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.