Brookhaven, GA, February 29, 2016 – Commentary by Amanda Rhein, MARTA’s Senior Director of Transit Oriented Development and Real Estate – In response to “MARTA has a problem and so do we” by Chad Boles, MARTA is very excited to implement transit oriented developments (TOD) on our underutilized parking lots throughout Metro Atlanta. The Brookhaven/Oglethorpe University Station TOD project presents a unique opportunity to bring a vibrant, walkable project into an already thriving community. Our goal is to implement a project that benefits the City of Brookhaven and its residents. We have and will continue to be transparent about the strategic goals of our TOD program and the development process for the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe University TOD.
To date, MARTA has held five public meetings designed to gain feedback on the developer’s — Integral and Transwestern Development Company’s — initial Brookhaven/Oglethorpe University Station TOD concept and identify key issues that must be addressed as the developer refines the development plan. Additional meetings will be scheduled and publicized once this due diligence is complete and more detailed information is available regarding design, land use, transportation and infrastructure. It is important to MARTA to solicit feedback from the community at this initial stage, so we can incorporate that feedback into the project as design progresses. In addition, MARTA and our development partner will work with the City of Brookhaven and its regional partners including the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) and Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), to begin to identify implementable solutions to traffic concerns and other infrastructure issues about which residents have expressed concern during our community meetings. The specific impacts of this project on existing infrastructure, including transportation, wastewater and schools, are still being assessed through various studies, so it is premature to provide specific figures. In addition to working with the City, ARC and GDOT to address traffic issues we have started conversations with DeKalb County regarding storm water management, sanitary sewer capacity and public school impacts.
In order to implement TOD at the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe University Station, we must seek a rezoning of the site because the current base zoning does not support MARTA’s TOD Guidelines nor the vision for mixed-use development. The proposed development is compatible with the Brookhaven-Peachtree Overlay District, a zoning district created by DeKalb County in 2007 to codify the recommendations of the Brookhaven-Peachtree LCI Study. The planned development is also consistent with the City of Brookhaven Comprehensive Plan, which calls for pursuing TOD as a key strategy to shaping the city’s future. Although the project is aligned with the Overlay and Comprehensive Plan, the underlying zoning does not allow for a mixed-use development because of the required segregation of uses. The current based zoning categories are: M Industrial; C-2 Commercial; RM-75 Multifamily; and R-75 Single Family. MARTA and our development partner are seeking to rezone the property to PC-2 Pedestrian Community District and agree with Mayor Ernst that postponing the submission of the rezoning application until June is in everyone’s best interests.
MARTA will continue to own its land around the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe University Station. MARTA intends to enter into a long-term lease with our development partner. Our preference is to maintain ownership of the property because this gives us an ongoing revenue source to support our operations and allows us to maintain continuing control of the property.
We look forward to continuing the conversation with the residents of the City of Brookhaven and are committed to an inclusive process. I encourage you to visit our website often for updates throughout the development process at http://www.courbanize.com/marta-brookhaven-oglethorpe.