Where are the 15 story condos?

Yesterday I mentioned that the City of Alpharetta didn’t bother promoting the open house for the new Comprehensive Land Use Plan on their website and compared it to making residents play a game of Where’s Waldo to find vital information. Now it looks like the city has decided to take that game to a whole new level.

A few years ago the city rezoned a piece of property at the corner of NorthPoint Parkway and Windward Parkway to mixed use. The project was named Windward Mill and still sits undeveloped. At the time the property was zoned for office space so the change allowed the developer to add about 500 condos to the site. Many of the condos were to be built in 5 story buildings but the developer couldn’t cram them all in without putting 180 of them in a single 15 story building.

So imagine my surprise when I saw the pictures Alpharetta is now using to portray the “Desired Character Images” of the Windward activity area:







Notice Anything Missing?






Where’s the 15 story condo tower? It’s possible that the 5 story buildings could be hidden by using a street level view but a 15 story building? Wouldn’t 15 stories still be visible? And wouldn’t a 15 story building be the kind of detail that residents need to know about?

But what do I know? I’m just some crazy blogger that actually lives in Alpharetta as opposed to an erudite urban planner that doesn’t.



The city wants to expand the use of high density mixed use all over town so this is important. The proposed comprehensive plan expands mixed use in Windward, calls for condos or apartments all over the Northpoint area and it surrounds a good portion of Wills Park with the same stuff. That is a complete change in the character of our city and residents deserve to know that the pictures being used to sell it are accurate representations.

It’s sad that Alpharetta’s Community Development Department is allowed to mislead residents and even sadder that they use our own tax dollars to do it. I look forward to asking this year’s mayoral and city council candidates why they allow this to continue.

8 thoughts on “Where are the 15 story condos?

  1. Jimmy,

    I was looking at the map of proposed changes ( http://tinyurl.com/4h7ltc2 ) and I don’t see anything changed to Mixed Use at all in the Windward area other than Windward Mill, which is already rezoned. The Comp Plan is just catching up with that action. Were there other changes in the Windward area?

  2. Your confusion is understandable Mike but as with anything that comes out of Community Development you have to inspect the map very carefully.

    The proposed mixed use change for the Windward area doesn’t just cover the Windward Mill property Penn Hodge already owns. The new map also includes all the acreage adjacent to Windward Mill. Mr. Hodge and his partners (or any other developer) could cram another 15 story building or two on the property if they were to assemble those parcels as well.

  3. Jimmy, Maybe Mike is trying to tell you that anything additional that they approve in that area will look like those pictures. Hold ’em to it!

    Mike, please try to put aside the animosity you seem to have for citizens that don’t fall in line lock-step with the City’s agenda, and you tell me if you think it is fair that there are no pictures anywhere (in the 2025 Plan, the 2030 plan, or the North Point LCI plans) that reveal what you all had planned and have subsequently approved? Whether it was done maliciously or not, do you not understand the appearance it has and why it might be upsetting to people who have chosen to place a major investment (their home and time) in Alpharetta? Try to put yourself in the little people’s shoes, OK? Empathy seems to serve a politician well.

  4. Kim,

    It’s not a matter of animosity. My rule of thumb is that I treat people the way I’m treated. If people want to have a thoughtful and respectful dialogue about an issue I am more than happy to do that. I believe that my conversations with you about the Canton Street townhomes was a case in point and I followed up on everything I told you I would. Unlike most elected officials, I do choose to engage and respond but be prepared to take as well as give. It’s a two-way street.

    I simply asked Jimmy about the Windward MU he was referring to. I think he’s referring to the “MARTA property” on the west side of Windward Mill along 400. He’s absolutely correct about that and I didn’t catch that on the map. I guess MARTA could sell that for development someday (which is far more likely than a train ever stopping there), although I assume that location could only reasonably be MU or O-I.

    Even though we disagree on some local land use issues, I agree with Jimmy’s take on state and national politics 100%. I think the blog is interesting, which is why I stop by every day. I don’t mind if people have a different opinion. I think it’s valuable to read what people who disagree with everything going on in city government have to say. It’s a great reminder that there are other opinions out there.

