February 2019 - Buckhead Reporter

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FEBRUARY 2019 • VOL. 13 — NO. 2

Buckhead Reporter

Perimeter Business

Mall parking lots become prime real estate PAGES 5-9


Process confusion a roadblock to setting new transportation project lists


Norwood steers BCN toward advocacy P4 ROBIN’S NEST

Dad jokes? They just don’t age well P15 AROUND TOWN

From Y soccer fields to the World Cup P16

BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net


Residents begin working through the dense project information in one of the Renew Atlanta/ TSPLOST breakout session groups at a Jan. 24 meeting at the Sutton Middle School.

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Gov. Kemp pledges to work with Atlanta, crack down on Buckhead crime BY JOHN RUCH



► Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst ► Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell

Just over two weeks after settling into the Governor’s Mansion on West Paces Ferry Road, new Gov. Brian Kemp said he’ll work well with Atlanta leaders and will crack down on local street crime, as he delivered the keynote address at the Buckhead Coalition’s annual luncheon Jan. 30. “I think in politics we all know we’re not going to agree with everything,” but there is a lot to agree on, Kemp said. The Republican governor traded jokes about collaborating earlier in the week on

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winter storm overpreparation with Atlanta’s Democratic mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, who shared a luncheon table with him. “I appreciate the mayor’s leadership,” Kemp said. Like Kemp this year, Bottoms last year won a close and often divisive election and addressed the Buckhead Coalition shortly after taking office on a unity theme. In separate remarks before Kemp’s speech, Bottoms recalled that last year she “spoke of my desire to create one Atlanta” and says she is proud to report that “each day we are makSee GOV on page 19

Around 150 people attended a community meeting Jan. 24 in Buckhead to help set new priorities for transportation-related projects following funding shortfalls. Their main input was widespread confusion about the meeting’s complicated process and information overload about hundreds of Renew Atlanta and TSPLOST program projects as they tried to decide which ones to scrap. However, there’s more time for information digestion and public comment, with the full presentation online with a survey active through Feb. 4, and a second public meeting coming Feb. 28 to the same location, the Sutton Middle School. The city hopes to have a final list of priority projects in March. In the city’s first draft of recommended project lists, many major Buckhead projects survive, including the PATH400 multiuse trail and several Buckhead Community Improvement District road improvements. And roughly 15 local projects are on the suggested chopping block, including the South Fork Conservancy/PATH400 Confluence Bridge, the Blue Heron Nature Preserve Blueway Trail, and a variety of intersection and road improvements. “We don’t understand the trade-offs, really,” one resident said in a common complaint about three alternative priority project lists offered by the city. See PROCESS on page 18


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Brookhaven looking to traffic fixes for North Druid Hills Road BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

Major changes are being proposed to key intersections along North Druid Hills Road, including building a roundabout at East Roxboro Road, as Brookhaven leaders seek ways to alleviate the notorious traffic congestion between Peachtree Road and Buford Highway. The proposed changes also include sidewalks and multi-use paths along the busy road for pedestrians, cyclists and those using transit as ways to encourage people to move around the area without getting into a car. Gresham Smith, the city consultant hired for the North Druid Hills Corridor Study, unveiled its first round of recommendations to the public at two open houses last month. The City Council is slated to review the recommendations at its Feb. 12 meeting with another round of open houses set for March. Streetscape improvements and other infrastructure for pedestrians, such as more crosswalks and some flashing lights, are proposed for several intersections on North Druid Hills Road. Recommendations also include building a 10-foot-wide multiuse path on the east side of North Druid Hills Road and a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the west side of the road. “I like it and am very excited about the city creating connectivity ... and building for alternative modes of transportation,” said Ronda Fox, a regular traveler of North Druid Hills Road, at an open house last month. “I won’t ride my bike down the road now, but with a 10-foot path I would feel safe.” Perhaps the most significant propos-

al is to remove the traffic signal at the “V”-shaped intersection at East Roxboro Road and North Druid Hills Road. The traffic signal would be replaced with a three-legged roundabout with a landscaped island. Representatives from Gresham Smith said a computer model of the proposed roundabout showed that traffic moved more easily and quickly. The roundabout would also create a “visual cue” to motorists driving from Buford Highway to slow down when approaching North Druid Hills Road. Crosswalks and curb ramps would also be built at the redesigned intersection. Mayor John Ernst said a vote on the study is slated for April. Once a study is approved, the city would then apply for federal and state grants through the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Transportation Improvement Program to complete the improvements. When that money would be available and when construction could start for the improvements between Peachtree Road and Buford Highway is uncertain, but major projects are coming online in the next few years that will continue to impact traffic on North Druid Hills Road. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is currently building out it’s approximate 70-acre medical campus at I-85 and North Druid Hills Road including a new $1.3 billion hospital set to open in 2025. Emory University also owns the 60acre Executive Park, across the street from the CHOA campus, but has not revealed to the public what it plans to build on the site. The Executive Park site is zoned for high-density development, including up to 12-story office towers, a hotel, parking decks and

apartments. City Councilmember Joe Gebbia has said he envisions that area would be built out as smaller version of Sandy Springs’ Pill Hill, a cluster of medical buildings and doctors’ offices near I-285 and Ga. 400. As part of CHOA’s medical campus development, the Georgia Department of Transportation is working with the Federal Highway Administration to redesign the I-85 and North Druid Hills interchange that could happen before the new hospital opens in six years. CHOA representatives say a diverging diamond is the best option to handle the increase in traffic at the already busy interchange, but the final decision will be made by state and federal officials. On top of the CHOA’s campus, construction of a new 2,500-seat Cross Keys High School south of the CHOA campus is slated to begin later this year and open in 2022. All this construction and new development will only worsen the existing traffic nightmare many people living in the area say they deal with now. “If you think it’s bad now, you ain’t seen nothing yet,” said Mary Novotny, who lives in Lenox Park, said at an open house last month.

Proposed intersection improvements

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Proposed changes to key intersections include adding a northbound turn lane from North Druid Hills road onto Briarwood Road; converting Oglethorpe Avenue to a right-in only entrance; and adding a lane on N. Cliff Valley Way and a lane on Lenox Park Boulevard. Another proposal includes removing the traffic signals at the Goodwin Road intersections with East Roxboro Road and North Druid Hills Road and then closing the short Goodwin Road to vehicular traffic to convert into a cityowned greenspace. Plans would include building a multi-use path along the north side of Goodwin Road ad part of the city’s bike-pedestrian plan.


A roundabout is proposed at the East Roxboro Road and North Druid Hills Road intersection. Plans also call to close off Goodwin Road to vehicular traffic to keep the area a city-owned green space and add a multiuse path.

At the Buford Highway intersection, recommendations include adding a leftturn traffic signal to allow motorists to turn left from North Druid Hills Road onto Buford Highway safely due to the hill on North Druid Hills Road. Other recommendations include adding “route shield” markings on North Druid Hills Road to direct motorists to I-85; and prohibiting right turns on red from Buford Highway onto North Druid Hills Road. Mike Runestand, who regularly uses MARTA, said he wished more was proposed to make it easier for pedestrians leaving the Brookhaven-Oglethorpre MARTA station to walk to the nearby Kroger or Starbucks. Instead, pedestrians are being routed down Apple Valley Road. Gresham Smith representatives said their study is focusing only on North Druid Hills Road and not on Peachtree Road. Runestad said he also hopes there are plans to put in shade and trees for those who will use the sidewalks and multiuse paths proposed on both sides of North Druid Hills Road. “But overall, this looks like a good plan,” he added.



Community | 3


Community Briefs


A woman who took responsibility for a noisy Fourth of July bash at a controversial “party mansion” on Garmon Road pled guilty to a zoning violation in city court Dec. 3 and was fined $1,000, according to City Councilmember J.P. Matzigkeit’s office. The palatial estate at 4499 Garmon, formerly owned by star musician Kenny Rogers, drew neighborhood ire last year for being rented out for a string of massive parties, some with guests arriving by helicopter or toting AR-15-style rifles for security. At a July community meeting, Tasia Holdorf introduced herself as a new owner of the mansion, though property records indicate no sale has been completed. Holdorf was cited by the city in August. According to city court records and Matzigkeit’s office, the guilty plea includes the possibility of another citation if another party is held there within the following six months. “We have not has any reports of parties since the court hearing,” said Jim Elgar, Matzigkeit’s policy aide. He said the $1,000 fine was the maximum allowed under state law. Matzigkeit previously said he will seek state legislation allowing higher fines for such violations.


