Toll Brothers, a home construction company, is planning to build new student housing apartments at the intersection of Briarcliff and Clifton Roads, according to a recent filing with the DeKalb County Department of Planning and Sustainability. The developer’s plans call for 202 apartment units in the complex.
The proposed development would require rezoning to allow for a higher density of residents. This would need approval at a DeKalb County Planning Commission hearing and a Board of Commissioners hearing. The development is scheduled to be discussed at meetings on May 7 and May 28, respectively.
Toll Brothers had initially filed a rezoning request in June 2018 but postponed the development proposal until a solution could be reached regarding concerns about increased vehicular traffic on Clifton and Briarcliff roads. As a result, the development company reduced the number of proposed units from 374 to 202 in March 2019 in consultation with the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Uncertainty about the timeline of MARTA development in the Clifton Corridor also factored into the postponement and reduction of the number of units in the planned development.
“If there had been a better sense that a MARTA station would be there at a certain period of time shortly after [the new housing] opened, it would have justified a higher density,” said Carl Westmoreland, an attorney representing Toll Brothers. He noted that the number of proposed apartment units for the development is unlikely to change even if MARTA development plans are confirmed. The Wheel previously reported MARTA’s approval of a $350 million light rail that will run through the Clifton Corridor and the formation of a regional transit group to guide the project set to begin work in 2019.
In a March 29 email to the Wheel, Emory’s Senior Associate Vice President for Government and Community Affairs Betty Willis said the University is concerned about the possibility of increased traffic.
“Emory continues to have concerns about traffic that Toll Brothers will need to resolve, especially due to the existing complexity of the Briarcliff/Clifton intersection, and its significance as a key traffic artery for the Clifton Corridor,” Willis wrote.
Willis said the University’s Cliff Shuttle service is already running at full capacity. Westmoreland said that Toll Brothers is aware of this concern and is working to find solutions.
“The developer is certainly looking at a lot of other alternatives, including pedestrian access as well as better provision for scooters and that sort of thing,” Westmoreland said. “I think that [using] the Emory shuttle [service] is not realistic.”
Tom Woodward, president of the Lavista Park Civic Association, told the Wheel in July 2018 that Toll Brothers had previously discussed expanding access to the development from Biltmore Drive at a meeting with local leaders in June 2018. However, Woodward said that the proposal to expand access on Biltmore Drive would not significantly aid in controlling traffic on Clifton Road.
“They alluded to a right turn only lane coming on the backside on Biltmore, which currently has no access to that plot,” Woodward said. “If it backs up, which it will, to that intersection with Clairmont, people can’t get out turning right or left there when they do that. It is absurd to expect they will control it like that.”