Editor’s note: At Tuesday’s DRC meeting, requests by Midtown Patch to see project plans from both applicants were politely refused. It is not customary for applicants to provide project plans to those outside the Development Review Committee at such meetings, therefore not all the information pertaining to the projects is readily available to Patch at this time. If you have the plans, by all means, please post!
At Tuesday’s Midtown SPI-16 & SPI-17 Development Review Committee (DRC) meeting, the committee heard plans about a pair of projects that would encompass the majority of two highly visible blocks in south Midtown.
The DRC first heard from a group seeking to build a $225 million, 100,000 square-foot cancer-treating proton facility on a 2.39-acre property bounded by Peachtree St., North Ave., Juniper St., and Ponce de Leon Ave.
Then the committee listened as a team heading a mixed-use project, including 285 apartments, presented its plan for a 2.5-acre property located across the street from the medical facility and bounded by Juniper, Ponce, North and a portion of Piedmont Ave.
Neither plan was voted on and both groups indicated they would return next month to present revision plans following suggestions by the committee. And while the DRC was complimentary to both groups, it also recommended to both to return in August with plans that included “more interaction with the street.”
Up first Tuesday were plans for the Georgia Proton Therapy Center that is slated for the 615 Peachtree Street property. Co-operated by Emory Healthcare, it will be the state’s first proton therapy facility, employing approximately 110 professionals and treating around 1,900 patients annually. Developers would like to begin construction by February 2013.
The main pedestrian entrance to the three-story project will be at the corner of Peachtree and North with retail space stretching along Peachtree - the only retail space offered in the plans.
Plans for glazing dominate the façade along both North and Ponce, while Juniper is void of a “kinetic element’’ as that will be the inside positioning of the four, 270-ton gantries, which will rotate around the patients to deliver treatment.
The service vehicle entrance will be on North while another entrance, which will lead to an interior 180-car parking lot, will be positioned on Ponce.
It was also explained that communication has been made with the owners of The Ponce Condominium about the possibility of removing some or all of its parking deck on Ponce in an effort to create a larger common use area for both the medical facility and condo residents. If such occurs, it’s believed adjustments to the facility's parking deck would be made to accommodate all users.
DRC member Penelope Cheroff of the Ansley Park Civic Association remarked, “We’re excited about the building; I think it’s a great addition to the area. But we want it to be a great addition to street life, as well.”
Ginny Kennedy, urban design director at Midtown Alliance, said about the main entrance: “You’ve got this really highly visible site on one of the most important corners in Midtown. For that reason, there’s almost an obligation to take that corner and let it make a statement about what’s happening in that building. … Give that corner the prominence it needs.”
The DRC encouraged the applicant to let the North and Ponce facades have the opportunity to “express itself.” With the positioning of the gantries, not much more can be done with the Juniper façade (although the DRC suggested the applicant try), but the west side portion of Juniper is a different matter.
That’s what was communicated to Chris Branch, senior managing director for the Charlotte, N.C.-based real estate investment, development and management company Faison Enterprises, the applicant behind the mixed-use apartment project at 131 Ponce.
As with the medical facility, the 285-unit project will feature internal parking that won’t be visible from the street. Along Ponce and North, five stories of wood frame over concrete apartments with balconies are planned atop street-level office space that will be available for lease. It is not believed retail space is part of the project.
The project will incorporate the “Pei” Building at the corner of Juniper and Ponce as its leasing center, making it “the most dramatic element of the development” according to Branch. The 38,000 square-foot, two-story glass, marbled brick former “Gulf Oil Building” is named after its famed architect, I.M. Pei. It is not a designated historic building.
About five years ago, a development called "The Fountains at Ponce" previously proposed a medical office tower, two hotels, a spa and roof-top restaurants for the site.
“Our plan does incorporate a portion of the I.M. Pei building in an effort to maintain that history and use that history to springboard and create a successful project,” Branch said.
The two-story leasing center would house offices on the first floor with a “cyber-café” gathering area on the next level. Above that would be an amenity area that could include a pool and/or fitness center. With elevation dropping along Ponce from Peachtree to Piedmont, Branch westward views of the leasing office along with the amenity area will help “activate the street” along Juniper
After the Pei Building, the remainder of Juniper will be apartments, including at the street level. The DRC encouraged the applicant to allow the building to interact with the sidewalks, streetscapes, etc. on Juniper and throughout the project.
“There’s not enough information in the package presented tonight,’’ said Kennedy, who later added that it was a “cool” project. “It comes down to each of those facades on Ponce and Juniper and North and how they’re going to be treated.”
Within the block property, the project does not include St. Paul's Presbyterian Church, which sits at the corner of Ponce and Piedmont. It was communicated to the applicant that the project’s plans would also have to go before the Midtown Neighbors’ Association Land Use committee.