Refurbishment of a restaurant and office in Buckhead’s Peachtree Park is touted as the start of a bigger plan
The renovation of a former restaurant and office building on Buckhead’s Piedmont Road is intended as the first step in a long-term plan that includes townhouses and a hotel.
Plans for 3121 and 3125 Piedmont in Peachtree Park were presented by the development team at a Nov. 2 meeting of the Development Review Committee (DRC) of Special Public Interest District 9 (SPI- 9), a zoning area aimed at design details and walkability.
The buildings, located at the intersection with Martina Drive, once housed the Divan restaurant, which moved following a fire a year ago, and a hair replacement business. The property is owned by the Jooma family, who also run the nearby Icebox jewelry store.
The current plan would keep the two buildings – the house that housed the restaurant and the two-story commercial building – but add them and connect them to a “sky bridge” with outdoor seating. An existing surface parking lot overlooking Piedmont would be redeveloped and added to the rear, for a total of 19 spaces. And 10 additional spaces would be built underground under the commercial building.
Robb McKerrow, architect and consultant on the project, told DRC it was just the first stage of a long-term concept that has already been offered to planners. Future concepts include the placement of the underground parking lot and the construction of retail space and an approximately six-story “boutique” hotel around the corner, and five townhouses with rooftop terraces above. above the business structure.
For now, however, McKerrow said, the plan is to renovate the “abandoned” buildings so they can be rented out again. For the restaurant space, the fire-damaged kitchen would be demolished and replaced with a two-story addition that also includes a new upstairs dining area. The addition would also involve what McKerrow called a “spectacular” new lobby and staircase in a tower-like structure.
The commercial building would benefit from an addition to expand its rental space and another exterior staircase in the form of a tower. Exterior walls would be replaced and refinished. A small patio would be built at the back for the use of employees.
McKerrow said the developers aim to modify less than 40% of the existing site, with the understanding that this avoids having to “upgrade to full SPI-9” – which means triggering the special design requirements of zoning. However, RDC members and urban planner Nathan Brown said that was not the only trigger and that, as Brown said, the developers should make “good faith efforts” to achieve their goals.
McKerrow responded by pointing out that the plans are preliminary and saying, “The idea is not to go out of SPI requirements…. [W]We’re not trying to get away with anything.
DRC members were concerned that the main street frontage would remain a parking lot that pedestrians would have to cross to access either building. Another concern was the use of an existing curb on Martina, currently providing access to a dumpster, as a driveway for underground parking.
DRC member Sally Silver described the pedestrian access as “totally disappointing”. McKerrow replied, “We’ll work to make this more ‘overwhelming’.”
RDC member Bob Stasiowski, who lives near Martina, advised the team to meet with the Peachtree Park Civic Association, Neighborhood Planning Unit B and other local neighborhood groups.
He also mentioned noise and other complaints about previous restaurants and urged good management. Co-owner Rafi Jooma said he bought the house adjacent to 565 Martina to avoid such problems, but finding a good restaurant tenant and having good security are priorities.
Jooma asked the DRC for their opinion on the pros and cons of placing a bench at a MARTA bus stop on the Piedmont bordering the site, which currently lacks amenities for users. This meant that homeless people slept on furniture. DRC President Denise Starling called it a “tricky conversation” and Stasiowski said there was “no right answer”.
The possible historical value of the existing buildings is not discussed – and technically falls outside the jurisdiction of the DRC. According to Fulton County property records, the restaurant building dates from 1960 and the commercial building from 1965 – both beyond the 50-year rule of thumb for historical considerations. However, they appear to have no official historic status and are not included in the Peachtree Highlands-Peachtree Park Local Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.