Chamblee’s Changing Cityscape

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Chamblee’s Changing Cityscape

The Oliver apartment complex lies just a few minutes from CCHS.

The Oliver apartment complex lies just a few minutes from CCHS.

Photo by Ashley Veazey.

The Oliver apartment complex lies just a few minutes from CCHS.

Photo by Ashley Veazey.

Photo by Ashley Veazey.

The Oliver apartment complex lies just a few minutes from CCHS.

Oliver Hurst, Staff writer

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If you have driven down Peachtree Boulevard recently,  you have probably noticed the multiple large apartment complexes being built. Starting with the Oliver, multiple complexes have sprung up throughout this corridor and more are still being built. Along with a few new office developments and the revitalization of old shopping centers, these apartment complexes have revitalized Chamblee, which was largely left empty after industry moved out.

According to Chamblee City Manager Jon Walker, there are four apartment complexes that are either under construction or have recently been completed.

“You have what is called the Oliver; the SLX; the Ativa Malone, which is age restricted 55 and up; and, finally, the Windsor Parkview, phases one and two, as well as several townhome developments,” said Walker.

The Trackside, across from the Chamblee MARTA Station, is the only completely new office space in Chamblee so far, with more planned in the Chamblee Town Center project. That said, there has been some redevelopment of old warehouses into office space as well.

“On the corner of Chamblee-Tucker Road and Peachtree Road is Trackside, which is the first Class A office space Chamblee has had,” said Walker. “Class A office space is very good office space with good amenities that people want to move into. It is not for people just looking for cheap rent; it is space where you have headquarters.”

Despite the recent development and construction, the city found that the current infrastructure could support the added stress the projects will bring.

“With every development, [the City of Chamblee] goes through a planning process, and we do look at infrastructure, which includes traffic, water, and sewage,” said Walker. “We try to mitigate any concerns that we find. And these are taken into account before [the development] is approved.”

Careful planning and studies aside, Chamblee Charter High School sophomore Matthew Lombardo seemed to disagree that Chamblee could handle the increased amount of people on its roads.

“I have definitely experienced more traffic in the past year as a result of this development,” said Lombardo. “For the past few years, in the fall I drove up to Norcross on weekdays to soccer practice. In the past, it only took 30 minutes but, as of last fall, it took 45-60 minutes to get to the same place, largely due to how long it took to get out of the developing areas in Chamblee.”

CCHS junior Jada Bartolozzi offered a different perspective.

“I have noticed a slight increase in traffic, however it is not something that hinders my drive to and from school,” said Bartolozzi. “We live in a heavily populated area where there is a lot of traffic already, so adding [two or three] minutes to my travel time [is not] super significant.”

The developments have already had large impacts on Chamblee.

“We have seen an increase in property values; in occupation taxes, which are essentially business licenses; and business openings in the area around [the developments], especially in the Mid-City and Downtown Districts [near the Chamblee MARTA Station and city hall, respectively],” said Walker.

That said, Lombardo seemed to be worried that Chamblee is losing its unique charm to these new developments.

“I feel like the Chamblee area has definitely changed as a result of recent construction, not necessarily for better or for worse,” said Lombardo. “I believe this because of the many new restaurants and shops arriving to the Chamblee area, multiple are chains and franchises, which, on top of the increasing amount of townhomes, give Chamblee a generic suburban feel.”

CCHS student and Oliver resident Isabela Brown-Soler felt that living in one of the large apartment complexes has actually fostered more of a neighborhood feel than her old neighborhood.

“I lived in a basic stereotypical American neighborhood, except we didn’t have much of a community,” said Brown-Soler. “Just a neighborhood [on Nextdoor, a neighborhood social networking app] and we said hi when we saw each other. [At the Oliver] we have had community potlucks and things that help us get to know each other.”

That said, living in a more developed area also seemed to have some other perks than many other neighborhoods can offer.

“I like that I can just walk across the street to buy something or get something to eat,” said Brown-Soler. “Sometimes I even walk home from school.”

Walker seems to think this connectivity and mobility, albeit on a broader scale, is what has brought these companies and developments to Chamblee.

“I think [companies are drawn to Chamblee] for two reasons,” said Walker. “It is the access [these companies] have to MARTA and the street network [Chamblee] has. If you look at Chamblee, its transportation network has MARTA; the Rail Trail, which goes under Peachtree Boulevard; Clairmont Road; and Peachtree Boulevard. [Chamblee] is seeing companies take advantage of the large lots left behind once the industry moved out, and the mobility here.”