Despite opposition from residents in two neighborhoods along Howell Mill Road in west Buckhead, a plan by Advance Auto Parts and Trinity and Associates contractor Mark Renier to move the business in is coming to fruition this week.
“We’re looking to move forward on the project. … It’s always been my process that we do everything totally by the book,” Renier said of the proposal to close on three Howell Mill lots by Friday. “We’ve had some good dialogue with the neighborhood. I felt like we made a lot of concessions.”
Roanoke, Va.-based Advance’s public relations department did not respond to e-mails seeking comment as of Friday.
Residents in the two nearby neighborhoods, Berkeley Park and Underwood Hills, have made some leverage negotiating with Renier, but “all concerns are still entirely there,” said Will Jungman, who represents Berkeley Park.
“Unfortunately there’s not really anything we can do to stop the store,” Jungman said.
“We talked to the city on several different points that we thought would stop or shift the plans. … I would say we had three different ave-nues in terms of zoning but for one reason or another, none of them worked out.”
One of the main concerns of the neighborhood is safety of children, especially on Holmes Street, which is directly next to where Advance will be.
“I have two close friends who live there and have children,” Jungman said. “I’d be very concerned about drivers cutting through the neighborhood and coming to the store.”
Additionally, he said the store will make the area “less pedestrian friendly” and decrease its chance of becoming a “walkable intown neighborhood,” which was started to happen with places like Bell Street Burritos, which will now relocate.
“They’re going a long way to destroy the overall aesthetics of that particular corner of that neighborhood,” Jungman said. “The large oak tree in front of the property is beautiful and they’re going to tear that down.”
Aside from the Advance store, Jungman said he got wind of other “potentially adverse developments” coming to the area and the two neighborhoods’ residents are going to try and be more proactive.
“If we’d widely known several months sooner, we have been able to do something. … There was little communication. I didn’t about it until July,” he said. “As a neighborhood, we have to look into options to be more proactive rather than reactive.”
Jungman said he is concerned because there is a significant amount of undeveloped land in the vicinity and fears another business like Advance or a pawnshop moving in.
“We don’t need that but restaurants and attractive retail shops would be wonderful. … We hope to work with developers who want to bring in those types of businesses,” he said. “We’re trying to formulate a longer strategy plan and have some kind of say in the development around our neighborhood.”