The Cyclorama painting undergoing restoration at the Atlanta History Center, as shown from the exterior. Viewer will stand on the central platform inside, with the circular painting surrounding them.



The historic “Battle of Atlanta” Cyclorama painting will return to public view Feb. 22 after two years of restoration work in a custom-designed wing of the Atlanta History Center. Depicting a major Civil War battle, the 130-year-old painting is about 50 feet tall and circles a room at nearly 350 long. Long located in Grant Park, it was moved to the History Center at 130 West Paces Ferry Road in 2017. The painting will be displayed as part of a larger exhibit providing context about the Civil War and the painting called “Cyclorama: The Big Picture.” For details, see atlantahistorycenter.com.


The South City Kitchen restaurant’s local spot was named the Buckhead Business of the Year for 2018 at the Jan. 15 annual luncheon of the Buckhead Business Association. Operated by Fifth Group Restaurants, South City Kitchen opened in 2016 in the tower at 3350 Peachtree Road next to the Buckhead MARTA Station. It has sister locations in Midtown, Smyrna and Alpharetta. Steve Simon of Fifth Group and Michael Robertson of the restaurant accepted the award, which recognizes newer businesses that are growing and JOHN RUCH known for charitable contribuFrom left, Steve Simon of Fifth Group tions to the neighborhood. Restaurants and Michael Robertson of South City Kitchen Buckhead accept the 2018 Buckhead Other Business of the Year Business of the Year Award from Julie Bailey, nominees included: Cheesecaked; new president of the Buckhead Business the local shop of Crafted; Ecohome Association, at the group’s Jan. 14 luncheon. Atlanta; and the Buckhead store of Warby Parker. The awards and nominations were presented by Reporter Newspapers. The Entrepreneur of the Year Award went to Tammy Stokes of Café West Express at 3792 Roswell Road. Other award-winners at the luncheon, held at the Westin Buckhead Atlanta hotel, included: Sam Massell Bullish on Buckhead Award: David Coxon, head of Georgia Primary Bank and former BBA president. Buckhead Beautification Award: The Hanover Buckhead Village luxury apartment tower at Roswell Road and Irby Avenue next to the Buckhead Theatre. Triple Bottom Line Award for environmental sustainability: Highwood Properties. Buckhead Mobility Champion Award for commuting options: Vacation Express. BH

The Buckhead Heritage Society is holding a Feb. 19 meeting to showcase its interactive map of local historic sites and to gather more information from the neighborhoods of Garden Hills, Peachtree Heights East and Peachtree Hills. The free meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Garden Hill Elementary School auditorium, 285 Sheridan Dr N.E. The “Buckhead Historic Treasures” map, available online at buckheadheritage.com, has hundreds of entries, from historical markers to cemeteries to notable houses. Viewers can click on sites to see more information about them. It is intended to be regularly updated, so the society is seeking more input.


The state’s plan to build new toll lanes on the top end of I-285 appears to now include a possible new interchange on Paces Ferry Road in Vinings, just to the west of Buckhead. Other toll lane interchange proposals in Perimeter Center have been controversial as possibly causing major traffic boosts on local streets. The Georgia Department of Transportation is planning a metro-wide network of separate toll lanes, known as “express lanes” or “managed lanes,” which are intended to reduce congestion. One set recently opened along I-75 and I-575. GDOT is now planning toll lanes around the Ga. 400/I-285 interchange area to be built over the next decade, drawing controversy for possible land-taking, local traffic and designs that would place the lanes on ramps that could be over 30 feet high. The toll lanes require their own separate exits and entrances. One proposal to place a new interchange on Mount Vernon Highway has caused concern in the cities of Dunwoody and Sandy Springs, as it is projected to place tens of thousands of more vehicles on that street. GDOT originally said the top end I-285 segment of the toll lanes would be built roughly between I-75 and I-85. However, it recently added part of Ga. 400 to that segment, and recently showed maps indicating the project will go to the Paces Ferry area to the west and Henderson Road in the Tucker area to the east, with interchanges possible there. GDOT did not respond to questions.


After nearly 10 years of discussion, a plan to repair the aging Lake Forrest Dam on the Atlanta-Sandy Springs border is ready, but is on hold due to one property owner holding out, according to a Sandy Springs spokesperson. The state Safe Dams Program has ordered repairs of the 60-year-old earthen dam, which runs directly beneath the 4600 block of Lake Forrest Drive. But repairs have been slowed by complex ownership issues involve both city governments and the private Three Lakes Corporation, a homeowners association that uses the pond behind the dam. The city of Sandy Springs has taken the planning lead and in 2017 showed alternative repair designs that would cost roughly $7 million and possibly close the entire road for 18 months. The Three Lakes Corporation early last year generally agreed to one design option, but dispute over who should pay for repairs continued. “The cities of Atlanta and Sandy Springs, and all but one property owner, have committed to participating with all of the dam owners in carrying out a plan approved by the Safe Dams Division,” Sandy Springs spokesperson Sharon Kraun said in January. “We are waiting on Safe Dams to determine how it will bring the final dam owner to the table to participate in resolution of the problem.” The state has the ability to take dam owners to court for lack of compliance with repair orders.

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Norwood leads Buckhead Council into advocacy role BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

Mary Norwood won election as chair of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods Jan. 10, establishing her return to the political spotlight after last year’s narrow loss in the mayoral race to Keisha Lance Bottoms. She pledged the coalition of civic associations will be a more advocacy-based group, and immediately delivered with the passage of a resolution that claims the city is not enforcing several sections of the Tree Protection Ordinance. Echoing her past as a former city councilmember, Norwood also announced a new BCN structure of 11 City Council-like committees, dubbed “interest area groups,” to propose actions and connect with city and county government. Some of the groups are chaired by current and former officials in state and local government. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to have a year that is going to be a roller coaster and a fun ride,” she told an unusually packed room at Peachtree Presbyterian Church. After her bitter, razor-thin loss to Bottoms in December 2017, Norwood

spent months out of public life, but returned late last year to battle a townhome development, call for a new subway line, and to accept an attempted nomination to chair the Fulton County board of elections. She was the only nominee for BCN chair, according to outgoing chair Tom Tidwell, and was put forward by the other officers. Almost exactly a year before, Norwood’s first public speech following the mayoral race was to the BCN, where she made political commentary about Buckhead not getting its fair share of city resources. The Bottoms administration later blasted those remarks as divisive. Norwood now speaks in softer tones about Buckhead’s role in the city and often alludes to a citywide political view. That continued in her first meet-


Mary Norwood, left, explains the Atlanta City Council structure and process to a resident after the Jan. 10 Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods meeting.

ing as BCN chair. “We cover, as a council of neighborhoods, the entire northern arc of the city,” she told the group. “We are an amazing organization, and if we do this well, our power will be amazingly helpful in not only helping things in our own part of the city, but throughout the city.” In a brief interview after the meeting, she emphasized the citywide perspective again. “This is about every part of the city being served by city government. It is not exclusionary to exclude other parts of the city,” she said. Founded in 2008, the BCN has long been influential in large and small quality-of-life issues, such as road projects and public schools issues. It frequently hosts notable speakers, recently including Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen. Norwood says those functions will continue, but in a more coordinated way and with a more proactive, policy-affecting attitude, “so we are taking more positions and being very involved” in local and citywide quality of life. Then there are the interest area groups, a committee structure which Norwood, acting something like the City Council president, has drawn up and explicitly correlated to relevant City Council committees. The interest areas include: Crime, Development, Finance/Taxes, Greenspace, Housing, Legislative Liaison, Streets, Traffic, Transit, Tree Canopy and Water. Each interest area group has a chair, some of whom are notable experts. Outgoing state Rep. Beth Beskin (R-Atlanta), who recently lost the Buckheadarea District 54 seat, will serve as the

legislative liaison. Finance/Taxes will be chaired by Michael Bell, the chief financial officer of the DeKalb County School District and former CFO for the city of Atlanta and DeKalb County. Valerie Sellers, a former Atlanta Police sergeant, will chair the Crime group. Others are chaired by well-known neighborhood advocates, and all are tasked with finding four other residents to sign on to groups that interest them. Norwood also gave the BCN a well-received tutorial in using the City Council website to learn about legislation and meetings, and offering to personally drive anyone to City Hall to speak at a council meeting. She urged members to attend upcoming city meetings about budget shortfalls in the TSPLOST and Renew Atlanta bond programs, both of which affect transportation-related projects, and afterward said it will be up to the interest area groups to propose any BCN resolutions on that topic. Throughout the meeting, Norwood gave occasional critical comments about city government. She remarked that “the condition of our streets is miserable”; called the city arborist’s decisions on allegedly dying trees marked for development-related removal “capricious”; and led some laughter at a city TSPLOST/Renew Atlanta meeting calendar that incorrectly dated upcoming meetings as 2018 instead of 2019. Norwood also gave a taste of her leadership style, running a brisk and focused meeting. After cutting off a long-winded speaker, Norwood joked to some applause, “I’m going to be a really strong U-boat commander because that’s the way I run things.” BH


