Smyrna officials are yearning to see the Jonquil Village development project begin construction, but more than anything, they want to make sure the long delayed mixed-use project at the corner of Atlanta and Spring roads is done correctly.
That was the prevailing sentiment at Tuesday’s city council meeting, where council members unanimously approved tabling a scheduled public hearing to discuss Branch Capital Properties’ site plan and zoning condition on the project until Feb. 20.
“I don’t think there’s a person in the city who doesn’t want to see something happen with the site…but it is so critical that we really be certain of what we’re doing,’’ said Councilwoman Teri Anulewicz, who represents Ward 3 where the project is located.
With four new council members participating in their first full meeting since being sworn in two weeks ago, it was the feeling of the city’s community development department that additional time was needed to bring the new council members up to speed pertaining to the property.
“There are a lot of nuances within the proposals,’’ Anulewicz remarked. “There’s a lot to wrap your head around.”
In 2006, the original plans called for a $181 million mixed-use project including 300 luxury condominiums, 160,000 square feet of retail space and 20,000 square feet of office space. The new plans submitted by Atlanta-based Branch Properties, LLC, will be of a much smaller scale.
Those plans have kept the underground parking and detention pond near Spring Rd., but the condos have been replaced by 250 residential apartments. There is more than 77,000 square feet of total building area, with a 45,600 square-foot grocery store. On Tuesday night, it was confirmed that Publix remains very interested in anchoring the project.
The public hearing scheduled for next month will not call for a change in the existing mixed-use zoning. There will be, though, a quartet of proposed amendments, including the removal of two approved zoning conditions. The first would be striking “any building consisting of a single use within the Mixed Use district, excluding the grocery store, must be expressively approved by the Mayor and City Council.”
The other would eliminate the condition that any development on the subject property must provide a minimum of 20,000 square feet of gross professional office space. There is no office space proposed in the current plan, and there has been speculation that when all is said and done, the residential space will no longer be present either. Said Howard Martin, the only citizen who commented Tuesday, “We’ve been waiting on the Publix for a long time, but the word “apartments’’ scare me.”
Indeed, the city has gone to great lengths in recent years, specifically with the purchase of Hickory Lake Apartments and Highland Apartments (now Smyrna Commons) to reduce the high number of apartments in the city.
“We’ve eliminated a lot of apartments the last four years, and in twenty years, whoever is up here might say, ‘what were they thinking?’” Mayor Max Bacon chimed in. “We’re excited about the location and it being developed, but we don’t want to take off and say ‘have at it.’”
So before the city is ready to give the developer the go-ahead, there’s a lot more analysis to be conducted by the council.
“I think every taxpayer, resident and business is keenly interested in this project,’’ said Anulewicz, who later added, “it is so critical for the city of Smyrna that we do this right.”
Smyrna-Vinings Patch will have additional coverage from last night's council meeting on Thursday.