That rarest of Atlanta birds—a large-scale development proposal without any additional parking—has been spotted fluttering around Buckhead’s toniest shopping mall.
A 336-foot, hotel-condo tower being pitched at 3630 Peachtree Road, a block from Phipps Plaza, would mark the return of Ritz-Carlton lodging to Buckhead. It’s also presenting complex zoning challenges and concerns over density and traffic at a high-profile intersection.
To maximize use of a tight site with height restrictions, developers that include Atlas Capital Ventures have proposed tapping into the existing six-story parking structure of the sibling property next door, the Ritz-Carlton Residences, which has stood at 40 stories since 2009.
Proposed at eight stories shorter, the hybrid project would see 256 hotel rooms on lower floors, with 85 for-sale condos above them, plus a conference center, according to a recent summary compiled by Livable Buckhead.
Developers are pushing to open the property in 2023.
Buckhead Development Review Committee members raised concerns last summer about additional traffic generated by the hotel and condos—and that the existing parking structure next door was already overcommitted.
Jeffrey Elsey of Kimley-Horn, a planning and engineering firm, returned to the DRC with a parking analysis showing that 600 existing parking spaces would be sufficient. That was based on pre-COVID-19 parking counts, plus a scaling back of the conference center to 9,000 square feet—or less than half of what’d been proposed.
A separate study showed a 1.8 percent bump in traffic that would flow through a nearby roundabout.
Another DRC sticking point is zoning, which is where things get wonky. The committee last year was concerned and generally confused at how the Ritz-Carlton proposal sought to take advantage of past allowances for density at the site, despite zoning changes that would cap the building at 110 feet shorter than envisioned now.
Inquiries submitted by Urbanize Atlanta to project leaders, including Wilson Brock & Irby attorneys, to determine where the proposal stands were not returned.
“This one has some challenges from a zoning standpoint that require more detailed work by the applicant,” Livable Buckhead director Denise Starling, a DRC member, summarized in an email to Urbanize Atlanta. “They’re trying to use previous zoning and new zoning at the same time, which isn’t the typical way to do things.”
Starling said the applicants have to consult with the city to ensure their approach is both legal and proper. “Then it will definitely have to come back before the DRC,” she noted.
No estimates on a timeline for the applicants’ return to the DRC or the project’s eventual groundbreaking were available.
If the Ritz-Carlton venture is able to move forward without additional parking, it'd borrow a page from the playbook of JPX Works' 25-story lilli Midtown aparment tower, which tapped into underused, adjacent hotel parking and added not a single new space.
The Ritz-Carlton flag ended a 30-year run in Buckhead three years ago, when its 507-room property a few blocks south on Peachtree Road underwent a $20-million renovation and rebranding as The Whitney, a Marriott Luxury Collection Hotel.
• Buckhead (Urbanize Atlanta)