Thank you once again for your continued interest in this project – with your help we are moving along. This update is a summary of the third community meeting we held on Saturday, November 17th at Ormewood Church.
We received 183 responses to the initial design concepts survey. This feedback has been very helpful and we’re excited about how it has helped us improve the project’s potential as a neighborhood amenity, as a place to visit, and how it fits within the surrounding community.
This third Community Update (first and second) provides a recap of the recent survey data and presents two revised design options for further consideration. These two options are the result of the integration of feedback we have received, an additional level of site design, and feasibility analysis.
After the second community meeting on Nov. 3, we continued to gather input on the favorability of the (5) general concepts presented, asking respondents to rank each option on a scale of 1 (Not Good) to 5 (Great). As of Nov. 17, the results of the scoring are shown below. For more detailed descriptions of each option and to download high resolution files for these options, see Community Update #2.
Initial Design Concept Ratings
Least popular option with an average score of 2.10. Comments showed a consensus about the undesirability of an unsightly parking lot on the corner of Glenwood and Moreland and not the highest and best use of the site. Combined 67.07% ranked this option at the bottom two stars.
The most popular option, scoring 3.03. This option seemed to strike a preferred balance between framing the Glenwood corner with a prominent building, while keeping a moderate scale which blends in with the neighborhood. The bell curve scoring results reflect a higher level of consensus about this Option. Several comments expressed concern about having only one entrance, creating bottlenecks at Glenwood.
Lower density option with a 2.84 score, tied for third place. This option gathered a lot of votes in the middle, but comments were highly polarized about the one-way access, repeating Glenwood bottleneck concerns expressed about Option 2.
Higher density concept tied with Option 3 for third place at 2.84. The non-communicating (no access between levels) deck behind the buildings on the south side stops auto thru-access, but could also increase circle-around traffic on Portland. The 5-story building at the corner of Glenwood was somewhat polarizing, receiving strong dislikes and likes.
This highest density option (also with structured parking) had the second-best score at 2.89, but was also the most polarizing. Option 5 had the highest amount of 5-star rankings and the second most 1-star ratings, behind Option 1. The high degree of density and significant amount of structured parking were the primary factors, driving strong favorable and unfavorable reactions.
Second Round of Designs
Our next step was to identify the top two versions with which to proceed, taking into account both the average score and the level of consensus/comments within the scoring. This resulted in the second round of designs, Option A and Option B, which were presented at our third community meeting on November 17th at Ormewood Church. Option A is the lower-density surface parking option and Option B is the higher-density structured parking option of the two.
The progression of ideas and development of details allowed for more accurate financial analysis. We also followed up with GDOT to explore the possibility of site access for cars from Moreland (it is not a realistic option), and discuss other design issues relative to Moreland and Glenwood (both are state routes). With the next-level options now put forward, we have synthesized many various inputs, seeking to balance the community’s qualitative comments of wishes and concerns, good urban design, and financial feasibility.
Both versions maintain our initial intent to preserve the Masonic Lodge. We also remain committed to the quality of public space in this project, reflected in the sizable public plaza next to the Masonic Lodge, and comfortable, effective pedestrian circulation across the site. Both options respond to nearby neighbors’ concerns about scale and cars.
We also developed more detailed calculations for parking utilization, so that we can maximize a shared parking strategy (balancing daytime demand such as restaurants/retail with night-time demand like residential) and minimize peak parking overload. Charts are included on the Option images below. We will continue to assess parking supply and demand, including the mix of uses and off-site parking possibilities. We will likewise continue to design this project with pedestrians, cyclists, and families with children in mind.
Both Options also require rezoning the four residential parcels to allow for retail/commercial and/or low-density attached housing. We will assess the best options and commit to incorporating conditions within the new zoning to ensure elements of transitional buffering and other development controls.
Due to the high degree of polarization about density, auto access, and parking, we know that we cannot make everyone completely happy, but we genuinely seek to find common ground by proposing options which balance positive community benefits and financial considerations, while minimizing negative impacts.
