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No Apartments for Jonquil Village

Branch Properties is withdrawing its current proposal for the Jonquil Village development and will resubmit a retail-only plan for the site in the coming weeks.

Branch Properties has announced that it wishes to formally withdraw its proposed plans for Jonquil Village and that they will resubmit a retail-only plan in the coming weeks, said Teri Anulewicz, Ward 3 city council member.

“The Mayor and council will need to formally accept their withdrawal – this is on the agenda for the council meeting that is scheduled for this Monday, Feb. 20, at 7:30 p.m.” Anulewicz said in an email. “After that, we expect Branch to submit a retail-only application and community development staff will begin working with Branch on design issues. We have been explicitly clear to Branch that we cannot understate that the ultimate design of this project is extremely important, and Branch is definitely aware of the community input we have received and will continue to receive during this process. Next, the proposed plan will go to the planning commission for their review and recommendation, and finally, will be formally presented to the Council for our consideration and, ultimately, a vote.”

The original plans submitted by Branch were for a mixed-used development that included 77,000 square feet of total building area with a 45,600 square-foot grocery store and 250 apartments.

The proposal first appeared on the Smyrna city council agenda at the Jan. 17 meeting, but council members voted unanimously to table it till the Feb. 20 meeting to allow the four newly sworn-in council members time catch up to speed on the project.

At the last city council meeting held Feb. 6 several representatives from the Williams Park Neighborhood Association came forward during citizen input and asked that the proposed site plan be presented to the planning and zoning committee to allow residents more time to review the plans and share their views with city officials.

Several of the speakers also expressed concern about the apartments that had been proposed for the site noting that they think apartments put more stress on public services and schools and don’t contribute to the city’s tax-base.

“It is not welcome to hear that the mayor and council are considering allowing non-owner occupied residential units to be part of the mix of commercial and residential elements for that property,” said Robyn Phillips, a Williams Park resident. “In the last year or two Smyrna has paid significant taxpayer funds to acquire and demolish apartment units that had significantly deteriorated and had contributed to a higher police presence at those properties due to elevated crime and drug trafficking.”

Once city council members approve Branch’s withdrawal at Monday’s meeting, the company will take its Jonquil Village plans back to the drawing board. In her email, Anulewicz reiterated the importance of doing Jonquil Village right.

“Jonquil Village is more than a gateway site for the city of Smyrna – city staff and I agree that what happens here will likely set a standard (on many levels) for future major projects in the city,” she said. “I very much appreciate all the input we have received so far, and I hope that the dialogue continues. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. There are a lot of stakeholders and I encourage input from everyone.”

Brian February 21, 2012 at 03:14 AM
By the way, why are the concept plan pictures attached to this document? That is misleading since I thought they were new from Branch, however I find out they were part of an older livable centers study. It may have caused some confusion today when I talked with someone about them. Please be more descriptive when attaching photos.
Smyna Res February 21, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Brian- I've rethought my comment. It was rash and unnecessary. I think that reading through a lot of the comments on Patch is starting to affect me in a negative way. The bottom line is that I am disappointed that this development seems to be getting derailed because of what I believe are misconceptions about what an apartment component would look like and what seems like an ever growing list of demands from residents. It is frustrating because as much as I want to stay in Smyrna for the long term, it seems like I am going to have to continue to travel to Buckhead, West Village, etc to find places that other people our age like to spend time at. It's not a threat, it just is what it is. At a certain point you stop and ask your self why you live in one place and commute to another for fun/restaurants/life outside work.
Brian February 22, 2012 at 12:21 AM
S.J.M. thanks for the clarification.
Brian February 22, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Smyrna Res: Keep in mind that these things move slowly. I wouldn't worry too much about Jonquil Village. Smyrna is wooing Branch and a good compromise will be found. It is good we had a full list of requests so the result is somewhere in the middle. The growing list of demands doesn't slow down development. In fact, developers often want to get an ample amount of citizen feedback. If they don't, they may not build something appropriate for the area. What caused the most problems in this case, from my perspective, is that the city initially attempted to rush this through without gathering enough feedback from residents early on. I think they got overly excited. That's what caused a backlash, and usually from the most vocal of detractors. People just want to be heard and the city needs to more proactive in getting feedback early on. The lack of pro-activity doesn't help anyone and ends up confusing developers when they thought that part was already handled. The previous plan was a glorified stripmall, essentially, with housing separated from the rest of the development versus integrated into the development. It's almost as if they sub-divided it into two parcels with parcel 1 being strip mall, and parcel 2 being apartments. Even with the market the way it is, they can do better than that, and they should live up to their reputation from West Village. As I mentioned in the meeting Monday, they can just frame out residential and not fill it in until they get it sold.
Smyna Res February 22, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Seems reasonable Brian.

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