Wednesday, March 7, 2018

[UPDATE] DeKalb Planning Commission Recommends Denial of Controversial Redevelopment

The DeKalb County Planning Commission met Tuesday night and recommended denial of the proposed RaceTrac/Wendy's/Express Oil Change redevelopment at the corner of Clairmont and Briarcliff Roads, just off I-85 in DeKalb County.  


Brookhaven resident Jay Gipson of The Gipson Company has the roughly 3.85 acre parcel under contract, but needs  approval of his requested SLUPs (Special Land Use Permits) for the project to go forward. 

ToNeTo Atlanta first reported on the planned redevelopment this past December.  

The project, which consists of a total of eight parcels, would replace abandoned and neglected dilapidated buildings and an auto repair shop with the three aforementioned new businesses.  

Community members were largely in favor of something replacing the neighborhood eyesore, but were far less sure for what they would prefer the site be used.  One neighbor who attended a capacity community meeting last month noted that the parcels are replete with code violations, but that county officials indicated that they could not act on the violations since the properties are under contract.  
The proposed RaceTrac would look similar to this 


Many residents and neighborhood leaders voiced concerns about increased traffic, an unfair argument, given that the proposed tenants would primarily serve existing traffic rather than attract more of it.  It's widely accepted that an additional 14,000+ daily vehicle trips will come to the area when the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) expansion project is complete, but clearly it's far easier to criticize (fast food) restaurants, gas stations and developers than a children's hospital.

Having grown up in the area, I'm far more disappointed in the residential development that took place nearby on Briarcliff Road alongside Mo's Pizza and the more recent commercial development on LaVista Road in front of Kroger Toco Hills.  In each of these cases, dozens of old growth trees were clear cut for the new developments.  

The currently proposed Briarcliff development takes an eyesore, home to vagrants, abandoned vehicles and abandoned buildings, and seeks to replace them with state-of-the art locations of Atlanta-based RaceTrac, a modern Wendy's and a new Express Oil Change.  It's not a perfect solution, but its a good re-purpose of a underutilized neighborhood asset.  
The proposed Wendy's would look similar to this 

The case will will next be heard by the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners on March 27 

If not the proposed RaceTrac, Wendy's and Express Oil Change, what would you like to see open on this site?  Do you think that both RaceTrac and QuikTrip can thrive so close together?  Is it fair to hold new businesses responsible for the traffic created by an unrelated entity?

Please share your thoughts below.  

32 comments:

Nancy said...

Oh my goodness. Dekalb County strikes again. That area seriously needs redevelopment.

CloseOTP said...

I used to live in that area and drove by that intersection daily. There is no other real use of that land other than a gas station &/or fast food restaurant. I'm sure there are people who would say "a nice boutique" or a "farm-to-table restaurant" but let's get real, that won't work there. What do these residents want there? They don't want those old businesses, but what are their suggestions. And how realistic are they? And just because they suggest something, are they willing to foot the bill to get those businesses there?

Larry Peck said...

"I'm far more disappointed in the residential development that took place nearby on Briarcliff Road alongside Mo's Pizza and the more recent commercial development on LaVista Road in front of Kroger Toco Hills. In each of these cases, dozens of old growth trees were clear cut for the new developments"

the reality is that the owners of those properties are paying taxes on them and need to develop them to generate revenue. if we want to preserve trees on properties zoned for commercial, then we need to use public funds to buy them

Anonymous said...

Bravo for the Planning Commission! Finally, someone says "no" to these developers who only seek to make a quick buck at the expense of people who live near their projects. I hope the Board of Commissioners follows the recommendation.

Anonymous said...

morons, enjoy an empty parking lot for the next 10 years

Ham said...

The reality is this site is currently an eyesore and needs to be cleaned up. Now, a convenience store, speedy oil change and fast food might not top my list, but who else is lining up to do something.

Jimk said...

I liked the eyesores. I liked the little car repair shops/car retailer/oil change places. I even liked the dry cleaner and Volvo repair/Junkyard. They added a tiny amount of traffic to a horrendously busy stretch of road. The proposed redevelopment would be a horror show as idiots try to get in and out for a latte or whatever.
And as for the children’s hospital, lots of people in this area oppose it, but we’ve been steamrolled by the Brookhaven landgrab and the hospital political lobby. Development is working toward making our neighborhoods unlivable.

Thomas Porter said...

Compared to fast food and gas stations, that “blighted area” at least has a bit of character. Something we all will sorely miss when every corner looks the same. Those same ‘services’ are available in plenitude nearby, there will be some other use for that property. I applaud (infrequently) DeKalb County for their decision.