Perimeter Business | 5


Perimeter Business

Focusing on business in the Reporter Newspapers communities

Winter 2019 | A fast-food empire rises P6

Mall parking lots become prime real estate for new development

Special An illustration of the Hyatt Place hotel that is being built behind the Twelve24 office tower on a former section of Perimeter Mall’s parking lot. The hotel is slated to open next year.

BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

project on the former Belk’s store site to include a new hotel and restaurant and a 12-story office tower. “What you’re seeing today throughout country ... is the urban coming into the suburban,” said Mark Hunter, CBRE’s lead retail property management professional based in Chicago. CBRE is a commercial real estate and investment firm. “Developers such as Brookfield are trying to densify their sites to make a more urban, town center feel, and not have a sea of parking lot,” he said. “They want to create a more live, work, shop, play environment.” Even Walmart, known for buying up large tracts land on the outskirts of a city to build their super centers, is looking to redevelop portions of their large parking

As high-density developments continue to make inroads in the once sparse suburbs of north Atlanta, property owners are finding a new area ripe for redevelopment – large, expansive parking lots. Mall owners in Dunwoody and Buckhead are already monetizing their sites and their parking lots with the additions of hotel and office towers, but the future could include residential as well. Perimeter Mall’s owners, Brookfield Properties, got the green light from the city of Dunwoody last month to build two restaurants on nearly three acres of a far corner of their massive parking lot on Ashford-Dunwoody Road in the heart of Perimeter Center. Construction is slated to begin this year. Two years ago, Trammell Crow purchased nearly four acres of Perimeter Mall’s parking lot from the mall’s former owner, General Growth Properties, and is now building a 16-story office tower and 10-story hotel on the site adjacent to the Dunwoody MARTA station. At Phipps Plaza, owner Simon Property Special Group, while not selling Two restaurants are slated to be built at the corner of Ashford-Dunwoody Road and Perimeter Center West, off any of its parking lot, a former section of Perimeter Mall’s parking lot. is instead building a new

lots into “town centers” that are intended to bring people together not only to shop but to play in green spaces or even go bowling. Walmart officials made the town centers announcement last year at a retail conference in Atlanta. Parking lots at stores in Colorado, Texas and Washington are already being redeveloped to include a centralized plaza surrounded by off-site retail, like restaurants and coffee shops, on land once set aside to park hundreds of cars. Dunwoody Economic Development Director Michael Starling said he was not aware of any plans to create a “town center” at Perimeter Center’s Walmart on Ashford-Dunwoody Road. Their parking lot is shared with several other retailers, he said, and the current Walmart town centers are being built at standalone stores. But as mall owners and other property owners see their parking lots sit large-

ly unused, like at Perimeter Center, there is a push to “maximize their footprint,” Starling said. Selling off chunks of mostly unused parking lots is not a new trend, though. Hunter said it has been common practice for mall developers to buy dozens of acres of land and then sell off peripheral pieces to a business like a fast-food restaurant to help pay for construction and renovation of the mall itself. Today’s mall owners are building more and more of what Hunter calls “food and beverage pads” in parking lots to stake out off-site places for restaurants and cafes, for example. Entertainment is also trending upward, he said, and hotels continue to be valuable commodities. Office demand is high in Buckhead and Simon Properties’ decision to build an office building at its mall makes sense, Hunter said. The market also creContinued on page 9

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A Sandy Springs company aims to build a fast-food empire BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

A Sandy Springs-based company that began as the Arby’s restaurant chain is creating a fast-food empire, buying up other familiar brands and filling up a new headquarters. Inspire Brands takes on reviving dying restaurants through complete interior refreshes, menu changes and bringing humor to the businesses’ social media, such as Arby’s popular jokes with celebrities, the CEO said at a Jan. 24 luncheon held by the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce. The company was formed in early 2018 after Arby’s purchased Buffalo Wild Wings and the regional chain Rusty Taco, and more recently acquired Sonic. Arby’s has been headquartered in Sandy Springs at 1155 Perimeter Center West, and is expanding into Three Glenlake Parkway, about a mile west of its current home, to hold all of the companies. The company received over $1.1 million in tax incentives from the state and city for the move and expansion. “We are very proud to call Sandy



Inspire Brands CEO Paul Brown gives the keynote speech at the Jan. 24 Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce annual luncheon.

Springs home,” said Paul Brown, who has served as CEO since 2013, when the company was just Arby’s. “We’re lucky to have this great corporate headquarters in our community,” Chip Collins, the outgoing chamber

An illustration shows what the Inspire Brands logo is planned to look like on the company’s new building at Three Glenlake Parkway.

chair, said before handing over the gavel to the next leader, Karen Trylovich. The company plans to move in March into the new building, which is across the street from the MercedesBenz USA headquarters. The building

is being renovated, including installing one of the world’s largest test kitchens, Brown said. “We are obviously thinking we are going to continue to grow,” Brown said. “We have the building now. We’ve got to


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Perimeter Business | 7



An illustration shows the plan for the interior of Inspire Brands’ new building at Three Glenlake Parkway.

tweet joked about singer Pharrell’s hat being reminiscent of the restaurant’s logo and became one of the mostshared tweets of all time, Brown said. “I think social media is one of the biggest unlocks,” he said. The restaurant has also tried to be “like a friend,” including through embracing comedian Jon Stewart’s frequent jabs about Arby’s, even running an ad as a farewell when he left The Daily Show in 2015, Brown said. Inspire’s plan for Buffalo Wild Wings is a new menu, interior renovations, plating, building design and employee uniforms that will start coming out in March, Brown said. Now the company is thinking about how turn around Sonic. Brown expects those changes in the next year or two, he said. One change that they’re not sure about is bringing back roller-skating employees, Brown said, answering an audience question. “There are logistical and human resource challenges, and our general counsel goes back and forth on how much he likes that,” Brown joked. “The fun aspect that it represents is certainly something we’d want to embrace more than it has been recently.” Another change not currently on the table is expanding healthy options significantly, Brown said, responding to a question from the audience. While non-fried sides have been discussed and healthier sandwiches have been rolled out at Arby’s, healthy options aren’t what typically brings customers to the restaurants, Brown said. “The challenge in that space is that people say they want something and do something else,” he said.

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buy companies to fill it up.” “We’ve been very clear. We’re not going to stop with Buffalo Wild Wings and Sonic,” he said. And those acquisitions are expected to bring more jobs, he said. The company currently has 750 people based at the headquarters, up from 400 a year ago, he said. “Hopefully, that will let us bring more people to our headquarters in Sandy Springs over time,” he said. Inspire has started to specialize in reviving dying brands after its success with Arby’s. “There will be moments in time where we take a brand or a company that needs to be turned around,” he said. “That was Arby’s six years ago, it’s actually Buffalo Wild Wings today, where we have to come in and rethink it.” Arby’s struggled during the 2008 recession and during a merger with Wendy’s, which “wasn’t tremendously successful, to say the least,” but it has since turned around, now seeing increases in sales and expanding, Brown said. That turnaround strategy includes finding what is unique about the brands, Brown said. “We really want to be seen as thinking about things differently,” he said. For Arby’s, that meant selling itself as offering “fast-crafted” fare, since Arby’s doesn’t see itself as offering fast food or as “fast-casual” fare, which typically costs more, Brown said. or Buffalo Wild Wings, Inspire Brands plans to launch a new ad campaign centered on creating memories at the restaurants, Brown said. Changing Arby’s social media strategy has been key in turning the company around, Brown said. One famous

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Special Edward Jones-Financial Advisor Jennifer A. Howard opened a new office Jan. 11 at 1870 Independence Square, Suite A, Dunwoody. Helping to cut the ribbon were, front row, from left: Stephanie Freeman, president and CEO of the Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber of Commerce; City Councilmember Jim Riticher; Mayor Denis Shortal; Jennifer Howard; Chris Winter, Jonathan Winter, Patricia Bickel; Brent Morris; Shelley Pritchett; and Rick Cardot; with Chamber members in the back. Info: edwardjones.com.