Option A takes the most popular initial design of Option 2 and further refines it to incorporate the qualitative comments received. By preserving an additional commercial storefront building next to the Masonic Lodge, the overall scale of the project steps down and embraces an ‘incremental urbanism’ approach with multiple smaller buildings. This also gives some visual relief to the Masonic Lodge by stepping down the heights directly next to the building, and along with the single family house preserved on Glenwood provides variety in scale. Stepping the height of the corner of the building at Moreland and Glenwood up to four stories allows for a prominent architectural statement fitting for the ‘gateway’ significance of that location, without fully intensifying the size of that building.
The lower-density scale allows for a surface-parking lot, which has added benefits of a higher-quality pedestrian environment and the ability to preserve more mature trees along the western edge buffer.
Option A also incorporates a controlled-access parking lot in order to prevent cut through traffic and deter excessive parking. We imagine this will be managed similar to the Sweet Auburn Curb Market parking lot, where patrons and guests receive validated parking, but anyone passing through or parking to visit elsewhere pays a fee. We will also incentivize alternative transportation by providing plenty of bicycle parking and shared shower facilities for the office tenants.
The Shared Parking Peak Utilization chart shows the results of a ‘right-sized’ shared parking analysis. We applied data-based parking demand rates for the specific amounts of square footage per use (office, retail, residential) in this concept and applied that to the peak utilization times of each use. This allows for a more accurate understanding of actual parking demand during the course of the day, as opposed to the standard approach of simply adding up the required parking amounts for each use and assuming they would all be utilized at peak demand all day long. While the analysis shows peak demand mid-day exceeding supply, it does not account for shared patronization between uses (on-site office workers or residents visiting restaurants and therefore not requiring an additional parking space). We know this is an important issue, so we will continue to explore how peak supply/demand can be better balanced.
The quality of the public plaza is also improved – more trees results in more shade, and lower temperatures on hot days. An active water feature will also help to reduce ambient temperature and provide some cancellation of the traffic noise from Moreland and Glenwood. Activation of the buildings at the plaza level will help to make the plaza a destination as well. We intend for the plaza to be a pedestrian friendly gathering place, encouraging local residents to walk, bicycle and stroll to the project.
Option B presents a modified hybrid of the previous Options 4 & 5, incorporating a slightly higher density than Option A along with structured parking. While the density of the original Option 5 is reduced to retain some sensitivity to transitional scale next to existing homes and total height along Moreland, the structured parking requires a higher density than Option A, and the higher amount of square footage responds to desires for more corridor-oriented development and support for future transit.
Amenities and strategies such as directional access at Portland, a plaza (slightly smaller), protected street parking with bulb-outs along Portland (to slow traffic), and ample bicycle parking are present in this Option too.
While hidden behind buildings, the parking structure is the dominant feature of this Option. It physically blocks cut through traffic and provides more total parking spaces, but it also takes up a large amount of space on the site, reducing the ability to save trees and interrupting pedestrian thru-ways. Despite its substantial cost, neither would it completely resolve the parking deficit, even in a shared-parking scenario (see Shared Parking Utilization chart below). A greenspace atop the deck is no longer feasible, due to cost implications and the necessity of a ramped structure for circulation purposes. A ‘green screen’ of climbing plants would be implemented along all exposed sides of the deck to soften its visual weight, and we think it could be partially submerged to reduce its total height above grade.
The cost of the parking structure pushes the financial boundaries on the project despite the increased density. This could require a more universal and expensive paid parking policy than in Option A in order to offset costs. We will take a much closer look at the financing of this Option, and whether the increased financial risk is worth the limited benefits provided.
Over the next few weeks, we will delve further into the feasibility studies of Option A and B to narrow down the construction pricing, marketability, and financing of each option. With all of the input gathered from the three community meetings and over 600 survey responses, we believe we are almost ready to move toward a formal development application.
We will continue to meet with nearby stakeholders to explore ways in which this project can reduce negative impacts and promote positive ones. We will also continue to be accessible by attending the SAND, EACA, and NPU-W meetings for additional presentations, feedback and refinement, and through open comment on this website. To view a calendar of these upcoming neighborhood meeting dates, please click here.
Our goal is to submit a rezoning application in early December to begin the formal review and recommendation process by the neighborhood associations, NPU-W and City of Atlanta. We encourage you to stay involved in this process to help see the project through.
Thanks again for your participation!