Friday, April 22, 2016

Slower Than Expected: QuikTrip May Finally Be Coming to Westside

Typical look of a QuikTrip Gen 3 location 
Gas station and convenience store closer to reality.

Tulsa, Oklahoma-based QuikTrip could soon break ground for its controversial new location on Howell Mill Road.

I first wrote about the proposed 6,000 square foot QT, one that would replace a number of vacant lots as well as a former Just Brakes location, in early 2013. (City records indicate that the project has actually been in the planning stages since 2012.)  In the years since, neighborhood residents, City of Atlanta representatives, and QuikTrip officials have gone back and forth in order to reach a satisfactory compromise among the parties.  (It seemed that a number of residents would only be happy if the business was prevented from opening altogether.) 

According to Mike Thornbrugh, manager of public/government affairs for QuikTrip, the store is one step closer to reality following a recent victory at a community meeting.  

The Board of Zoning Adjustment heard the appeal of administrative variances granted in the Special Administrative Permit (SAP) for QuikTrip’s proposed development on Howell Mill between Defoor and Chattahoochee Avenues.  In the hearing, which was held April 7th, the zoning board voted unanimously to deny the appeal and move forward with the development.    

Thornbrugh indicated it was still too early to provide any timeline for opening, but that "QuikTrip looks forward to serving the community soon."  Given the project has been in the works since 2012, it must now fit into QuikTrip's current store opening pipeline.  Industry and community sources indicate it's likely that the gas station and convenience store may not break ground until late this fall, at the earliest, and may not open until late next year.
The site of the proposed QT, looking down Howell Mill with Defoor Avenue on the right 
QuikTrip officials have repeatedly made changes to their plan in an effort to appease area residents.  The City of Atlanta planning staff reviewed an earlier proposal and asked QT to make three significant changes: "remove a curb cut on Chattahoochee, remove two fueling pumps, and add “windows” to the “rear façade” (which is what we would consider to be the front, the façade along Howell Mill)." 

QuikTrip reportedly made all three changes.  The center will now have eight fuel pumps (actually, sixteen pumps in total, as they are double-sided) down from an originally planned 12 (or 24 total.)

Additionally, per the staff's request, the proposed QT will have no vehicular access from Howell Mill and will instead have single curb cuts off both Chattahoochee and Defoor Avenues.  

The convenience store portion of the business will be situated such that it sits closest to Howell Mill Road, with the pumps behind it.  The "windows," likely faux, will break up the building a bit so give it some "character."  

When the QT was first proposed in late 2012, the subject parcels were zoned "I1 (light industrial)/C1 (light commercial) within the BeltLine overlay,  suitable for use as a fuel center and convenience store.  Last year, a number of parcels along Howell Mill Road were re-zoned as MRC 1/2 (Mixed Use Residential/Commercial.)  This rezoning affected eighty or so parcels with Howell Mill frontage from I-75 towards the QT site until about the Atlanta waterworks.  This move was seen by some as a way to slow or even end QT's plans, and while there were new hurdles to overcome, the company did make necessary changes to its plans to continue the process.   

Three area residents, James "Jim" Martin, Jacob Burton and Wyatt Gordon, all homeowners in nearby Underwood Hills and Berkeley Park, were the ones largely responsible for the appeal. Martin, chair of the NPU-D and Atlanta Planning Advisory Board, Burton and Gordon all felt "aggrieved" by the approval of SAP (Special Administrative Permit) BL-15-04 and outlined the reasons for their appeal.  

The trio can take their fight to Fulton County Superior Court, although I was unable to confirm whether they will elect to do so.  Although under different circumstances, QuikTrip withdrew plans to open a similar location on Moreland Avenue in Ormewood Park in 2011 after fierce neighborhood outcry.  

Personally, I see the addition of the QT as a plus for the neighborhood.  The business will provide a clean, well lit place to fill up as well as an ever evolving variety of food and drinks.  QuikTrip is seen as a "best in class" in its industry and has got to be better than a vacant lot!  If anything should have been controversial or fought over, it should have been the obscene number of apartments approved both behind Willy's and in front of Fellini's on Howell Mill near Collier Road as well as the new project near Howell Mill Road and Brady Avenue.  

As far as I'm concerned, and as one who travels this stretch with great frequency, a QT is an amenity to the area. Hundreds of apartments on the other hand, create more congestion in an already crowded area.  

A few miles away at the corner of Peachtree & 6th Streets, QuikTrip plans to open a first-of-its-kind convenience store sans gas in June.  The location, a test for the company, will stock all the products one would find in a traditional QT convenience store, with the notable absence of fuel.

Do you own property near the planned QT, and if so, are you in favor or against its development? If not a QT, what would you like to see happen to the subject parcels?  Are you, like me, sick and tired of all the new apartments up and down Howell Mill Road?

Please share your thoughts below.  


Ham said...

I guess my question to the activist would be who else is lining up to bring a quality business to this property. While convenience stores might not be my first choice they are needed and QT is the best in the business right now. Maybe the neighbors wanted a mattress/hair weave/wing shop instead.

