Developer says ‘It’s going to be OK’

Joseph Ashkouti, Brandon Barlow and David Patton say they are proud of their plans to develop an unused portion of the city of Atlanta. Photo by R. Scott Belzer

The contracted owners and developers of an unused east Atlanta property—located at 770 Shadowridge Drive—have responded to a recent petition insisting the space remain undeveloped forestry.

Save Ormewood Forest, a group hoping to preserve six acres of greenspace near Ormewood Avenue, Shadowridge Drive and Flat Shoals Avenue, started a petition in mid-June calling for the preservation of the property. The petition states the property is better suited just as it is to maintain the city’s tree canopy and conserve a “significant” wildlife habitat.

Manager Joseph Ashkouti, real estate development analyst Brandon Barlow and attorney David Patton—representatives of Heritage Capitol Partners—insisted on July 13 that “it’s going to be okay,” once the $1 million property is developed.

Under Heritage Capitol Partners’ housing plan, the property will feature 20 detached cottage-style homes and a freestanding single-family home. In addition, 2.4 of the six acres will be dedicated to greenspace.

Ashkouti said he plans to take down nine small trees and plant 53 new trees.

The target demographic for the development—under contract for seven months and expected to close by the end of July—is millennials, new couples and empty-nesters looking for a new sense of community, according to developers.

“People want a maintenance-free lifestyle,” Ashkouti said. “We’re not building five-bedroom homes with 5,000 square feet to take care of. They’re small, 1,300 to 1,900 square feet spaces that are well-designed and flow nicely. A lot of people want to downsize.”

Patton said the portion of the site dedicated to housing—an old church site with a parking lot—will not interfere with the existing stream or mature greenspace. The property will also feature a dedicated garden area.

“[The housing] is really cut off from the rest of what’s going on in terms of the vegetation,” Patton said. “The beauty of the site is there is a lot of terrain to it. It’s ripe for the kind of folks who want to be intown and want an intentional, communal style of living. Not only is it going to be okay, it’s going to do a tremendous service to the arbor tree scape. The plan is to include it as a communal amenity.”

The developers also said the petition is incorrect in stating the property is under MR1 zoning. Patton said the property has been applied for under planned development housing (PDH), which calls for a set housing plan.

If the zoning is accepted, there will be no townhomes, retail or other high-density buildings.

“[The community] is guaranteed to get not only a single-home development, but a development that is laid out exactly the way we have it laid out,” Patton said. “When people talk about this property at meetings, they have yet to come inside and really see what’s going on.”

Ashkouti said he has met with future neighbors in their homes at their kitchen tables to discuss the site plan. He said letters have been sent to more than 40 neighbors detailing the site plan.

“We’ve left our personal cell phone numbers and email addresses for any feedback, questions or requests for a meeting,” Ashkouti said. “We’re trying hard to get the community to see our vision and buy into the product. It’s going to be developed no matter what. Once people figure out they cannot stop development, I think that’s when people stop and say, ‘Hey, let’s work with them.’”

Under Save Ormewood Forest’s petition, the property would be fenced and remain half-developed.

At meetings, Patton said those who support the development often face backlash from 12 to 15 residents in opposition. He said they likely represent Save Ormewood Forest.

Patton said cities need development to attract “human capital” and leverage for better public infrastructure, schools and improvements that have long been sought in various corners of Atlanta.

“You can’t do that with the status quo,” Patton said. “Atlanta has a lot of [undeveloped space] all around. It’s unusual to have this in the city, close to downtown. [The development] is going to be extraordinary.”

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  1. East Atlanta Neighbor says:

    Despite Mr. Ashkouti’s hope that only 12-15 residents oppose these plans, over 850 people have signed the petition with the stated goal to “appeal to Heritage Capital Partners and Heritage Homes to take their development plans to a more suitable location”.

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