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The staff of Atlanta Fitness Diva celebrated a grand reopening in late 2018 after a lightning strike burned the business at 855 Mount Vernon Highway N.E., Sandy Springs. Info: atlantafitnessdiva.com.



Perimeter Business | 9


Mall parking lots become prime real estate for new development Continued from page 5 ates a high daytime population of workers wanting a place to grab lunch or have a cocktail with friends at the end of the day. Phipps Plaza and its tenants provide all of these, and a new office building feeds those existing businesses. The developments at Perimeter Mall and Phipps Plaza continue to be some of the best ways to densify an area such as an expansive parking lots, Hunter said. The trend to watch out for, he added, is the addition of residential to the mix to truly create the live, work, shop, play environment that the real estate market is trending toward. In Atlanta, millennials opt not to live in the suburbs initially and prefer the intown experience, he said. But as they get married and have kids, some will move back to the suburbs for their children’s education. As that continues to happen, mall owners could see a desire for more residential living where there already exists a shop, work and play development. In the San Francisco Bay Area last year, for example, mixed-use residential communities were planned at shopping malls in Richmond, Newark, Fremont and Daly City, according to the San Francisco Business Times. The Newark City Council last year approved Brookfield Properties, owner of the NewPark

Mall and the owner of Perimeter Mall, to build 1,800 residential units in parking lots surrounding the 1.1 million square foot mall. “There will still be the retail core within some malls ... but as you see the evolution of work, play, shop and live, there will be a move to integrate all four cate-

gories,” Hunter said. “Those that do it will be very successful.” The moves by malls and places like Walmart to create new spaces is because there is essentially too much retail space in the U.S. per capita, Hunter said. Building in parking lots is part of “right-sizing the footprint.”

“Most of these locations, and Perimeter Mall is a very good example ... they’re taking advantage of the changing demographics and shopper needs to stay ahead. The whole shop, work, live, play environment is so important to today’s customers,” he said.

Phil Mosier Construction crews work on the parking deck portion of the Twelve24 office tower in Dunwoody. The 16-story office tower is being built on what was once a part of Perimeter Mall’s parking lot. The office tower is slated to open in 2020.


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10 | Art & Entertainment

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A master of illusions on his life of working wonders BY JUDITH SCHONBAK On a small notepad, illusionist Vitaly Beckman draws a leaf. With a simple motion, he slides his hand down the page and the leaf turns green and comes to life. Literally. He lifts it off the page and hands it to an audience member. He can also make your driver’s license picture disappear (don’t we all wish that could happen) and make it appear on someone else’s. He makes pictures in a photo album move; brings a winter-bare tree spring into life with leaves, which he throws into the audience. He teleports and levitates objects, including a paintbrush that paints by itself. Vitaly, who performs under his first name, is hailed as a master of illusion by critics and audiences alike around the world. He designs and invents every one of his illusions. At 31, he is among the youngest well-known illusionists, and is making a name for himself, including performances on Broadway. He makes his first performances in Atlanta on Feb. 9 and 10 at the Marcus Jewish Community Center Atlanta in Dunwoody. Born in Belarus, his family emigrated to Israel, where he grew up in Haifa. The magic bug bit him at

an early age and he was performing at age 14. His parents urged him to pursue an education that would result in a realworld job, and he earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering . He left that field, however, after only a few years to pursue his passion for magic and illusion. The Reporter caught up with Vitaly from his home in Vancouver between stops on his “Evening of Wonders” tour. Q: What took you from Israel to Canada? A: I wanted to live in North America and my brother lived in Vancouver. There

seemed to be so many possibilities and venues to perform in Canada and the United States. My big dream was to make it to Broadway. Q: When did you first get interested in magic and illusion? A: I played around with card tricks when I was 8 or so, but from a very early age, I drew and painted. I always had a small notepad with me and would draw whatever caught my eye. In fact, my parents thought I would be a painter. When I was 8, they gave me a magic kit. It intrigued me, but mostly I pursued art. I love all the arts: visual, music, theater, everything. Q: It seems the seed had been planted. When did you get serious about magic? A: I saw David Copperfield on TV several times and was so amazed at what he could do. So, I started practicing, figuring things out as I went along. I started performing for family, friends when I was 14. Q: Did you have a friend or mentor who helped you? A: No. And there was no internet or YouTube. I did it by trial and error. It’s a long way to learn. I invented my own method. It opened my creativity. I never did or do anything by the book. For me, magic is an artform and it brings art to life. Q: How do you come up with a con-

stant stream of material? A: The trick is to never stop thinking. I think about new illusions all the time: at a movie, in the shower, walking – anytime and anywhere. I think about it, too, while I am performing. Q: You always involve your audience members, often oneon-one. Why do you make that part of your performances? A: I love the audiences. On stage, I feel that I bring art to life in that moment with the audience. I want to encourage and rebuild their childhood sense of wonder and bridge the gap between dreams and reality. In a way, I want to show them that there are no limitations to their dreams or imaginations. I love that magic brings joy to people. Q: Did your education as a mechanical engineer help you devise your illusions? A: In one sense it did. The most important thing it taught me was how to think well. Q: There is a code of honor among magicians that they do not reveal to non-magicians how the magic is done. Do you follow that code? A: I do. The real reason for it is that it preserves the enjoyment and sense of won-


Art & Entertainment | 11


der for audiences. Magic of various kinds has been around since ancient days. Q: Your journey took you to the superstar magicians’ Penn & Teller show “Fool Us” in the summer of 2016. You succeeded in fooling them. Were you surprised? A: I thought I had a chance, but, yes, I was surprised. I won the “Fool Us” trophy and a spot in their Las Vegas show in the fall of 2016. It’s been great exposure for my career. Q: You said you dreamed of taking your illusions to Broadway, and you made it. Tell us about that experience. A: In 2018, I performed in the Off-Broadway Westside Theatre, the same one where Penn & Teller launched their career in the 1980s. The show ran from

mid-June to the end of September. It was a dream come true. It was an honor and a privilege. I had heard that it takes a lot to astonish New Yorkers, but the audiences were amazing. Q: Do you have favorite illusions that you perform? A: I have several, but making people’s photo disappear from their driver’s license and reappear on someone else’s is fun and I enjoy how it amazes them.

Vitaly: An Evening of Wonders Marcus Jewish Community Center Atlanta Feb. 9, 8 p.m. (Sold out) and Feb. 10, 5 p.m. Info: eveningofwonders.com or mjcca.org

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12 | Art & Entertainment

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Jewish Film Festival panel to discuss the alt-right’s ‘Age of Rage’ BY DOUG CARROLL Radical involvement in the alt-right was all wrong for Shannon Martinez, who now works to help others leave the deadend road she was on 30 years ago. Sexually assaulted by two men at age 14, Martinez says she “took all the unprocessed trauma and shoved it down,” looking for acceptance in the neo-Nazi, skinhead subculture — and looking to inflict her pain on others. “They’re Nazis, they have to take me in,” she says she reasoned at the time. The price of admission was to overtly espouse an ideology of hatred, and she willingly paid it for nearly five years. “I was consumed with rage and self-hatred,” said Martinez, now program manager for the Free Radicals Project and using the hard lessons she learned to redirect those who have turned to violencebased extremism. “Because I’ve been there, I can listen to the stories behind the stories without judgment,” she says. Martinez, 44, a mother of seven who lives in Athens, is scheduled to participate in a panel discussion following screenings of “Alt-Right: Age of Rage,” a documentary film that is part of this year’s Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. A local showing of “AltRight” is scheduled for Feb. 18 at Regal Perimeter Pointe in Sandy Springs; it also screens Feb. 7 at the Regal Atlantic Station. The 106-minute film tells the story of the alt-right through two of its most prominent provocateurs, Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor. It also includes the perspectives of anti-fascist militant Daryle Lamont Jenkins and scholar Mark Potok. Potok, who is scheduled to be part of the panel discussion, says the term “altright” represents “a rebranding of white supremacy for public relations purposes.” He says social media have revolutionized how such groups come to light and are covered. When traditional print and TV media ignored such groups 50 years ago, Potok says, the strategy was largely effective. But that doesn’t work in the Facebook and Twitter age, he says. “There are thousands of outlets that will pay attention,” said Potok, 63, who lives in Montgomery, Ala., and is a senior fellow at the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right. He was with the Southern Poverty Law Center, a prominent civil rights advocacy organization, for 20 years. “Educating people about these groups is the real inoculation,” Potok said. “The idea is to expose the truth and tell facts about their leaders that they don’t want known. You give them some coverage, but you point out what these groups really are.” Martinez, who has spoken at the United Nations on extremism, says that individuals who become intensely involved