Atlantan99 said...


I share you sentiments. QT may not be a park, but it sure is better than many alternatives, chief among them, a number of abandoned, derelict and overall sad looking lots.

Thanks as always for your comments and readership.

Anonymous said...

Wow, could this article be any more condescending to those of us in the area that would rather hold out for something better than a gas station? Clearly a suburban mindset drives this blog as evidenced by opposition to density, limiting development due to traffic, and giving businesses the death knell just because they don't have a sea of parking are all themes that frequently come across in the opinions of the articles.

We do not want auto-oriented businesses in the Beltline vicinity...period. End of story. Don't care how much lipstick they put on it or how great they are as a gas station.

Katherine S said...

People are routinely mugged at the Shell station next to the food truck park while filling up. As an area resident, I will definitely use this new Quick Trip to fill up my car.

vespajet said...

It's not like QT was proposing building one of the truck stop sized locations. QT keeps up their locations, which is more than you can say about most independently owned c-stores. I would venture to guess that they may be forced into some sort of delivery curfew as well.

Anonymous said...

So ... Anon at 1:41 won't be a regular customer when this QT opens?

Coolio said...

I dunno what's up with "Anonymous" but you don't speak for "us" when you say "we" don't want this or that. I for one welcome the QT, because like others have said, it's better than a vacant lot. Or one vacant and one being used as a makeshift car wash.

Mr/Mrs Anonymous should take ALL of that vitriol and use it to complain about bridges being built up and down 75 North to accommodate more cars and trucks, instead of what really makes sense in the world... trains. Imagine MARTA with a West Midtown station somewhere, or maybe a White Provision Station and a District @ Howell Mill station. Now the density that you want can be accommodated with proper infrastructure.

Take ALL of that vitriol and use it to complain to the engineers at nearby Georgia tech, and ask them why they can't come up with simple things like synchronizing lights properly to increase traffic flow. Or more complicated things like the MARTA initiative I just mentioned.

And while we're at it, complain to the bought-and-paid-for politicians who think it's cool that the state doesn't fund the transit system for the city that is the main draw of tourists in the state. no one is coming here to visit Columbus, Macon, Augusta or any of the lesser cities. Without Atlanta, Georgia would be Alabama (and consequently, without Birmingham, Montgomery or The University of Alabama, Alabama would be Mississippi).

And if you still have some hate left, why don't you take out your checkbook and put your money where you mouth is. You want to "hold out" for something better but aren't doing anything to make things better, whereas QuikTrip IS. Why should "we" wait for something that is clearly subjective, just because YOU don't like the current idea that is on the table? Furthermore it's funny that you say "those of us in the area that would rather hold out for something better than a gas station," and you don't OWN one parcel of land in the area being discussed. It's like saying you're going to "hold out" on voting for the next president until there are better choices.

Guess what? Progress will happen with or without you. And so will this QuikTrip! *mic drop*

vespajet said...

QuikTrip isn't anything remotely similar to the typical independent c-stores, like the two Shell stations about a quarter mile and a half mile from where this QT will be built. Perhaps some of the vitriol towards the QT is the fact that it would likely put one or both Shell stations out of business and the area will be stuck with an eyesore. It makes you wonder if perhaps Kroger might look into shoehorning a gas station into the shopping center they're in or perhaps Murphy USA eyeballs the Shell station across the street from Walmart (Murphy USA has been building new stations near Walmart stores as opposed to in the same shopping center.).

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Coolio: mic drop.

Seriously, you want something else there, buy the lot and improve it. QT stores are clean, safe, with well-trained and motivated employees. I'd tell you what I really think about all the other c-store dumps we have to put up with but Eli might not let my comment thru.

Mailey E. McLaughlin, M.Ed. said...

Well said.

Steve said...

I share a property line with QT's corporate HQ here in Tulsa. When I first moved in, their property was agricultural with horses and cattle grazing. it was peaceful. About 10 years ago QT bought the property with plans to build it's HQ. Lots of back and forth with the homeowner's association and residents along the shared property line. QT was decent to deal with and made quite a few concessions to add a green space as well as plant about 250 trees along the property line. These trees have matured fairly well and provide a natural visible barrier for the most part. Their construction materials and theme are very pleasing to the eye, sort of like a college campus.

Overall, they've been great neighbors to have.

yellowbandchef said...

Clearly you do not live in our neighborhood and have any idea of what many of us on Defoor Avenue have to deal with just to get out of our driveways. Come spend a day sitting on our front porch and I think you will take back the majority of your opinions and comments.

Anonymous said...

So ... yellowbandchef why dont you put all that money you have lying around on your front porch and PUT it where your mouth is?

Jimmy said...

I live in the area and I would much rather see the QT than the crap that is on the corner now. Would I rather see something nicer than a gas station/convenience store? Sure. But I'm not putting up the money to create something nicer, so why complain about a QT that is going to be nicer than what is already there. I agree with the author: people should have complained more about the 100's of apartments going up in the area with no change to the infrastructure. :-(

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