Carlucci: ‘Strong headwinds’ await new version of Southbank self-storage project

The mixed-use development drew heavy opposition from San Marco and Downtown residents in its previous form.

  • By Ric Anderson
  • | 2:24 p.m. March 21, 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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A self-storage development that has drawn staunch opposition from residents of San Marco and the Southbank is facing “very strong headwinds” in the City Council as a new version of the project comes forward, Council member Joe Carlucci said March 20.

The project, at Hendricks Avenue and Prudential Drive, last came before the Council in June 2023 as a rezoning request for a six-story, mixed-use development with ground-floor retail, about 36,000 square feet of residential, a rooftop bar, and 130,000 square feet of self storage as its primary use. 

The Council voted 9-9 on the project, prompting an opinion from the city Office of General Counsel that a tie vote was considered a denial. Carlucci was elected to the Council in 2023 but had yet to be seated at the time of the vote. 

Joe Carlucci

Speaking at the Cuppa Jax series of community conversations, Carlucci said a new application for the project was expected to be considered in April by the Downtown Development Review Board. He said he had asked the DDRB to schedule the hearing before the full board, even if that meant holding a special meeting so that all board members could be in attendance.

In February, developers presented the new version of the project at a public meeting hosted by Carlucci and the San Marco Preservation Society. 

Plans have grown to include 10 stories, including first-floor retail, second-floor parking and four stories of self-storage topped by four stories of apartments that would include affordable-housing units.

Carlucci told Cuppa Jax attendees that Council rules prevented him from giving an opinion on the new version of the development, but he noted that self-storage is not allowed in the Downtown overlay section of the city zoning code. He said his goal was to “keep the integrity of the overlay.” 

Noting that dozens of residents attended Council hearings to oppose the previous rezoning request, Carlucci said his colleagues on the Council had heard the community “loud and clear.” 

“This project is facing very strong headwinds – more so than before,” he said. “There are a lot more hurdles on this project than there were on the first project, and substantial ones.”

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. 

“Additionally, the Board believes that self-storage is not the best use of this particular property. For these reasons, the San Marco Preservation Society opposes the development as currently proposed.”

This marks the third time that the project developer, Atlanta-based G.I.S. Holdings Inc., has sought to build a self-storage facility on the property, the current site of Thai Basil restaurant.

In July 2021, 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 and allowed the project.

The overlay, based on the Downtown Community Redevelopment Area Plan, was approved in 2019.

In G.I.S.’s second attempt, which included the residential and retail space, the developer argued that the CRA plan allowed mixed-use developments that include integrated personal property self-storage uses. 

The DDRB staff recommended denial of that rezoning request, but the board approved it on a 6-2 vote. 

After the 9-9 Council vote, the lawyer representing G.I.S., Steve Diebenow, said the developer would appeal. 

Carlucci said that prompted mediation that resulted in a settlement allowing G.I.S. to return to the table with a new project provided it was “substantially different” than before.



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