DDRB staff recommends denying rezoning for Southbank self-storage project

The review board is scheduled to consider the request on April 9.

  • By Ric Anderson
  • | 12:15 a.m. April 4, 2024
  • | 4 Free Articles Remaining!
A 2023 artist's rendering of the mixed-use retail and self-storage facility from Prudential Drive and Hendricks Avenue is shown in this file image.
A 2023 artist's rendering of the mixed-use retail and self-storage facility from Prudential Drive and Hendricks Avenue is shown in this file image.
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The staff of the Downtown Development Review Board has given a thumbs down to a new version of a mixed-use property that has drawn heavy opposition from residents of San Marco and the Southbank over its self-storage component.

Ahead of a special DDRB meeting scheduled for 3 p.m. April 9 at the Main Library Downtown, a staff report recommends denial of a request for a rezoning to Planned Unit Development for the project, at 1004 Hendricks Ave., at the southwest corner of Prudential Drive and Hendricks Avenue.

The 10-floor project would include 136,000 square feet of self-storage on the third through sixth floors, 100 multifamily units on the seventh through 10th floors, parking on the second floor and 14,500 square feet of ground-floor retail or office space. Some of the residential units would be designated as affordable housing. 

In June 2023, the Council voted 9-9 on a previous version of the project, a six-story development with ground-floor retail, 36,000 square feet of residential and 130,000 square feet of self-storage. The DDRB had recommended denying that version of the plan, as had the DDRB staff. 

Staff said the revised version failed to meet the city’s criteria for rezonings in several respects, including that it is inconsistent with the city’s Comprehensive Plan for development and the Downtown Business Investment & Development Plan.

The staff report states that self-storage is not a permitted use of property under the Downtown overlay zone code, which establishes a dedicated set of property use guidelines within the Downtown footprint. 

The proposed self-storage and apartment site is at 1004 Hendricks Ave., at the southwest corner of Prudential Drive and Hendricks Avenue.

Staff also indicated that a PUD for self-storage was not needed for the site and its immediately surrounding area considering that “numerous properties within 1 and 1.5 miles that are currently zoned appropriately” for self-storage. 

Although the residential and office/retail uses are in line with zoning regulations, including the affordable housing component, the staff said a rezoning would not be required if the project were limited to those elements.

“The only purpose of this PUD is to add a use not otherwise permitted at the Project location,” the staff report reads. “If the self storage were removed from this PUD, there would be no need for this PUD. While the Project does contain affordable housing, the existing Zoning would allow for it as well. In other words, the PUD does not create the opportunity for affordable housing.”

The DDRB essentially serves as the Planning Commission for Downtown, with the Council having final decision-making authority on rezonings. 

Joe Carlucci

Council member Joe Carlucci said during a recent public presentation that the project was facing “very strong headwinds – more so than before” in the Council. Carlucci represents District 5, where the project is sited.

“There are a lot more hurdles on this project than there were on the first project, and substantial ones,” he said March 20 during the Cuppa Jax series of community meetings. 

The current version of the project is the third that has been presented by the developer, Atlanta-based G.I.S. Holdings Inc. 

The first comprised self-storage only. In 2022, it fell off the table after the Council withdrew a bill sponsored by member Reggie Gaffney Sr. that would have changed the Downtown overlay to permit self-storage facilities on the Northbank and Southbank. 

G.I.S.’s returned with a version that included residential and retail space, arguing that the Downtown zoning and land use guidelines allowed mixed-use developments that included integrated personal property self-storage uses.

That is the version that drew the 9-9 Council vote in June 2023. 

After a ruling that the tie vote amounted to a rejection of the plan, the attorney representing G.I.S., Steve Diebenow, said the developer would appeal.

Carlucci said an ensuing mediation resulted in a settlement allowing the developer to return to the table with a new project provided it was “substantially different” than before. 

The project has drawn dozens of residents to Council meetings in opposition to the plans. On its website, the San Marco Preservation Society board says it opposes the revised development.

“Although there have been some changes to the project, as a result of both the community’s voice and the efforts of the SMPS, the fact remains that self-storage is still not a permitted use under the Downtown Overlay,” the site reads. 



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