Savi Expansion

UPDATES:

[catlist name=savi excerpt=yes]

ORIGINAL STORY:

Members of BPCA met with Paul Nair, owner of Savi, on Thurs. (1/28/12) to discuss Mr. Nair’s plans to expand Savi, the gourmet grocery that replaced Mom’s and Pop’s on the corner of Dresden and Caldwell. Mr. Nair was supported by his attorney and investor, Doug Dillard, local architect, Joe Alcock, and civil engineer, Mike Bell. Bill Draper, Jim Eyre and Jack Honderd represented BPCA, with Jeff McConkey attending as a neighbor and facilitator.

Project Specs:

Mr. Nair would like to add a 6,300 SF second story that would cover most of the site, extending over the existing parking lot. The Caldwell curb cut would be closed. The existing building and the new second floor would be two distinct, unconnected businesses, both owned and operated by Mr. Nair. The first floor would remain an upscale convenience grocery while the second story area would feature prepared food themes and tasting centers somewhat along the lines of the bygone Eatzi’s.

The supporting walls for the new second floor structure would be designed like a building façade to conform to the Brookhaven Zoning District’s design guidelines, all the while enclosing the existing parking and preserving about 13 spaces. To realize this plan, Mr. Nair will have to secure zoning variances from the DeKalb Board of Appeals, mainly allowing enclosed parking in the front of the building. He has filed a variance request (Note: large file, long download) that will be heard on February 8 @ 1 PM.

Parking Issues:

We applauded Mr. Nair’s Savi food concept and his desire to meet the spirit of the Peachtree-Brookhaven Overlay Zoning District. We think he is a wonderful addition to Brookhaven and the amended plan is good except for the number of parking spaces. Our major concern continues to focus on the parking shortage: his plan would total 8,800 SF of gross building area, requiring 30 parking spaces under the overlay. This does not count about 2,700 SF of open balcony area on the second floor, which if zoning is interpreted strictly, is counted as “gross building area” and add another 9 spaces to the count. 15 spaces can be provided on-site, with potentially 5 more spaces developed as parallel parking on Caldwell. This calculates out to at least 10 (or 19!) spaces short, one third less than zoning requires.

Mr. Dillard stated that Savi could meet zoning parking requirements if granted a 10% administrative reduction and allowed to categorize 3,000 SF of the planned expansion as “storage” instead of “retail.” In our reading, the zoning is clear that parking calculation is based on principal use and gross floor area–there is no provision for sub-categories such as “storage”. Moreover, such supposed “storage” space could easily be converted to regular retail space after the store begins operations.

We brainstormed with Mr. Nair on how he might add more parking to support the stores’ gross SF. He is exploring the purchase of land alongside and behind his property without success to date. We discussed the implausibility of cross parking agreements, and current issues with parking around Kaleidoscope and Library Coffee and the possibility of valet parking service, and expressed the residents’ reservations about customers parking street-side in surrounding neighborhoods when they cannot find adequate off-street parking.

Takeaway:

We cannot support Mr. Nair’s project until he has solved the parking shortage. That solution may involve adding land or co-developing as part of a larger project with adjacent property owners. By extension, we cannot support an application for variances at this time as the project may change substantially when a parking solution is reached. Our main concerns are to enforce the Peachtree-Brookhaven Zoning District requirements that especially impact safety and livability in Brookhaven, and to support the many neighbors who suffer when these codes are ignored.