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Developers Seek Zoning Variance to Build $65 million
 Hotel-Condo in Stockbridge, Georgia
By Eric Stirgus, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Oct. 17, 2005 - In Henry County, where sprawl is a way of life, some people are thinking tall.

A group of developers wants to build a luxury hotel, condominium and conference center complex that would rise 25 stories, making it by far the tallest building on Atlanta's Southside.

Though small compared with the Bank of America building --- at 55 stories the tallest structure in metro Atlanta --- the hotel-condo complex would tower over the rest of Stockbridge.

It would look down on the 16-story Marriott hotel near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, at this time the tallest building south of I-20.

And it might change the mind-set of the Southside, which for years has been regarded as an also-ran in the growth and development race.

"If they [the developers] pull that off, I will make a bronze statue in their likeness," said Emory Brock, Clayton County's economic development director. "It will make that much of a difference in that perception."

The project would be built in Eagle's Landing, the massive 3,000-acre residential, commercial and golf community just east of I-75 in Stockbridge. The building would have 240 to 300 hotel rooms and 49 condos, with prices ranging from $300,000 to $1.5 million.

If the Stockbridge City Council gives approval next month and all else goes well, the $65 million project could be built in two years, said one of the developers, Michael Collier, CEO of Tradewinds Communities, which has built 15 subdivisions in the Atlanta region.

But first, Stockbridge will have to adapt its rules for the 21st century.

The city now imposes a height limit of four stories, or about 60 feet. The developers are working with the city to fashion a new zoning district.

The developers also have to hook up with a hotel chain to lease space and manage the accommodations.

Collier said they've chatted with some chains, but can't have serious discussions until the zoning is changed.

Stockbridge City Manager Ted Strickland hopes the project will be a catalyst for similar commercial and residential projects.

Henry County has been in the middle of a residential building boom for more than a decade, but is still waiting for some of the accessories of suburban life, such as a mall or a movie theater.

Supporters say traffic won't be a problem, noting that an 11-lane overpass with multiple turn lanes is being constructed.

But Stockbridge resident Bob McNichols, enjoying a cup of coffee at a Waffle House across the street from the proposed site, thinks traffic will only get worse.

"I tend to think the growth is so great that we would have trouble," said McNichols, 67, a retired Delta pilot.

Rhonda Terry, 26, a five-year Stockbridge resident, took a look at the proposed design and was thrilled, saying it looks like one of the high-rises on the Northside.

She even offered a name for the proposed building.

"Buckhead South," she said.

Staff researcher Sharon Gaus contributed to this article.


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