Anonymous said...

This is so frustrating. I live a mile from the interchange and go through it at least twice a day. None of the proposed redevelopment would generate more traffic. Nobody would be traveling to the new gas station that doesn't already go to the QT or drive through the interchange. And the same left hand turn problem off of Clairmont northbound already exists for the QT. It needs to be addressed for the existing property, not just for a redevelopment.

The argument that we don't need a third gas station is naive. Certainly, the new mega station fully anticipates driving the nasty Chevron out. Short of converting it to a cemetery (that wouldn't have much traffic), this was probably the best use for the land. No destination traffic and it improves an environmental disaster that is the Volvo repair and the other abandoned buildings. Scary when a gas station is a major improvement.

This property is dominated by what looks like an actual dump and properties that are abandoned. It backs up to a major highway at the intersection of two major local roads. Homeless, drug deals, etc. are what is there now. But I guess the NIMBY's would rather have blight. And until something happens with this, nobody is going to do anything with Williamsburg, which actually could brings some attractive businesses to the area.

Thomas Porter said...

Says ‘Anonymous’.

Thomas Porter said...

Says ‘Anonymous’.

Anonymous said...

Thomas Porter is right. There is some character to the existing buildings. Some of the existing businesses need to be kicked out, however. How about let the existing Express Lube business move to the far end by the rock cliff and build its shiny new building. Turn the current Express Lube building into a restaurant, kick out Vol-Repairs and either (A) lure in Starbucks for the corner or (B) clean up that little buiding and turn it into another restaurant Delete ALL of the curb cuts along Clairmont and have a single entrance/exit -- on Briarcliff, close to the current entrance to Riviera Terrace. Put all of the parking in the back. If Starbucks wants a drive-through, customers have to use that one entrance, go around the building and come back out the same way they came in. The Peachtree Park Greenway will likely have access just up Briarcliff. You have a great little corner close to the Greenway to lure young people to buy that townhome development that Eli hates that HASN'T EVEN BEEN BUILT YET. Lots of problems solved.

Anonymous said...

We do NOT, NOT, NOT need a express oil change! PLEASE!! Some type of business that's a little more upscale! How about a Zoe's, Five Guys Burgers or artisan pizza-type restaurant.

Anonymous said...

If you close all the curb cuts off Clairmont, that property will have zero value. Retailers want access. More, not less. And I'll assume the poster above who suggested Starbucks has no concerns with traffic has that business is one of the chief sources of bottlenecks there is. Regardless of where you put it, their drive-thru would back up onto either Briarcliff or Clairmont. Wouldn't that be great?

Anonymous said...

I think the three proposed businesses are great. That corner has looked crummy for so long - there is no charm or character there. We would be getting brand new stores - what an improvement! And I would think that would incentivize Williamsburg Plaza to redevelop.

Anonymous said...

I live nearby, for decades. Horrified how many old and low-information minds around here that fight tooth and nail to keep dying things "just the way they are" even when things are actually dying. They cry about cityhood and blight improvements and spread fake info that defy all facts and studies (parrotting falsehoods like taxes will go up with a city, or traffic will increase with a gas station) to sway other low info people. When it's these kinds of moves that will coat them more in the long run. Smh. H

Anonymous said...

"And I would think that would incentivize Williamsburg Plaza to redevelop."
That's what Ryland Homes said about the townhome project on Briarcliff they fooled the neighborhoods into supporting. Boy, was that a bill of goods! They cut down all the trees (which were not old growth, by the way. The old growth trees were cut down in the 90s for another project that got killed because of the proximity to the stream.Those trees are the volunteers that grew in their place). Meanwhile, Ryland was sold to Cal-Atlantic. Cal-Atlantic just sold to Lennar. And there's no timetable for construction of the townhomes. Those neighborhoods are stuck with a 5-acre vacant lot with pipes sticking out of the ground. Looks like a scene from the financial crisis.

Lesson: Never trust what a developer's promises. Especially when they promise something will be "byoo-tiful" or force the neighborhood eyesore to change.

Anonymous said...

I’d like to have a Trader Joe’s. There's probably about as much land there as there is for the one on P'tree, so it could fit.

Two smaller restaurants that are used to having limited parking that would work well there are
Saba and Cafe Agora
It would be great to convince their owners to open additional restaurants near here.

Anonymous said...

Gipson will never deliver on the promises he makes & it won’t look like the pretty pictures.

Anonymous said...

"Horrified how many old and low-information minds around here that fight tooth and nail to keep dying things "just the way they are" even when things are actually dying."

