw people to the property, whereas his proposed uses, for the most part, are conveniences for those already on the road and in the area.  

One valid concern voiced by residents, that the development won't affect, is the upcoming onslaught of  thousands of additional cars that will be leaving the new Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) building at I-85 and North Druid Hills Road.  The Center for Advanced Pediatrics, which is due to be completed next year, is being built in place of a former hotel and is expected to make worse an already congested NE Access Road along I-85.  

While there is little that Gipson can do about the traffic from CHOA, he does seem to have planned his project with accessibility in mind, including a road running nearly the entire rear of the project to allow for in additional access to Briarcliff Road, as well as the primary access points off of Clairmont Road.

Some residents also questioned whether the area needed yet another gas station.  QuikTrip opened on the site of the former Ed's IGA grocery store in 2013 and a Chevron operates across the street in a former Speedway / Starvin' Marvin.  Gipson and his attorney claimed that a feasibility study was done verifying that the area can support all three fuel retailers.  That said, given RaceTrac and QuikTrip's notorious price wars, it's altogether possible that if the RaceTrac is built, the Chevron will be on borrowed time.   
The proposed RaceTrac will look like this 
Gipson will make a formal presentation before the DeKalb Community Council in January and the Planning Commission after that.  While the properties, which are classified brownfield given their prior uses, are properly zoned for the proposed uses, Gipson does need Special Land Use Permits (SLUP) for the Wendy's drive-thru and RaceTrac fuel sales and beer & wine sales.   

Plans call for the new RaceTrac to look like the new Brookhaven location the company will open this morning at the corner of Dresden Drive & Clairmont Road.  RaceTrac is also moving forward with plans for a new location at Buford Highway & Chamblee Tucker Road in Chamblee.  

The Wendy's will be an "image activated-smart desgn" location and will feature the company's latest modern design elements.  The new Wendy's will look very similar to the recently rebuilt Wendy's on Spring Road and Cobb Parkway in Smyrna. As ToNeTo Atlanta reported previously, Wendy's also plans to "scrape and rebuild" their existing restaurant in an outparcel of Toco Hills shopping center on North Druid Hills Road next year.
The proposed Wendy's is expected to look like this 
If all goes well, Gipson tells ToNeTo Atlanta that site prep could start as soon as March, with plans to turn over the property to the tenants about three or four months later.  

If that timeline holds true, the RaceTrac, which would feature a 5,400 square foot convenience store and 20 pump fuel center, would likely open spring 2019.  The 3,000 square foot franchised Wendy's restaurant could likely open in late 2018 and the approximately 4,000 square foot Express Oil potentially following a similar timeline. 

Across from the proposed development, Williamsburg Village shopping center, originally anchored by an A&P grocery store, sits largely vacant and a vehicular obstacle course after years of parking lot neglect.  Gipson indicated that he is "in talks" with the LeCraw family, who currently own the center, about possibly redeveloping it in the future.  

Gipson, who lives in Brookhaven, previously redeveloped a former real estate office into a Walgreens and Piedmont Hospital medical facility on Peachtree Road in Brookhaven.  As ToNeTo Atlanta reported earlier this year, Gipson also plans to develop the adjacent parcel of land in Brookhaven previously home to  The Solomon Goodwin House.  Gipson tells ToNeTo Atlanta that while original plans were for a combination restaurant/medical complex, the development will now be all medical.

All in all, the proposed Briarcliff & Clairmont Road redevelopment may not be the outcome that everyone can agree on, but given the alternative, it seems like a pretty solid option.  

What would you like to see happen to this property?  Do you think the proposed tenants make sense for the area?  Are you afraid of the expected traffic that the CHOA expansion will bring?

Please share your thoughts below.  


Anonymous said...

Pains me to hear Del Taco was going to be there but now isn't. Kept hoping the chain would open more restaurants. Seems somewhere along the way it was decided it wasn't working in Georgia since their planned 30+ stores stopped at around 6 or so.

Anonymous said...