want more than this?’ For me, there was only the present, and she connected me to the resources to put other things in play.” The process of disconnecting from the subculture, Martinez said, was a “slow undoing” that included college studies in New Mexico and still involves making amends to those she hurt. “This lifestyle is like an abusive relationship and the feeling that you can’t leave,” Martinez said. “There’s a doubling down, because you have the feeling that no one will want you after this.” Potok says he sees similarities between the current rise of the alt-right with the social and cultural environment of the 1920s. “That was a time of huge change,” he says, “and it was challenging to those who weren’t comfortable with things changing so fast. It was a battle between a new and old America, and it was a time when the country flirted with fascism. The Ku Klux Klan had its largest membership in 1925 with 4 million members. “We’re living in a similar time now, with big changes related to globalization. There are lots of changes, and lots of people who resent them.” David Lewis, a former CNN reporter who has covered stories pertaining to the alt-right, is scheduled to moderate the panel discussion. He agrees with Potok that changes in the media landscape have contributed to the rise of such movements. “With the bullhorn of the internet, ideas can build a following through the digital world,” Lewis says. “This used to be very covert and hidden, and that’s different now. There was no Richard Spencer figure 20 years ago.” Potok notes that Dylann Roof, who carried out the church massacre in Charleston, S.C., in 2015 that claimed the lives of nine African American attendees at a Bible study, never had any contact with white-supremacy groups — even though he claimed the ideology as his own. “He took it all from the internet,” Potok says. Mark Potok, an expert in far-right extremism.

in the subculture usually have things in common. “These are people who really struggle with belonging and identity,” she said. “They want to feel that their life has meaning. About 90 percent have some sort of trauma piece to it, whether that is parental conflict, drug abuse or physical abuse. We need to do a better job of looking at undesirable behavior and approaching it from a trauma-informed perspective.”


Shannon Martizen, a former radical white supremacist who will speak at Atlanta Jewish Film Festival screenings of “Alt-Right: Age of Rage.”

She says her turnaround began when, while on the outs with her parents, she was taken in by the mother of an Army serviceman she was dating. The woman encouraged her to see beyond self-destruction. “She extended sympathy and compassion and took a chance on me when I did not feel deserving,” Martinez said. “She dreamed dreams for me. She never argued with me, but she would ask, ‘Don’t you just

“Alt-Right: Age of Rage” Feb. 18, 7 p.m. Regal Perimeter Pointe 1155 Mount Vernon Highway, Sandy Springs Part of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, Feb. 6-26 Tickets and info: ajff.org


Community | 13


18-story luxury senior housing tower proposed on Peachtree Road SPECIAL

Far left, an illustration of the Heartis Buckhead luxury senior housing tower proposed for the intersection of Peachtree Road and Peachtree Valley Road. GOOGLE MAPS

Left, the 2045 Peachtree Road site as seen on Google Maps. The office tower would remain and undergo renovation. The new building and parking structure would replace the existing parking areas.

BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

An 18-story luxury senior housing tower is proposed for a Buckhead site across Peachtree Road from the Shepherd Center. The plan, which also involves renovating an existing 10-story medical office tower on the site, joins a boom in Buckhead-area senior residential projects. Dubbed “Heartis Buckhead,” the senior housing is proposed by Caddis, a Texas-based real estate firm specializing in healthcare-related properties. The 213-unit, 278,000-square-foot building would stand at 2045 Peachtree at the intersection with Peachtree Valley Road. Caddis aims to open the building in 2021, but is still in the permitting phase, according to a spokesperson. “This will be the first luxury high-rise senior living community Caddis has developed and it will be one of the most sumptuous is the country,” Caddis CEO Jason L. Signor said in a press release. “There’s a growing trend of offering high-end, resort-style senior high rises in major metro areas of the country.” It’s a trend in Buckhead as well, with the long-planned Peachtree Hills Place develop-

ment and another major luxury senior residential community recently announced on a Howell Mill Road site. Caddis says it will offer independent living, assisted living and memory care apartments units, a mix that allows residents to stay long-term. Canterbury Court and Lenbrook, two operators that have long run complexes on Peachtree Road with that mix of housing types, are planning major expansions. Heartis Buckhead would have a variety of on-site amenities, such as a game room and beauty parlor, and aims to tout the neighborhood as well. “Heartis Buckhead will offer all of this in a sought-after, vibrant area of Atlanta where people want to live. Local residents will find that Heartis Buckhead takes senior living to new heights – no pun intended,” Signor said in the press release. The development would involve demolishing an existing two-story parking structure on the site and replacing it with another two-story structure to serve both the senior residences and the existing office tower. A “landscaped plaza” is also proposed, according to the press release. The project site is next door to the historic Darlington Apartments, which has its own renovation underway amid controversy.


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14 | Commentary

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Community Survey: LGBTQ laws and religious freedom bills A new LGBTQ antidiscrimination law coming out of Doraville should be copied by other cities, while new religious freedom laws should not emerge from the Gold Dome. Those were takeaways from a majority of the 200 local residents in a Reporter/1Q. com survey about the ongoing debate of LGBTQ rights and religious liberty. The survey was conducted by 1Q.com via cellphones used by residents of Reporter Newspapers communities. The results are not scientific. Of the 200 survey respondents, 69 percent said other cities should have an antidiscrimination law like Doraville’s, with 18 percent saying no; another 13 percent were unsure. “It is ridiculous that in 2019 in the U.S. we need to pass laws such as this, but racism, sexism, homophobia and other diseases of the radical right wing are stronger than ever,” said a 53-yearold Brookhaven man in one response. As for religious freedom laws, which come in a wide variety of proposed forms, 52.5 percent opposed the idea, 20 percent were in favor, and a significant amount – 27.5 percent – said they were uncertain or did not express a direct preference. “We have a country with separation of church and state. Religion is already protected under the Constitution,” said a 47-year-old Atlanta man who opposes such laws. The General Assembly is expected this session to once again take up some form of religious freedom legislation, which has roiled the legislature for several years. Such laws broadly seek to impose stronger limits on the state’s ability to regulate private religious practices, and have drawn controversy for possibly enabling discrimination, particularly against LGBTQ people In 2016, amid strong opposition from Atlanta’s corporate community, then Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed one bill that would have permitted religious organizations to

discriminate in employment and the providing of charitable services. New Gov. Brian Kemp has pledged to pass a religious freedom law that he says would mirror an existing federal version that is presented as less controversial. Meanwhile, Doraville recently became the second city in Georgia – after Atlanta – to prohibit discrimination in private businesses, including against LGBTQ people. City Councilmember Stephe Koontz, who spearheaded the ordinance, has said its intent is to get other cities to adopt similar protections. Chamblee and Clarkston already are following suit. Brookhaven and Dunwoody say they have no plans for such an anti-discrimination ordinance, and

