Developer's expansion plans in north Fulton causing conflict

by: Mike Petchenik Updated:

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ROSWELL, Ga. - A developer’s plans to build upscale condos, apartments, restaurants and retails space in Sandy Springs has two sets of neighbors raising concerns.

The proposal would raze two apartment complexes, Chastain and Versailles apartment homes, on Roswell Road near West Wieuca Road, to make way for 700 multi-family residential units, a grocery store, a restaurant, some retail space and a bank.

“What we’re hoping to do is work with the city to have the future development here be an overall upgrade,” said Ron Comacho, who sits on the Cherokee Park Civic Association.  “We like the idea of ‘upscaling’ development both commercial and residential along the Roswell Road corridor.”

But Comacho told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik neighbors have some concerns about the proposal currently on the table.  Specifically, he said plans to build a 7-story parking garage and to raise the ceiling heights of the condos aren’t sitting well with nearby homeowners.

“We’d like to see a lower profile development with maximum heights, hopefully around three stories and not seven stories,” he said.

Civic association member John Stoj told Petchenik he purchased his house in the Cherokee Park area because he liked the transitional area between Buckhead and Sandy Springs.  He said he hoped developers would blend the project into the neighborhood.

“We’d love to see that transition really be a friendly one into the residential aspect of the neighborhood,” he said, citing concerns about putting a grocery store directly adjacent to the neighborhood.  “If it’s a grocery store, grocery stores get supplied all hours of the night and morning.  Lots of trash, lots of noise, lots of light.”

Neighbor and association member Marsha Holcomb told Petchenik her concerns revolve around increased traffic.  She said the proposal would nearly double the number of apartments currently on the land.

“We want something that is appropriate for the area,” she said.  “The density of this proposal is a lot higher than we’d like to see.”

Meantime, some longtime tenants of the two apartment complexes currently on the 21-acre tract of land told Petchenik they worry about being displaced.

“I don’t know what we (are) gonna do,” said Israel Carreno, an 8-year resident of the Chastain Apartment homes.  “I’m worried about it.”

Neighbor Victor Otolorin told Petchenik he’s lived in the Chastain apartment homes for 14 years because of its central location and reasonable rent.

“This community has been here forever,” he told Petchenik.  “I would prefer y’all put money into the community and put up to a better scale rather than tearing it all down to fancy condos to make money.”

Otolorin and friend David Smith, who resides in the Versailles complex, both said the development could force working class tenants out.

“Basically they’re trying to move us out,” said Smith.  “That’s what I think.  It’s kind of messed up.”

Petchenik tried to reach the developer, JLB partners, for comment on the proposal, but a representative didn’t return two calls to his office over the past two weeks.  The Sandy Springs Design Review Board will take up the proposal Sept. 25.