I think the RaceTrac is a good addition. I wish the food option was better than Wendy's. I like the look of their new buildings but unless they improve their food their building doesn't matter.

Craig "Speedy" Ehlo said...

Will we ever get a Racetrac or QT in Sandy Springs near Roswell Road and 285? Maybe at the bottom of the hill between the Prado and 285?

Anonymous said...

People will always complain. Yes, it's "another" gas station, but that seems better than the dilapidated buildings. And I totally agree that those businesses are not going to increase traffic. No one is going to drive 5 miles out of their way to go to any of those places. I think that's just the canned response to anyone who doesn't want something built - "it'll increase traffic". Too late, this is Atlanta!

Anonymous said...

Those buildings are blight and redevelopment is welcome. I don't care for the Wendy's or lube place. It's a shame the RaceTrac will not be catty-corner to the QT.

Anonymous said...

They need to demolish those godawful apartments and everything on the corner where the post office is. That whole corner is an eyesore and draws crime.

Anonymous said...

Only real issue is people trying to turn left to go north on Clairmont. That's going to be a dangerous nightmare. If they can prevent that should be ok.

TrekBear said...

NO!!!! Not another damned RaceTrac directly across the street from an existing QuikTrip!!!! Yes, that intersection could use some thoughtful redevelopment, but ANOTHER GAS STATION IS NOT THE ANSWER!!!

Jimk said...

I’d be happy if the entire tract was turned over to the Volvo repair business. All the proposed uses will make traffic that is already intolerable become impossible. At least the Volvo repair only has a slow trickle of cars coming in and out. Who cares what it looks like? And what inner sadness in your life makes you willing to put up with the additional traffic madness for the sake of a Baconater and Sodapalooza?

ImAndy said...

I just came here to see when the first comment would be posted about how the fuel pumps should be in the back of the building so the building could be close to the street and convenient to people walking to I-85

And regarding traffic the applicant is absolutely right. If people need gas they are already getting off the interstate to go to Quick Trip, this will create very little if any new traffic

What color are these people that live in the "godawful apartments"? Asking for a friend..

AmyP said...

Those apartments appear neat and clean and there are a ton of children living there. The empty spaces in the shopping center, the lack of maintenance in the parking lot, and the continued late night "club" activity is the "godawful" part of it.

Anonymous said...

Excellent reporting! Thank you for the detailed article.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if we had a city, then there could be some smart planning! Instead of complaining start supporting Vista Grove

Anonymous said...

I'll be interested to see how long this project gets delayed, given that it is right in the heart of the most anti-development community in Atlanta. That community never wants anything to be redeveloped - they like old, run-down dilapidated buildings and oppose all change with their "traffic" and "increased costs" arguments.

Why do you think this community is the one in decades (ever?) to vote down cityhood?

Anonymous said...

I strongly supported and voted for cityhood the first time, but certain neighborhoods stopped that movement and it failed. NOW they finally see the wisdom and necessity for cityhood, but it's too late. This Vista Grove effort won't get off the ground. Welcome to life in an unincorporated area at the whim of developers and the unresponsive county government. The CHOA development is going to be a nightmare for Clairmont and I-85.

Anonymous said...

When did Briarcliff at Clairmont become "InTown"

Anonymous said...

It is intown. Cumming is the new OTP where you been?

Anonymous said...

It's a disappointing mix of businesses and under DeKalb County's hot mess of a planning department the property will probably be cleared quickly and sit empty for untold months before construction is allowed to begin... just like the townhomes-to-be on Briarcliff.

Alex Kirk said...

I don't know, Brookhaven hasn't been very smart with its development since becoming a city. Maybe it'd work elsewhere...but the precedent isn't so great so far.

Anonymous said...

Very good article. But, would it be possible to include whether a development is on the NE, NW, SE or SW corner of an intersection? It is sometime difficult to tell from the photos of the ground plan illustrations.

Anne T. said...