to prioritize making our state as welcoming and as inclusive as possible to ensure our continued economic growth.” As for religious freedom laws, a 40-yearold Brookhaven woman said “they are an avenue for entities or individuals to discriminate.” Respondents who opposed Doraville’s ordinance largely said they do not believe in discrimination, but that the marketplace should weed out private businesses that do so. Some also questioned whether the law is enforceable or will make any difference in practice. “I think nondiscrimination is something that all people should abide by. However, I don’t think spending time and resources creating a law against discrimination against customers can be justly enforced,” said a 24-year-old Buckhead/Sandy Springs woman. Many backers of religious freedom laws said that ensuring religious diversity and nondiscrimination is important, of respondents of respondents said and several also cited the private maropposed religious cities should have an ket’s forces. freedom laws anti-discrimination “The government has no business law like Doraville’s choosing one party’s freedom over the freedom of another party,” said a Sandy Springs says it believes it is legally 52-year-old Buckhead man. “Making a prohibited from doing so. business owner contradict his or her reliA common view among the majority of gious beliefs is wrong, particularly when respondents was that antidiscrimination the service is available elsewhere for the laws are needed, while religion is already complaining party.” legally protected, and that religious freeA few respondents opposed both laws dom laws are intended to enable discrimon libertarian grounds. A couple of responination. Several also cited the publicity and dents suggested passing both as a way to economic impacts of the state appearing to ensure everyone’s rights. be backwards on civil rights. “We should allow religious freedom, but “Good for Doraville! Since Georgia’s we cannot sacrifice our duty we have to new governor Brian Kemp has vowed to our fellow citizens to protect their rights,” sign a ‘religious freedom’ bill into law, it’s said a 22-year-old Sandy Springs man. apparently now up to our local commu“If that means we’re discriminating nities to offer protections to minority citiagainst LGBT members [of society], there zens,” a 53-year-old Atlanta man said. “With must be additional laws implementing that a multibillion-dollar film and television insuch discrimination will not occur. Both isdustry and homegrown businesses like sues at hand are addressed in the Bill of Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola and Home Depot Rights and it seems like both religious freeall employing a diverse workforce, we need dom and equality can and should coexist.”

69 53 %

Should other cities adopt a nondiscrimination law like Doraville’s?


Should the state pass a religious freedom law?

Yes, absolutely. This shouldn’t even be a question. Discrimination is never OK, not only in the workplace, but anywhere in society. --22-year-old Sandy Springs man

No, freedoms need to be protected for every U.S. citizen! --46-year-old Sandy Springs woman

Yes!!! Besides it being the right thing to do in a country that prides itself on the freedom it offers, making these sorts of moves will help businesses outside the South look at the Atlanta area as more forward-thinking than the rest of the state. --38-year-old Atlanta woman

I don’t think any group should be able to [discriminate], but I don’t believe religious institutions should be forced to make change. --51-year-old Sandy Springs man

While I don’t agree with discrimination and personally don’t understand why businesses would turn away customers, I do not believe that additional laws are necessary. If someone does not want my business I am not going to force them to take my money! --55-year-old Atlanta woman

No, there should not be any discrimination and I am 100 percent against this law because I am an atheist. --19-year-old Dunwoody man These laws reflect poorly on Georgia, drive away economic investments, and reflect a discriminatory animus. --34-year-old Atlanta man

Yes, because I’m not a bigot. --21-year-old Buckhead/Sandy Springs man



Commentary | 15


Chin Chin

Dad jokes do not leave us all laughing Last month was a joyful one in my household as kids trickled in and out for visits during their winter breaks. It was only marred by one thing. Not laundry. Not empty gas tanks. Not crushed cans and crumpled napkins strewn around the den. No, it was marred by dad jokes. Since my husband’s audience has moved out of the house in pursuit of higher education and left him alone with his corny jokes and unappreciative wife, the constant volleying of dad jokes has practically ceased. This has turned out to be (for me) an unexpected perk of the Empty Nest. But as soon as my youngest entered the door in late December, it began again. My son stood in the kitchen with his backpack still strapped on, dropped his laundry bag and announced, “Hey! I’m home!” And my husband immediately replied, “No you’re not, you’re Michael!” Do you get it? Then welcome to my world. For the rest of the break, each time we got in the car and someone asked where we were going, my husband would respond with, “Crazy!” Road trips digressed from there. We might pass a sign that said “Roadwork Ahead,” giving my spouse the golden opportunity to announce, “I sure hope it does!” These are the sort of jokes that only half of the car appreRobin Conte lives with ciates. These are not just bad jokes, these are groan-inducher husband in an emping jokes. ty nest in Dunwoody. Since the household’s humor scale had once again tipped in my husband’s favor while I was left standing in the kitchen rolling my eyes, I decided to investigate a bit to find out what exactly makes a joke a “dad joke.” I consulted the internet, naturally, and found that on the World Wide Web, dogs are the one delivering the lame jokes. So, the competition is fierce. But when I consulted my kids –who, after all, were the ones tipping our humor scale — they insisted that a dog telling puns does not a dad joke make. You can’t simply tell a dad joke, they informed me, for this type of humor is very contextual. You must be a master of cleverness and creativity in order to deliver a proper dad joke; you must be alert and agile enough to pounce when someone says, “I really like this cake,” and immediately respond with, “I was talking to this cake the other day, and it really likes you, too!” Or, if someone suggests that you should have a standing reservation at a certain restaurant, you can nimbly observe, “Hey! I’m standing right now!” Moms are certainly capable of delivering dad jokes, which I know first-hand, because my most nagging childhood memory is that every time anyone in my household asked, “Can you make me a sandwich?” my mother replied, “Poof! You’re a sandwich!” These quips are somewhat punny and somewhat silly -- they are the type of retort that a “Feel like some eggs?” straight-line begs in reply. They are perfectly suited for 5-year-olds and prepubescent boys (who are, let’s face it, future daddies-in-training). I used to think I was alone in my misery until one of my kids told a story of a friend who was having dinner with his family. The boy’s mother observed that he was sounding a little hoarse, at which point his father stood up and neighed. My favorite part of this story is that they were all in a restaurant at the time. I’ve droned on long enough with this missive and I’m going to wrap this up. Besides, right now I feel like some lunch.

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Order the book at bestofthenest.net Follow Robin’s book-related appearances at robinconte.com.


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16 | Commentary

Local player goes from Brookhaven’s soccer fields to the Women’s World Cup

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Around Town

BY JOE EARLE Joeearle@reporternewspaper.com

Giselle Washington can’t remember a time in her life without soccer. The soft-spoken 17-year-old said she’s been playing the game since she “was about 3.” She’s tried other sports, but always came back to soccer. She felt a special connection to the game. “I love it,” Giselle said as she sat in her Brookhaven home one recent afternoon. “I just like everything about it. Honestly. I love team sports, just competing …” She paused for beat. “… and winning.” She learned her sport playing on Y teams and while working her way up through the ranks of Concorde Fire soccer teams. Her work paid off. Come summer, the long-limbed midfielder is scheduled to head to France to compete on a team battling for the Women’s World Cup. She’ll be playing on the Reggae Girlz, the women’s team from Jamaica, the country where her mother was born. Giselle, whose teammates call her “Gi,” was born and grew up in DeKalb County and has passports from both the U.S. and Jamaica. She’s one of the youngest players on the Jamaican team, which is set next summer to make its first appearance in the World Cup. “I’m so excited,” she said after returning in January from a week-long practice camp in Montego Bay, Jamaica. “I don’t think it’s hit me yet. It is crazy. I’m going to be in [the World Cup tournament] playing along with my idols.” Her coach on the elite team at Concorde Fire voices little surprise that his midfielder will be competing for a national team at the highest levels of her sport. James Harris said he’s coached Giselle for years. “She’s very good. She’s special,” he said. “She’s very calm… makes the right decisions. She reads the game very well.” Off the field, “she is wise and mature beyond her age,” he said. “Her leadership qualities on and off the field – you couldn’t anyone who ever would say a negative thing about her… She’s pretty remarkable – very quiet, calm. She just shows up and does her job.” While she’s competed for a slot on the Jamaican team, her Concorde Fire teammates

Joe Earle is editor-at-large at Reporter Newspapers and has lived in metro Atlanta for over 30 years. He can be reached at joeearle@reporternewspapers.net

have been cheering her on, Harris said. They followed her progress on social media, he said, and, at one point, streamed her game to watch it on the sidelines during their practice. Giselle is among about a dozen U.S. players listed on a recent 31-member Jamaican team roster. She said she was introduced to Jamaican soccer at age 14. A coach saw her playing in a U.S. tournament and, after discovering her family background, invited her to try out for the Jamaican program. She’s been taking part in soccer camps and competitions in the Caribbean since, she said. Playing there while keeping up with her Concorde Fire games and practices and her schoolwork proved difficult at times. “At one point, it was crazy,” said her mom, Sherrene Washington. “I told her I JOE EARLE should be her agent, the schedule was so crazy.” Gisselle Washington. Now it’s all good. “It’s exciting, unbelievable,” Sherrene Washington said. “We just so appreciative. We just never thought it would escalate to this level.” As a Reggae Girl, Giselle is getting to know her mother’s home country better. “It’s completely different from here,” she said. “The people are super sweet. The culture, the food is terrific. The general vibe…” The team “is just being energized by the whole culture,” she said. “It’s like a family.” In her own family in Brookhaven, she’s the oldest of four children. All take part in athletics. Her three younger siblings wear number 28, Giselle’s number. After the World Cup, Giselle plans to keep playing. She’s headed to the University of Tennessee next year, she said, and hopes to keep raising her game. After all, she feels that special connection to soccer. “I just find it fun,” she said. “I like watching it, playing it…” And, of course, winning.

