Officials tread carefully on rezonings for high-rises

LAWRENCEVILLE - High-rise buildings don't pop up overnight like mushrooms.

Similarly, rezonings for the high-density projects can also take time.

The first rezoning filed under Gwinnett County's new high-rise regulations was slated for review Tuesday by county planning commissioners, but it will be tabled so two regional agencies can finish analyzing it, said Planning Chairman Eric Johansen.

The project would put two 35-story condo towers on Steve Reynolds Boulevard near Interstate 85, and because of its size, it is being studied by the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority.

Those two are studying the development's potential impact on traffic congestion and air quality - a process that usually involves making recommendations to developers on how they can tweak their projects to minimize their impacts.

"There's still information coming in on that and (the developers) are still revising their plans based on information they're getting from agencies other than Gwinnett County," Johansen said.

Ultimately, ARC and GRTA will send a report to Gwinnett County along with a recommendation on whether it should deny or approve the rezoning.

County officials, who have the final say over development, can either reject or embrace the recommendation.

Plans filed with the county show Bella Verde LLC wants to fill 4.7 acres on the edge of the Gwinnett Place business district with two 300-foot-tall towers with 263 condos.

Built into their base and between them would be four stories of shops and a parking deck with 529 spaces. A landscaped park atop the garage and a fitness center would serve residents.

The Gwinnett Board of Commissioners adopted regulations in December that allow high-rise condo towers in business centers bordering Interstate 85 and Peachtree Industrial Boulevard near Norcross.

The tallest building now in Gwinnett is the Atlanta Marriott Gwinnett Place. Located on Pleasant Hill Road, the hotel is 17 stories tall.