Builder reshapes east Roswell project

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 10/17/06

A builder who planned to develop a retail center half the size of Phipps Plaza in east Roswell has instead decided to build a mixed-use development with condominiums, offices and retail.

That's good news for east Roswell residents who don't want another retail strip for a neighbor, and a victory for the Chairman's Advisory Group, a team of neighborhood volunteers in Roswell who are interested in development issues. It is headed by City Councilman David Tolleson.

Concordia Properties had approval from Fulton County to develop 400,000 square feet of retail, but the advisory group worked with the developer to get a project that both sides can live with.

Concordia would not back away from including the big-box store it feels is needed to make the project viable, but it did agree to replace a big chunk of proposed retail space with residential and office space.

Concordia also came up with a plan that puts small retail space along Holcomb Bridge Road, giving the project more of a village feel with the parking lot out of sight behind the storefronts, along with the big-box store.

"We'll have a much better project than the one that was vested under the county," Tolleson said. The area was annexed by Roswell in 2000, but the county zoning is grandfathered.

The project must be presented to the City Council for approval under Roswell's new mixed-use zoning ordinance.

The site contains 38 acres on both sides of Champions Green Parkway, a roadway into the Champions Green apartment complex that is set back from Holcomb Bridge Road.

Concordia plans to create a Main Street along Champions Green Parkway, with offices above retail on both sides of the street.

The residential portion of the development will be clustered on the west side of the property, away from the big-box store and larger retail portion on the northeastern edge.

"The big-box store will be between 150,000 and 180,000 square feet," said Rich Dippolito, a partner in Concordia Properties. His company is negotiating with a potential tenant that he would not identify.

"The residential portion of the project will be all condominiums or condominiums over offices. There will be no condos over retail," Dippolito said.

"The condos will be one-story flats, probably in clusters of four-story buildings. There will be between 70 and 120 condo units, depending on the sizes," Dippolito said.

The proposal Concordia brought to the advisory group "was probably 95 percent of the way there," Tolleson said.

"Most of the work still to be done involves reconfiguring some of the buildings and the open space to create an environment that is pedestrian friendly and has a sense of place," Dippolito said.

He said the advisory group was helpful, even when its members asked tough questions.

"The most important thing about this process is that the city has gone to the effort to bring the developer and the neighborhoods together and, rather than being in an adversarial relationship, this has become a team effort," Dippolito said. "I think it's very effective."