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Community | 17


City responds to BCN tree ordinance concerns BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

The city is responding to the Buckhead Council of Neighborhood’s concerns that parts of the Tree Protection Ordinance are going unenforced, acknowledging some problems and urging public input in a rewriting process that is underway. On Jan. 10, the BCN voted to support a litany of complaints by an advocacy group called The Tree Next Door, which claims the city is not enforcing six specific sections of an ordinance intended to prevent the needless destruction of significant trees on private property. Elizabeth Johnson of the Department of City Planning countered some of those complaints, while acknowledging others, including a lack of quarterly reports and pre-construction conferences. She noted the city is in the midst of a rewrite of the tree ordinance as part of the “Urban Ecology Framework” planning process, which is expected to deliver a final report this year. “Citizen input is critical to the adoption of a successful ordinance,” she said. “As such, the Department of City Planning aims to include a great deal of public input and transparency moving into the rewrite of the Tree Protection Ordinance.” To get on the list for Urban Ecology Framework meeting announcements, email urbancology@peqatl.com. Johnson also said anyone with specific concerns can contact the Arborist Division at 404-330-6874 or arborist.dpcd@atlantaga.gov. The following are the specific complaints backed by BCN and Johnson’s response to them.

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Section 158-34(c): Metal tree fencing

Complaint: Heavy-duty tree protection fences on construction sites are not being used or are moved. Response: “Arborist Plan Reviewers and Field Arborists exercise the option to require enhanced tree protection fencing on sites where additional tree protection is needed, on a case-by-case basis.”

Section 158-63(4): Standards of practice

Complaint: Since 2011, the city appears to have no consistent standards of practice for such activities as assessing tree health, posting tree-removal signs, and keeping field books. Response: “Plan reviewers and field arborists have been trained to follow current procedure and standards; however, the Standards of Practice (SOPs), dated June 2009, need to be updated. These SOPs will be updated in the near future.”

Section 158-63(5): Tree master plan

Complaint: There is no master plan for the citywide tree canopy, such as a fully inventory and planting plan. Response: Johnson said the ordinance dictates that the Parks Department is in charge of that master plan, and the city Arborist Division will be “supportive” of it.

Section 158-101(e)(4): Notice of tree removals

Complaint: Tree-cutting approvals must be posted in the city arborist or parks offices, on the city website, and on the property; but the first two are not being done. Response: Johnson did not fully respond to the complaint, instead saying that tree-cutting approvals can be found in the online Accela permit database.

Section 158-103(f): Quarterly reports

Complaint: The city is no longer issuing quarterly reports on the amount of trees removed and the amount developers pay into a tree planting fund. Response: Johnson said the reports have not been produced due to the lack of a staff member who can code them into a newer city records software called Accela. An Accela administrator left in August and a replacement was scheduled to start in January. “Reporting for the Office of Buildings, including the Arborist, is a main priority for this individual,” she said.

Section 158-106: Preconstruction conference

Complaint: On-site conferences between developers and city arborists are not happening, sometimes allowing trees to be cut or damaged before review. Response: “We are implementing this practice based on available resources and staffing. Currently, pre-demolition inspections are required on every site. In addition, we have posted a job advertisement for a staff arborist to increase staff resources.” BH

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18 | Community

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Process confusion a roadblock to setting new transportation project lists Continued from page 1 While residents struggled to dig through such information, there was widespread – if not unanimous – praise for the city’s apologies for having to do it at all and its officials’ efforts to improve trust. The Renew Atlanta and TSPLOST programs were both approved by voters based on project lists, created by former Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration, that city leaders now acknowledge were unrealistic and lacking in priorities to deal with funding shortfalls. City Councilmember Matt Westmoreland and Joshua Williams, the city’s new deputy chief operations officer, were among those offering apologies to the crowd. “Quite frankly, you don’t trust us, and I don’t blame you,” Williams told one group of residents in a break-out session, drawing applause as he said one goal of the process was to rebuild that relationship. Members of the City Council were out in force, including Buckhead-area Councilmembers J.P. Matzigkeit and Howard Shook; Council President Felicia Moore; and Councilmembers Andre Dickens and Dustin Hillis. Mary Norwood, former city councilmember and current chair of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, also attended.

Problems and new priorities

The city is in bind as it tries to fulfill a promise to construct various transportation and infrastructure projects now estimated to cost more than $940 million with funding sources now estimated to total around $540 million. Two main programs are involved. Renew Atlanta is a bond approved by voters in 2015 that raised $250 million to go towards an estimated $1 billion backlog in repairs and upgrades to streets, public buildings and other infrastructure. TSPLOST is

a 0.4-percent special local option sales tax dedicated to transportation and transit projects. Approved by voters in 2016, the TSPLOST was projected to raise $380 million over five years, but which the city now believes will raise only $260 million partly due to bad calcuations. Other factors in the funding shortfalls include higher budgets and construction costs; projects that grew larger than originally planned; and additional projects added to the programs after “stakeholder” input. Both programs failed to list the projects in any kind of priority order, which is especially important in the current situation, when some of them must get the ax. The city is now trying to fix that situation by placing both programs’ projects onto a list by priorities, which means some may take longer than expected and others will be killed or must find other funding sources. Many projects were already built with the programs’ funding, including BeltLinerelated trails around Buckhead’s Atlanta Memorial Park, and any currently under construction will be completed. But all of the other transportation-related projects in the programs are getting a second look. Of the $540 million in estimated available funding, about $108.9 million is still available to be spent on those types of projects, officials said. At the Jan. 24 meeting, Michelle Wynn, Renew Atlanta’s interim general manager, outlined the city’s standards for setting the priority list. They include judging a project by: how closely it matches the Atlanta Transportation Plan’s principles of “safety, equity and mobility”; how close it is to being finished; its ability to get funding from other sources, such as the Buckhead CID; and public and “stakeholder” feedback. Based on those standards, the city is proposing three alternative priority lists or “scenarios,” intended to bump certain kinds of projects up the list based on different overall transportation goals. One

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list is “Complete Streets,” focused on projects that make streets friendly to all types of users, not just drivers. Another is “Foundational Investments,” focused on basics like repaving and traffic signal upgrades. A third list is “Max Leveraged Funding,” focused on major projects that are boosted by other funding sources; they include bridges, intersections, streetscape improvements and street widenings. Many projects would be fully funded in all three scenarios, including a “Complete Streets” program and widening on Piedmont Road. In some scenarios, certain

trust issues and noted the original programs were produced by public meetings as well. A few expressed concerns that the decisions were already made or would be done privately by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms or other officials. “Am I correct that the ultimate selection of projects [is] the mayor’s decision?” asked NPU-A chair Brink Dickerson, one of the skeptical residents. Williams said that no official will make a unilateral decision and that the final proposed priority list will be reviewed by the mayor, the City Council and the general


Joshua Williams, Atlanta’s deputy chief operations officer, speaks to the large crowd at the Renew Atlanta/TSPLOST project meeting Jan. 14 at Sutton Middle School.

projects would be funded for design but not construction, or not funded at all.

