The trend of mixed-use development has taken shape throughout the metro area in recent years. Stemming from an alternative to decades of homogenous development, the “live, work and play” concept is now embraced by some suburban communities seeking to stand out amid mundane seas of grey asphalt, big-box retailers and strip malls.
And Dunwoody is the latest convert to a nostalgic way of living. A recent $80,000 grant by the Atlanta Regional Commission for the city’s Dunwoody Village redevelopment plans was awarded on the basis of commitment to a mixed-use vision.
“We want to make it alive, a place that’s bicycle friendly and suitable for low-speed electronic vehicles,” said District 2 Councilmember Danny Ross. “We will also insist on green space, meaning park land used by everyone in the community, a place to hold events.”
Dunwoody is currently awaiting the conclusion of a comprehensive plan, expected for presentation to the City Council in April, according to Kimberley Greer, assistant to the city manager. The ARC grant will help fund a “more specific” master plan, adding to the $125,000 already allotted by the city in this year’s budget.
A master plan, is expected to have input from residents. “Public involvement is critical; not just awareness,” said Greer. “We will hold public meetings and even electronic interaction [for those who cannot attend].”
There has already been significant outside interest in reshaping the Dunwoody Village, which is considered the heart of the city because of its centerpiece historic farmhouse and shops. A group of Georgia Tech students donated a semester-long project on the area, said Ross.
A chief issue for planners is vehicle congestion. Dunwoody is widely known for its traffic, and the creation of a pedestrian-friendly, green-space area could potentially increase the problem.
“We need to measure our transportation plan…against the infrastructure and [find] an ability to accommodate,” said Ross, who believes the correct balance of residential space within a mixed-use plan can help reduce congestion. “Right now, my wife and I have two cars and, if I lived in the Dunwoody Village, I can see just having one. I’d be able to walk to get a cup of coffee and groceries.”
Another concern is that other examples of mixed-use development in the metro area may not suit residents. The Edgewood Retail District, with large chain stores, has increased traffic on Moreland Avenue, upsetting many locals. Atlantic Station—with restaurants, town homes, shops and a movie theater – has become an entertainment hub, drawing people throughout the metro area.
“We’re not looking for the hype of Atlantic Station…and we’re not going to have big box retailers like Super Wal-Mart…and Target,” said Ross.
Dunwoody is also looking to redevelop the nearby Georgetown area and the peripheral boundary of Winters Chapel and Tilly Mill Road corridor. Like Dunwoody Village, Georgetown will be a mixed-use project, aimed at a “20-year vision for the entire city,” said Greer.