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P&Z Approves Belmont Hills Zoning Amendments Despite Design Concerns

The amendments will now go before the Urban Design Commission and ultimately Smyrna City Council.

Smyrna’s Planning and Zoning Board voted 5-0 Monday to approve Halpern Enterprises rezoning request for the Belmont Hills development planned for the intersection of Atlanta and Windy Hill roads.

Originally approved in 2008, Halpern now seeks to modify some elements of the Belmont Hills development, though it will remain mixed use. Because the zoning is site specific, any changes to the site plan must be approved by the city.

The developer requested that the board approve switching one section of the development from multifamily residential to commercial. The “luxury rentals” would front Windy Hill Road instead of Atlanta Road. Halpern’s Vice President of Development Steve West explained the move to Smyrna-Vinings Patch last month

“If you looked at our old plans the site was developed into a number of pods—smaller development sites,” he said. “We had the multifamily component of that on Pod C. What we’re basically doing is taking that multifamily component and moving it back to Pod F, which didn’t have anything shown on it at the time.”

Halpern also asked to modify the elevation of the apartment buildings and widen the internal streets within the development.

The board approved all the amendments, but expressed concern with the design of the apartments.

Larry Jones, the board’s Ward 3 representative, said he didn’t think the design submitted to the board fit with Smyrna’s aesthetic.

“I like the first elevation and the façade and the elevations in this original (from 2008),” he said. “This updated version doesn’t really seem to fit what we’ve done here in Smyrna and Williams Park and other areas around here. We’ve spent a lot of time on that architecture. This to me just doesn’t feel like Smyrna. It looks like something you’d see in Atlanta or somewhere other than Smyrna.”

Bennett Sands, director of development with Wood Partners, said he “respectfully disagreed” with Jones.

“This is going in a little bit different direction,” he said. “The elevations you guys are probably used to looking at have been replicated a thousand times over in garden apartment deals from south Atlanta to Kennesaw and every development in between. This is part of the mixed use deal and it’s my belief that it needs to be a little bit more contemporary. I’ll respectfully disagree, but at the end of the day I’ll listen to whatever the recommendations are and we’ll go that route.”

Smyrna resident Mary Kirkendoll agreed that the building should be more contemporary.

“It hasn’t been done properly, but it’s probably not Halpern’s fault it’s the city of Smyrna’s fault,” she said. “You’re not going to get a young, hip crowd of people moving up here because you guys are saying two different things. You want the 28, 30-year-old young professionals and then you’ve got an elementary school right now next door. You want to keep the design old-fashioned and the same old style that Smyrna’s doing everything so nothing looks interesting.”

Despite the design concerns, the board approved the amendments. The plans will now go before Smyrna’s Urban Design Committee, a body that deals specifically with aesthetics of developments in the greater downtown area. The amendments will then go before Smyrna City Council. 

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Tom Lindsay September 11, 2012 at 02:25 PM
I agree with Mr. Jones - the apartments, from the artist's renderings in the August article (http://smyrna.patch.com/articles/halpern-submits-rezoning-request-for-belmont-hills-site), look more like Atlantic Station than even the current Smyrna. Because these lines "have been replicated a thousand times over in garden apartment deals from south Atlanta to Kennesaw and every development in between" is exactly the reason they should be reconsidered.
Skiime September 11, 2012 at 03:20 PM
I absolutely cannot believe I'm about to say this, but for once, I actually agree with MK on something. I think more of a contemporary look for the apartments would be a nice addition to Smyrna. I do like the Craftsman look that Smyrna is going for, but when done correctly, contemporary design can fit in quite well with an older look. I think it adds an interesting level of architecture to our city.
Observer September 11, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Seems like this is just a stealth maneuver to restart apartment building in Smyrna. Look out, it's the 1970's all over again.
Brian September 11, 2012 at 06:45 PM
I agree with MK to some degree, and applaud her for not having an all-out attack. I do agree that the architecture does not be really typical Smyrna but something a little more exciting. I think it can be done with tweaks than with a complete overhaul. I, however, don't think it should be a really trendy look either. That'll cheapen it. I'm thinking more like Buckhead and the new developments in Vinings such as the condos right next to the Aberdeen. With some small tweaks, I think they can do that. The basic design is good, just a bit on the boring side. It needs some flare and that can be done relatively cheaply (as easy as sidewalk choices, lighting type, monuments, etc) However, I disagree with MK about the age group. The typical 20-something or low 30s won't be able to afford these units. A few will, and they can put in some smaller units to attract some "hipsters" to fill the coffee shop, etc but too many affordable units will cheapen the development. So I think the appropriate target market is the high 30s and low 40s plus empty-nesters. To be specific... Good external design: http://images.promove.com/pm_image.axd?pmid=10720 http://www.smyrnavinings.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/the-aberdeen-rearview.jpg http://www.aboveatlanta.com/images/greystone-at-vinings-condos.jpg Too trendy: http://images.promove.com/pm_image.axd?pmid=13750 (ICK!)
Brian September 11, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Too add to this, and in line with MK: I absolutely due not believe it has to match Market Village. It just has to look high-end and architecturally flow from the retail portion. It also should not COMPLETELY clash with Market Village. If that is met, and it looks great, then diversity is ok in a city.
Brian September 11, 2012 at 07:01 PM
I personally like the white on brick rendering (http://smyrna.patch.com/articles/halpern-submits-rezoning-request-for-belmont-hills-site#pdf-11157376) better than the more West Village looking color scheme in the new rendering.
John D. September 12, 2012 at 10:21 AM
Three different committees required to review the plan and provide approval? And just how far out does the "greater downtown area" reach?
Jonquil Gardener September 12, 2012 at 02:54 PM
The Downtown Overlay District is described in the city code which can be found on Unicode like many local cities: Here is a direct link to an embedded image showing the district boundaries: http://library.municode.com/HTML/11505/images/downtowndesign1.jpg You may also see the full City code here and look at Appendix E for the specific district regulations pertaining to this project. http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=11505
Brian September 15, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Here's direct links to the articles in Municode. Due to their frameset setup, the main page URL doesn't change for each article, so you can't just copy and paste the URL you are on. Therefore, I did a search for "overlay district" and here's the links: http://library.municode.com/showDocumentFrame.aspx?clientID=11505&jobId=183075&docID=1 http://library.municode.com/showDocumentFrame.aspx?clientID=11505&jobId=183075&docID=2 http://library.municode.com/showDocumentFrame.aspx?clientID=11505&jobId=183075&docID=6
Jennifer September 17, 2012 at 09:50 AM
I have not been following every stage of this development and cannot tell from the article which picture represents the final building plan. However, I prefer the second one as it appears to be more open and shows more green space. We do not need a wall of tall apartments as the first picture shows. It looks like "project housing" to me!

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