Monday, May 27, 2019

Atlanta Business Chronicle interview on the future of Dunwoody housing.

Last month, I was contacted by an ABC reporter for an email interview about Dunwoody housing.. scheduled for the Dunwoody Market Report.  Alas, the article was cut for space.  

So here are all the questions I received and their responses, in their entirety.  Happy reading!

What are the most popular neighborhoods for single family homes?

The desirability of single family homes is tied directly to the perceived value of the elementary school for which it is zoned. All of the elementary schools are overcrowded and require trailers so there is demand all over the city. However, long-time local real estate agents prefer to promote homes zoned for Vanderlyn and Austin. These subdivisions are in the central and northwestern areas of Dunwoody.

What multi-family projects are coming down the pike?

The long-awaited High Street project - across from the Dunwoody MARTA station - is finally supposed to break ground in 2019. That project was approved by DeKalb County in 2007 (before Dunwoody's incorporation as a city) and has been waiting through a major recession and the Amazon HQ2 bidding process before laying utilities in 2018. If it is fully built out according to the latest plan, it will contain 1,500 owner-occupied condos and 1,500 rental apartments in a mixed-use-style community reminiscent of Avalon. The developer is promoting the community on social media but work has not yet begun.

The DHA recently endorsed the Park at Perimeter Center East. This is also a mixed-use community that will transform a commercial area of aging office buildings and huge parking lots into a mix of office and up to 900 owner-occupied condos (if completely built out) with multiuse trails and parks. Dunwoody city council approved the rezoning in late 2018. The project is expected to be built in stages over up to 10 years - again, assuming 100% of the proposal is actually built. A start date has not been set.

What is unique or special about the residential environment in Dunwoody? How do single family homes and condos/apartments/townhomes “coexist?” What are the multi-family home communities like?

What makes Dunwoody unique is the combination of traditional small-town community, where families/households are interconnected within the community, juxtaposed with its location in a major urban area. The "small town" feel is something usually found in isolated communities where interdependence is unavoidable. In Dunwoody, residents choose to live here because we choose to depend on each other. Even with other major cities and their amenities close by.

The coexistence between single family homes and multifamily housing is a work in progress. Dunwoody residents view townhome communities in the same category as single family homes. Homeowners in general view rental apartments with great concern as they represent instability in school populations, density that places a greater strain on aging infrastructure, and recent memories of a county government overbuilding the area as a preemptive punishment for incorporation. But our population is changing. The same people who coveted the traditional single family home in the '80s and '90s with a large yard and trees have seen their children grow up, move on, and have their own families. They don't want or need the large home any more. They want less maintenance, less space, nearby shopping, and no stairs. Now that multifamily housing starts looking not-so-bad. There will always be a market for the single family homes due to the area school communities. But the definition of desireable owner-occupied housing is broadening.

Multifamily housing is itself a spectrum. There are apartment developments of varying ages throughout Dunwoody and along the edges of the city on major highways (285, PIB, etc). Some cater to lower-budget renters. Others have renovated to improve their features, or even converted to condos. On the higher end, you have Dunwoody's only high rise luxury residential building, The Manhattan. When residents talk about "aging in place" and condominium living when they no longer need their large home and yard, this is the type of low maintenance housing they have in mind.

What amenities do people want?

Dunwoody is a surprisingly diverse community in terms of ideology and lifestyle, as well as stage of life. Thus, different types of residents prefer different community amenities. Younger families relocate here for the schools and their respective parent communities. Families also enjoy the numerous community events put on by city government, the DHA, or other entities. More established residents who have weathered many storms with county government want to see infrastructure improvements - rebuilt roads, improved utilities and traffic mitigation to name the most commonly mentioned. A survey taken several years ago indicated a great demand for "walkability" to use a trendy phrase. So city government has responded with expanded building of sidewalks on major roads. A major initiative also included a multi-use trail system beginning in Brook Run Park and extending gradually throughout the city as time and money permit. The current conversation is how to add sports fields to city property so that families can participate in sports close to their homes without having to travel to other cities. There is also an ongoing conversation about how to modernize our neighborhood-scale commercial districts (symbolized greatest by the Dunwoody Village shopping center) while reaffirming the small-town identity they represent and serve.

How do residents feel about all the development in Dunwoody and at the Perimeter?

The feelings are very mixed. Some look forward to new opportunities for retail options and special occasion / social experiences. Those who would prefer to see less development are usually those who have to drive on Ashford Dunwoody in rush hour traffic to get to and from their jobs. It's interesting to note that everyone talking about the density of Perimeter development - including supporters - live in single family homes! There is always concern about the impact on the school communities. DHA has been careful to endorse those projects that provide for the growing need for housing for empty nesters and young professionals, while avoiding density that would put a strain on an already overcrowded school cluster. DHA has also reminded developers that greenspace should be a part of any major project.

Dunwoody residents know that the single family subdivisions we have are a precious commodity that are worth preserving. Whatever talk goes on about how to develop or repurpose properties, they know that we cannot let the good intentions and progress of urbanized development diminish the single family neighborhoods on which our city was built. Once those traditional neighborhoods are gone, they're gone. So an equilibrium between our "two Dunwoodys" is essential to our present lifestyles and the future.

Monday, April 15, 2019

SDOC Uupdates: Dunwoody Woman's Club

While working on some larger projects I make sure to find time to help neighbors close to home.
The Dunwoody Woman's Club contacted me  to help with updating their website.  It has great bones but got hung up when WordPress updated to version 5 and the new Gutenberg editing interface.  Lots of websites needed retooling with that change.  There was also a need for the site to be secured with SSL.

A lot of old tools and obsolete plugins had to be pulled out and rebuilt.  There's only a few simple differences but DWC members and supporters will know they're in the right place.  Most importantly of all the club leadership will be able to do their own edits.  Check out the new calendar page!

Thank you to the DWC for the opportunity to help your club serve more efficiently!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Let's talk about GDOT, Farmers Market and Dunwoody Schools

The weather has cleared so visit DHA tonight for hot topics:

Board of Directors Meeting
Sunday, April 14, 2019 @ 7:30 P.M.
North DeKalb Cultural Arts Center, Room 4
5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd, Atlanta, GA 30338

Public Meeting

Announcements and introduction of distinguished visitors
Introduction of candidates for office
Approval of minutes from past meetings

Community Updates
Roberts Drive rezoning
I-285 Toll Lanes: How will our community respond/resist?

Sponsorship Request: Dunwoody Woman’s Club 2019 Home Tour

Dunwoody Farmers Market: Meet the New Manager, Brandon Smith

Dunwoody HS - more trailers, fewer trees
Who do we hold accountable for the state of Dunwoody HS and how do we do it?

Board-Only Discussion & Vote

Donation of AED Device to Dunwoody PD
(Second vote needed due to price clarification)

DWC Home Tour Sponsorship

Next Meeting: May 5, 2019