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Monday, November 10, 2008

Memorial Drive development gets ARC's OK

Memorial Drive's fast-moving metamorphosis from industrial eyesore to a neighborhood with amenities continued last week after the Atlanta Regional Commission stamped its seal of approval on a 10-acre development that would feature a much-needed grocery store.

The project on the corner of Memorial Drive and Pearl Street would add 71,000 square feet of retail, 12,000 square feet of office space and 350 housing units to the area. It also requires the demolition of the Atlanta Dairies building.

Atlanta-based developers Brand Properties wouldn’t return calls about the project. Judging from site plans submitted to the commission, however, the $65-million project’s layout would be similar to that of the nearby Edgewood Shopping Center on Moreland Avenue — except more compact and a bit friendlier to foot traffic. It features storefronts along the streets surrounding a parking deck and courtyards.

It's an ambitious endeavor at a time when financing is tight and housing is a gamble. But it’s also a development that regional planners say is smart for Memorial Drive — a close-to-downtown thoroughfare that’s seen land prices escalate as more people want to live closer to the city.

“Kind of the easiest way to think of it is ‘Paris-style’ density — four stories with ground-level retail,” Dan Reuter of the commission says. “It’s similar to what you find in Chicago, San Francisco and even New York City. It provides a good concentration of people in an area that can support retail.”

For the project to proceed, the city must rezone the property. If things go according to plan, the developers estimate the project will be complete in June 2010.

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