This is a HORRIBLE addition to my community. We DO NOT need another gas station. racetrack can take their war with QT somewhere else. And a Wendy’s? Ugh. Why can’t something upscale go here! Otherwise, leave Vol Repairs etc alone.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine it will any different than trying to get out of the Quick Trip on N. Druid and Briarcliff. You can't turn left on to Briarcliff now, so I'm guessing we won't be able to turn left on to Clairmont from this RaceTrac.

Now if they will do something about that eye sore of a shopping center next to the Quik Trip at Clairmont/Briarcliff.

Anonymous said...

Better the. The new balance and nail salon we are getting at clairmont and north Druid.

Anonymous said...

Just what the area needs -- fatty fast food and more gas fumes. Lazy developers. With the big CHOA development coming you'd think somebody could get creative with this parcel and make the neighborhoods happy while making money. Then again, working with DeKalb County is a deterrent to anyone good.

Anonymous said...

All you have to do is read the comments to see exactly what I'm talking about with this anti-development area....

Anon from December 29, 2017 at 6:54 PM:
Yeah, the brand new state of the art CHOA facility is going to be such a nightmare. Too bad you couldn't keep the delipidated hotel that had been closed and abandoned for decades. right?

And good luck redeveloping old Briarcliff High into anything whatsoever. That community would rather have a graffiti covered dump with vagrants sleeping inside.....

No city, no new business, no improvement to old crappy buildings. That community wants none of it! All they want it to do is complain about traffic and taxes. That QT is the best thing to happen to the area in years. But that community probably favored that disgusting grocery store.

jetairbear said...

What happens to Express Oil and Tune and the Volvo Repair place once the construction begins..It says they will be a part of the new concept and return, but how can they afford to be closed down for the period of time that it will take to rebuild??? Quite selfishly I trust that team at Express Oil and have been taking my car there for years....would hate to lose them, even if it is temp...also I tend to agree with some of the posts.... another MEGA GAS STATION across the street from the existing QT?? not sure that's the highest and best use....but we'll see.

Unknown said...

It's a nice redevelopment compared to what we have today. The gas station will serve well to people getting off of I-85 that make the right onto Briarcliff. It will be much easier than getting into and out of the Quick Trip during busy hours. The Wendy's will give another food option to the neighborhoods that are north of Clairmont that is currently lacking.

With regards to the cityhood arguments - the vote likely would have passed if not for the unethical sponsoring and shady vendor dinners that turned a lot of people off - so I don't want to hear anymore arguments about "this wouldn't have happened if we had a city".

ImAndy said...

Vista Grove isn't even proposing a police department garbage truck or a dog catcher. Yet, people think things like this wouldn't happen if it was a city? People..give up on that wet dream that there will be an ice cream store and dog boutique on every corner.

Unknown said...

Also -

Please stop with these dumb variations of the same thing as names:

Vista Grove
Briar Vista
Oak Vista
Vista Side
Toco Lake Hills

I vote against the city proposals just because I don't want to live in city that has such a dumb name and will refuse to ever change my mailing address or license from Atlanta to any of the above.

Look around. How many actual real Vistas and Groves do we have in our neighborhood and the majority of people within the boundaries don't live on or beside a lake.

Name is something useful or relevant such as North Atlanta, stop doing shady things such as changing boundaries last minute and having irrelevant politicians sponsor it and stop being ignorant to the types of things that still happen between developers and city planners even after a new city is born. Racetrac would be coming to that corner whether it's unincorporated Dekalb or LakeBriarVistaSide. Mark my words.

Lastly, nothing uinpscale will ever come to this corner as long as the demographics are picking up the low income apartments and senior living immediately within a 1-2 mile radius. Corporations that do these real estate expansion planing rely heavily on these such reports (I used to do this for a living). If you want something better you have to move out of the Gray Hair demographic that dominates the immediate demographics. Trust me, I've run these reports before for this very corner. Once people understand how it works, it's much easier to have a rational opinion.

Anonymous said...

Too bad we can’t have some establishments the neighbors actually need and would use. I have no use for yet another gas station and Wendy’s food sucks. How about a First Watch or Another Broken Egg?