    In fact, since I wasn’t on the council when Windward Mill was approved, Jimmy’s posts led me to go back and read the minutes of that meeting. Even though the developer never proposed 15-story condo towers, sure enough there is approval to go 15 stories on some buildings far into the interior of the property.

    I don’t know what was so disrespecful about asking Jimmy to clarify the Windward observation and I truly appreciate his observation and response.

  5. I appreciate your comments Mike.

    To clarify on the Windward Mill parcel: MARTA has sold the development rights above their properties in the past so that would not be unusual but the MARTA parcel is not the only extra land included as MU in the new plan. If you zoom in and look very closely at the map there are several smaller parcels directly across the street from Lifetime that Penn Hodge did not own and were not included in the previous MU zoning. One parcel has an office building and another has been on the market for years and still has a sign out front. By assembling all of those parcels into Windward Mill Penn Hodge could add that acreage into his density calculation and add hundreds of apartments or condos

  6. Mike,
    I commend you for putting yourself out there and clearly articulating your POV, even if I don’t always agree. I have heard people comment that you were the only one of the seven who bothered to even acknowledge letters written to Council.

    The reason we don’t feel much empathy from Council is that they don’t vote the way a large portion of the constituency feels. Not one of you. (See Jimmy’s later post on Representation.) Though much of it was before your time, there is a pattern of flagrant steamrolling the electorate. I would even submit to you that there has been a disregard of the city following its own laws. That’s just not right. After a long train of abuses, tempers begin to flare.

    I think it is interesting that you agree with Jimmy on his conservative state and national issues but not local issues The policies the city is putting forth have liberal and progressive roots. They totally align with EPA and HUD. Do you agree with those policies? Did you know that Obama signed an EO to strongly advance the Sustainable Development agenda? Do you understand the roots of what is called “Sustainable Development”?

  7. Mike,
    I just re-read your post. I probably did misread your question to Jimmy. There has been so much sarcasm injected in the past and I read it that way. My apologies if I misread your tone.

    One other item you mentioned regarding Canton Street…. by the time you were asked to speak to me, you will remember it was well into the ordeal. As you recall, this was a time-sensitive issue and I had been promised that I would receive daily updates on the progress. I didn’t receive that and had to keep asking repeatedly.

    Later, I find out (from you) that the reason no one had contacted me daily was that no progress was being made during all that time. It was a simple explanation but no one bothered to tell me that. I was either ignored or received a delayed and/or terse response to my queries. All it would have taken was a short email, “No progress today.” Do you understand why someone might feel like they were being blown off in that situation?

    By the time you got to me, it was a few days before the expiration and I was rather frustrated. I have to say that I still do not understand why it was not dealt with more swiftly given the nature of the issue.

    What you don’t know is that I saw things you probably didn’t know that I saw, like the bank/developer out on the property with an engineer from the city just the day or two before the expiration. No explanations. I can only imagine… and I have.

    I still do not know why the situation ever happened in the first place or if the root cause was dealt with. If the root cause wasn’t dealt with, how are we assured that things like that don’t happen again?

    The more stuff like this goes on, the less trust there is.

    I know that you haven’t been involved with some of the past mistakes and no one is blaming you alone, Mike. But you need to find out what has been going on in order to be effective today. I applaud you for going back and re-reading the Windward Mill notes. Perhaps you should even listen to the tapes to get a fuller view of what went down at those particular hearings. I always learn a lot by listening to the tapes.

    You might even listen to the multiple hearings on Canton Street. But don’t stop there because linked to that was the overthrow of the 2003 Downtown Plan that citizens had approved. It is all interconnected and has a lot of history. It is usually not just the one instance. It is the history and repeated patterns of things. Not to mention one of the former councilwomen smugly telling us “We’d thank the Council in 10 years” for overruling our desires. Yes, really.

    I could go on and on, but I hope this gives you some context, Mike. And I hope you understand, it is not always directed at you personally.

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