DeKalb County zoning change may double density at former Northlake Kroger building

A Tucker GIS map of Northlake. The brown areas are under the jurisdiction of the city of Tucker.

Tucker, GA — A potential change in DeKalb County’s zoning ordinance stands to double residential density on Parklake Drive, a sliver of Northlake that falls under DeKalb County jurisdiction but is surrounded by the city of Tucker.

Parklake Drive is currently zoned for density at 30 units per acre. If the proposed amendment passes, it will increase to 60 units per acre. Neighboring properties subject to the amendment are The Hampton Inn, Avana City North, Atlas at Lavista Hills and an office building occupied by the U.S. Immigration Service.

The amendment is the result of an application for a mixed-use development at 2175 Parklake Drive, the former Kroger corporate office building. The development plan calls for public walking trails, vehicular and pedestrian connectivity to surrounding sites, live/work units, a community garden and solar lights.

Kathryn Zickert, attorney for applicant GrayCo., said people were confused about the process.

“Questions were, why aren’t we going after a special land use permit? Why don’t you just sell the property instead of doing a text amendment?” Zickert said.

Projects in the overlay districts of Northlake are only approved on an administrative basis, said Zickert.

In the mid-2000s, Northlake was identified as an area in need of redevelopment. Northlake is a regional activity center intended for high-density residential development, retail, commercial, entertainment, parks and recreation, health care and technology.

DeKalb County defines regional activity center as intended to “promote the concentration of regional serving activities to a centralized location that allow for a variety of uses, while reducing automobile travel, promoting walkability and increased transit usage.”

The piece of land in question is located west of I-285 in Northlake Overlay District Tier 2. The text amendment under consideration does not affect the other Tier 2 districts.

DeKalb County Department of Planning and Sustainability staff said the proposed development, with ground floor workspaces and public gathering space at the entrance, represents the kind of contemporary, multi-use development attractive to young professionals.

Planning and Sustainability commissioners unanimously passed the agenda item on May 3. DeKalb County Board of Commissioners will hear the item on May 26.

In other news:

Tucker Zoning Board of Appeals met on May 3 to review three variances for a warehouse addition that was constructed without building permits. The applicant, United Property Holdings at 1519 Stone Ridge Drive, is located in the Mountain Industrial Boulevard overlay district.

According to a memo, United Property Holdings imports and distributes large quantities of ethnic food.  During the pandemic, the company was unable to distribute their products quickly, which led to an excess of inventory. To accommodate the need for extra storage space, the applicant constructed an addition to the existing warehouse.

“The building permit process would have identified issues with the materials, setbacks, and lot coverage, but the City was not contacted before the construction of the addition. Several alternatives for building placement, material, and changes to impervious surface could have been suggested by staff during the building permit review process which would have eliminated the need for variances,” the memo states.

Zoning Board of Appeals voted to deny the variances. The next meeting is scheduled for June 7.

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