Reynoldstown says yes to Madison Yards, Fuqua’s proposed mixed-use project along the Beltline

The 17.5-acre mixed-use redevelopment along Memorial Drive and Bill Kennedy Way is the latest along quickly changing corridor

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Reynoldstown has given the nod to what should be the biggest single post-industrial redevelopment on Memorial Drive, by OKing “Madison Yards,” Fuqua Development’s 17.5-acre mixed-use transformation of the former Legget and Platt facility at Bill Kennedy Way along the Atlanta Beltline.

The vote wasn’t even close: about three-fourths of residents at the Reynoldstown Civic Improvement League meeting on Monday night voted in favor of the zoning change the project needs to start moving dirt.

Under the developer’s plan, the old Leggett and Platt facility would be replaced by a grocery store, an eight-screen theater, a fitness center, an office, other shops and restaurants, and apartments and condos for about 700 new neighbors. Several renderings showing different site configurations have popped up in the past few weeks; the images here are the most recent. (If you’re wondering, the development’s name is a tribute to Madison Reynolds, the 19th century landowner after whom the neighborhood is named.)    

It’s only one of several redevelopments that’s remaking the quickly changing corridor between Moreland Avenue and Downtown. Paces Properties is amassing land along Memorial Drive and working on building Atlanta Dairies, an 11-acre development promising restaurants, offices, and apartments. More than 20 other projects have been completed or are planned.

“We’re OK with density if it’s the appropriate place … along Memorial,” said Fredalyn Frasier, a Reynoldstown resident who worked on a neighborhood task force that met with the developers to help shape the project, including steering the proposal away from suburban-style retail along the busy thoroughfare. She said Fuqua Development responded well to concerns, “making sure the streets were activated” to help boost more walkability. 

The development will sit in a little grid and a good chunk of the parking will be tucked behind facades, dug into the ground, or will face Interstate 20. Office and retail space will face Memorial Drive. 

Residents wanted the developer to avoid in-your-face parking decks. The number of parking spaces have not been decided.

Sharon Gay, a high-powered Atlanta zoning lawyer who co-presented the plan to Reynoldstown residents last night, tells CL the parking plans are subject to being refined and depend on zoning requirements. But she says current plans call for about 500 spaces directly adjacent to retail, as well as decks that would be used primarily by residents or office tenants. 

Residents also wanted the developer to draw up an appropriate relationship to Stovall Street, said other resident members of the task force.

Despite that, the strongest objections came from Stovall Street residents like Beverlee Pleasants.

“We have great back yards” Pleasants said. “Why does a five-story building have to be put on our side? Why won’t you put it on the other side where we can have sun in our yards? Two condo buildings are drawn right there on the east side of the project.”

When neighbors approved the plan they saw Monday night, they also included an affordability rider. They want a minimum of five percent of the units to be set aside as affordable to people or families on 80 percent of the area median income. (That’s $49,100 for a family of three in Fulton County as a whole.) 

The project is the vision of the same company that’s developing The Battery Atlanta at SunTrust Park, a mixed-use development not in Atlanta at all, but at the Braves’ new Cobb County home. Fuqua, led by controversial Atlanta developer Jeff Fuqua, is behind Glenwood Place, the Kroger-anchored development currently under construction across I-20 from Madison Yards. 

After the vote, Fuqua said he hopes to be able to put shovels in the ground in the first quarter of next year. Between Madison Yards and Glenwood Place, he said the company is also building about 3,000 feet of the Beltline path that would run along Bill Kennedy Way, extending the massive trail project over I-20 to Glenwood Park and Grant Park. Beltline officials are currently studying whether the bicycle-and-pedestrian path should run along the west or east side of Bill Kennedy Way.

And of the overwhelming support at the meeting? Fuqua said it’s the result “of a long process and a good process, a lot of changes and a lot of input.” He also said the firm is amenable to the neighborhood’s affordability rider.

But there’s more vetting to come before any shoveling is approved. Neighborhood Planning Unit N will take a vote on the project too, as will the city’s Zoning Review Board and Atlanta City Council’s Zoning Committee. Full Council too.