Brookhaven, GA, May 19 – Mark Miller of SGS Development, LLC shares a plan his company has proposed that would be between U-Haul and the Subway along Peachtree Rd. near Colonial Drive at 3931 Peachtree Road.
To the Editor:
With the City’s adoption of the Brookhaven Overlay District, designed to be more livable and walkable, the District has the opportunity to consistently link together a continuous pedestrian zone with the wider sidewalks and landscape, the placement of vehicular oriented services in ways that minimize their presence and interaction on pedestrians and bicycle travel, and pathways and services that increase the ease and pleasure of getting about when not in the car.
7 Brooks is the proposed development on Peachtree in the first block from MARTA toward Lenox. The site is between U-Haul and Subway.
In addition to its design facilitating pedestrian movement and community space, 7 Brooks will join efforts to facilitate bike sharing programs, provide needed parking and shower facilities for tenants who choose to bike to and from 7 Brooks, and encourage changes that will include safe pedestrian zones and bike lanes with continuity to facilitate making walking, biking, and MARTA attractive and viable alternatives.
In keeping with its sustainability objectives, 7 Brooks is designed to provide electric vehicle charging stations and car share programs.
Brookhaven has the opportunity to create a highly desirable livable pedestrian urban center at its core, and it doing so will turn on its ability to implement its Overlay zoning in the face of push-back from single tenant vehicular oriented projects. Those projects can readily succeed though pedestrian oriented zoning may not be their standard model.
Located next to the MARTA block, 7 Brooks provides both the denser development and the more livable pedestrian initiatives set forth for TOD (Transit Oriented Development) whereby the region’s planning bodies seek to make better use of existing infrastructure. It is important that if an increase in density is allowed, as is the case under the Overlay, then compliance with regulations pertaining to pedestrian zones, shop space interaction, public plazas and restricting vehicular impact are of heightened importance.
A number of employees at 7 Brooks will leave their cars at home and ride public transit provided this kind of development is consistently required of the development community in the District and particularly in the blocks immediately surrounding MARTA, and that benefits everyone. Islands do not succeed. Requiring parking and decks behind true shopping space for one parcel and not the next fails to maintain a consistent minimum standard and fails to maintain the continuous pedestrian fairway necessary for the success of these districts.
Increasing density without creating the safety, ability and desire to walk or to easily use alternative transportation will only exasperate traffic and congestion. Eliminating parking along the primary streets and segregating parking behind buildings is essential if we are to feel and be safe on foot and to have an area in which we want to walk.
There is desire to build TOD and WalkUPs. They bring more economic benefit to the area, to the properties and to the community, and make an area more livable. They help create community and a sense of place, and if followed, transportation can be improved.[i] While much of the older development that currently exists in the area has previously been driven by suburban vehicular oriented design, the community will realize its hoped-for vision if the District’s zoning, placing parking and decks behind real buildings, and providing a continuous pedestrian fairway, are required. [ii]
[i] Find the links to the most recent review of the District and the charrettes for the area’s redevelopment for MARTA, ARC, and the City of Brookhaven at http://www.southface.org/green-building-services/programs/community-planning .
[ii] For more on WalkUPs (Walkable Urban Places) and the Atlanta region, see http://www.atlantaregional.com/land-use/walkups .
by Mark Miller, SGS Development, LLC