NOBODY is fighting to keep that intersection just the way it is.

The county does need to slow down and consider the impact of cars pulling in and out of a high-volume gas station at an intersection that already suffers from a horrendous traffic situation.

In addition, your area can do better than a Racetrac and a Wendy's. You'll look like a low class, cheap suburb.

Anonymous said...

"Horrified how many old and low-information minds around here that fight tooth and nail to keep dying things "just the way they are" even when things are actually dying."

AGEISM is as real as it gets. I pity your parents and grandparents. MEillennials are turning this country into a sh*thole! Karma

bowden21 said...

The folks who oppose this cannot propose anything that is a realistic solution. It can't be a Starbucks. The one at Lavista and NDH is much too close for it to make sense here. Any restaurant other than fast food will not work in this location. The express oil is already there so there won't be any new traffic from that. The RaceTrac and Wendy's won't generate additional traffic either. They will only utilize the existing traffic. No one will go out of their way to go to Wendy's or to get gas (unless it's Costco gas). I want to see a full analysis and explanation on why the recommendation is to deny. It it is simply due to neighborhood concern then that is just plain wrong.

RayAtL said...

Who else has experienced The traffic jam along the I 85 North Access Rd. With hundreds of cars attempting to turn right onto an already congested Clairmont?
Can you see the nightmare when one of the Einsteins behind the wheel decides to leave Wendy's and turn left and head west on Clairmont?
This area may need to be redeveloped but it needs to be seriously thought through...
There are way, way too many stupid drivers in this area....

Unknown said...

I've created a drinking game based on the comments from this site:

Take a drink anytime someone mentions one of the following:
-Trader Joes or Whole Foods
-millennials
-Referring to another person by a derogatory term
-SLUP
-Park, dog park or greenspace
-Cityhood
-Nightclubs/bars

Reading comments is like watching Groundhogs Day.

Anonymous said...

The issue is turning left on to Clairmont from any proposed business on this property. Any proposed development would need to be right turn only out of the property.

Intowner said...

Jay Gipson says he won’t go to the property anywhere near rush hour. That’s enough for me. Run away from this project as fast as you can. Don’t sleep with the first guy who asks you on a date. Seriously folks.

Anonymous said...

Alternate Headline: Ugly area will stay ugly.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the "more traffic" excuse is not true. It is also true that you don't need to sleep with the first guy that asks. I say wait the owner out. He will bring better businesses. It may still be a Racetrak as they are expanding rapidly right now.

It is also true that Williamsburg will be updated/remodeled if this corner redevelops.

However, if you actually got a nicer restaurant or coffee shop, that WILL increase traffic because they will be a destination business.

Let's just hope the Express Lube is replaced with something not so tacky. It would be great if a small area could be left green and just have two businesses...

Anonymous said...

I agree that the "more traffic" excuse is not true. It is also true that you don't need to sleep with the first guy that asks. I say wait the owner out. He will bring better businesses. It may still be a RaceTrac as they are expanding rapidly right now.

It is also true that Williamsburg will be updated/remodeled if this corner redevelops.

However, if you actually got a nicer restaurant or coffee shop, that WILL increase traffic because they will be a destination.

Let's just hope the Express Oil Change is replaced with something not so tacky. It would be great if a small area could be left green and just have two businesses...

Anonymous said...

Actually, the traffic angle is being misreported. I've attended two of the meetings. The neighbors are concerned about all of the vehicles pulling in and out of the Racetrac and Wendy's, particularly those attempting to turn left onto either Clairmont or Briarcliff. Both are heavily traveled roads and will become even more heavily traveled with the 14,000 vehicles per day the first phase of the Children's Healthcare campus will dump onto the surrounding roads. Right now, there are very few cars pulling into or out of that entire block (much of it is vacant.) It's a valid concern. Atlanta drivers are idiots. Please get the context right.

Anonymous said...

I know that counties and residence should always look out for development of their neighborhoods, but in this case, you are talking about a commercial area of a busy road that has an are that is nothing but run down dilapidated buildings and you are worried about traffic? Have you sat on that road at rush hour when the traffic creeps so slow that a bicycle could outrun you?

Think of this for a moment, new construction would allow that surrounding area to benefit from a nicer looking surrounding area, and the traffic might have those waiting cars pull off of the road to benefit from the services that the proposed businesses would offer.

I think it is a win-win for everyone involved. It should also help the property values increase a bit as well. The alternative is to have the run down and dilapidated eyesores with no forward movement for your neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

What did the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners do about this at their March 27 meeting?

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