Confusion and comments

The cumbersome names of the three alternative “scenarios” were among the sources of widespread confusion about the complex, jargon-heavy public input process, materials and terminology. The project lists and the scenarios themselves can change based on public input, but many residents said they were struggling to understand the presentation as it was. Many residents were interested in specific projects that they said were hard to locate on a main spreadsheet-style list, while a summary of each scenario provided only an abbreviated list of “highlighted” projects. The crowd was broken up into five groups meeting in separate rooms. There, residents attempted to digest the project lists and unfamiliar terms while stickervoting on the three scenarios and writing on notecards that could contain a list of favorite projects, general questions and comments, or all of the above. “Nobody’s going over what we’re losing,” Peachtree Hills resident Laura Dobson said of the project lists. “I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I don’t even know where the shoe is.” Williams, the deputy COO, apologized to some residents for the complexity. He said the sticker-voting on scenarios was intended to provide a “value statement” about overall visions rather than a formal poll on project lists. He said he understood that many residents preferred to understand the “granular” detail of individual projects before taking a position on any scenario. While a number of residents praised the ability to weigh in, some also still had

public. “The mayor is not going to say, ‘Joshua, this is the final list and [I] could care less what the public says,’” Williams said.

Buckhead projects on the early cutting lists

Buckhead-area projects recommended for partial or no funding include the following. Funded in some scenarios: Buckhead CID Americans with Disabilities Act sidewalk repairs; Buckhead Village sidewalks; Lindbergh Way resurfacing; Moores Mill Road/West Wesley Road intersection; Road/Phipps Boulevard roundabout. (Two related Moores Mill/West Wesley projects are on the list in different places, with one “capacity” project shown as not funded in any scenario, and one “traffic signals and school zone beacons” project shown as funded in two scenarios, “Complete Streets” and “Foundational Investments.” According to Councilmember Matzigkeit’s office, despite appearing separately on the list, they are both considered one project, which is the one that would be funded under the two scenarios.) Not funded in any scenario: Blue Heron Blueway Trail; Buckhead Smart Corridor Lighting; Roswell Road scoping and engineering studies; Chastain Park area pedestrian and safety improvements; Howell Mill Road/Collier Road traffic beacon project; Moores Mill Road/Howell Mill Road intersection and traffic beacon projects; Peachtree Street/Road “Complete Streets”; South Fork Conservancy/PATH400 Confluence Bridge; West Wieuca Road/Roswell Road intersection improvements. BH


Community | 19


Gov. Kemp pledges to work with Atlanta, crack down on Buckhead crime Continued from page 1 ing progress in making that a reality.” The Buckhead Coalition is an influential, invitation-only group of 100 area CEOs and community leaders led by former Mayor Sam Massell, which is celebrating its 30th annivesary. Its annual luncheon, held at the 103 West event facility on West Paces Ferry Road, is also invitation-only. Many other elected officials attended the event, including City Council President Felicia Moore and Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen. “I know 30 years of good work is a major accomplishment for the Buckhead Coalition,” said Kemp, calling it “probably one of the most distinguished groups I’ve ever spoken to.” Kemp steered clear of some of his campaign themes that roiled Atlanta’s business community, such as his pledge to pass a religious freedom law that critics say could enable discrimination against LGBT customers and social-services clients. Instead, he largely touted his proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposals and some executive orders he already signed. He drew applause for his proposal to permanently raise teachers’ pay by $2,000 and possibly by $5,000. He also got some applause for decrying sexual harassment while referring to an executive order he signed that calls for reforming the state’s

own internal reporting system. He said that as a husband and as a father of daughters, he believes “no one should go to work worried whether they’re going to be a target of sexual harassment.” Kemp spoke about rural Georgia’s general need for economic development, and especially for recovery from farms and other businesses devastated last year by Hurricane Michael. His administration is working on a “Georgia grown” program to advocate purchasing locally produced goods, which is being instituted at the Governor’s Mansion. In pitching his plan to combat drugdealing gangs, Kemp referred to Buckhead’s spike in robberies and burglaries that police and prosecutors have said is largely gang-related. “I know you’re seeing it even in areas right here in Buckhead,” Kemp said. “We’re going to go after street gangs and drug cartels.” Bottoms also addressed crime, but did not refer to Buckhead specifically. She said that the overall crime rate citywide is down 2 percent and that with a “historic” police pay increase taking effect, she believes “we will continue to see this [crime rate] continue to fall.” Mary Norwood, Bottoms’ former mayoral rival and current chair of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, issued a

letter the day before the meeting decrying the local crime rates and asking the mayor to hold public meetings about it. Bottoms made no reference to that request. The luncheon’s invocation was delivered by Rev. Sam Candler, dean of the Epis-

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copal Cathedral of St. Philip’s in Buckhead, who prayed for the politically themed event with a reference to the state’s motto. “Bless the state’s commitment to wisdom, justice and moderation,” he said.

Gov. Brian Kemp speaks to the Buckhead Coalition Jan. 30.

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20 | Community

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Falcons CEO aims for better Super Bowl, stadium legacies BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net


Rich McKay, president and CEO of the Atlanta Falcons, makes a point while speaking to the Buckhead Business Association Jan. 15. Shown on the screen behind him is Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the home venue for the Falcons and the Atlanta United soccer club, and the host of the Feb. 3 Super Bowl.

The Feb. 3 Super Bowl and the Mercedes-Benz Stadium built in part to host it are intended leave better legacies than earlier games and venues, Atlanta Falcons president and CEO Rich McKay told the Buckhead Business Association at its annual luncheon. “Stadiums are not the difference-maker,” but larger conversations created by their development can be for such communities as Vine City and English Avenue, McKay said in his keynote speech at the Jan. 15 event at the Westin Buckhead Atlanta hotel. In light remarks, McKay also joked about some of the foibles of the stadium and Super Bowl hosting, and discussed the standout season of the Atlanta United soccer club, as well as the not-so-successful Falcons. “It’s a really cool vibe,” he said of the United, who won this year’s MLS Cup championship after playing to sellout crowds in the stadium. “Let’s talk about your Falcons, 7 and 9— umm, disappointing,” he said of the National Football League team he supervises. He said the team’s crushing overtime loss to New England in the 2017 Super Bowl was tough, and that while every team says it will bounce back the next season, “You can’t lose a game the way we lost it and come back.” But he praised Coach Dan Quinn and quarterback Matt Ryan. While the Falcons won’t be playing in the hometown-hosted Super Bowl this year, McKay is helping to lead the event as a board member of its host committee. McKay acknowledged that Super Bowls often make big promise but leave dubious legacies for host cities. “Every year, they do the same thing,” he said, describing the construction some type of community center for which there is no further support. “You come back in five RICH MCKAY PRESIDENT AND CEO years, you wouldn’t like what you saw.” For this Super Bowl, he said, the commit- ATLANTA FALCONS tee wanted “a bunch of projects, and they’re real.” They include a major renovation of the city’s John F. Kennedy Park, and the commissioning of public-art murals, some of which, he said with a sense of relish, “will be a little controversial.” Among the artists is Brookhaven’s Yehimi Cambron, whose work addresses civil rights and undocumented immigrants. The Falcons took a similar approach to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which opened in 2017. It replaced the Georgia Dome, which hosted the 1994 and 2000 Super Bowls, but did little to help the struggling neighborhoods it loomed over. One solution tied to the new stadium is Westside Works, an employment and job training organization formed by Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s family foundation and various public and private partners. McKay acknowledged that Westside Works had some organizing struggles and that it has an ongoing challenge in qualifying applicants. But, he said, since 2014 it had graduated 650 people who collectively have earned $19 million in wages. Many of them now work full-time at the stadium, including the venue’s first hire, he said. As a business operation, the new stadiums has its hits and misses, McKay noted lightly. Referring to lengthy problems in getting a complex retractable roof to open, he gave the joking architectural advice, “When you think moving pieces, think two, not eight.” A success, he said, has been improving the quality of the stadium food while slashing its price. The stadium is now number one among NFL teams in food sales revenue despite cutting prices by 60 percent, he said, in a model followed by a growing number of other venues. “We’re trying to get away from the idea that just because you have a captive audience, you can quadruple the price,” he said. McKay chairs the NFL’s Competition Committee, which sets the league’s rules. One big challenge the committee deals with is helmet safety and reduction of concussions. McKay said he believes the league is on track for the adoption of safer helmets. In youth sports, he said, the NFL is suggesting alternatives to tackle football. At the local level, that includes a recently launched girls flag football program in Gwinnett County.

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Community | 21


New Oglethorpe business school dean aims to make ‘robot-proof’ leaders BY DOUG CARROLL The dean of the new business school at Brookhaven’s Oglethorpe University says the time is right for a set of new academic programs to equip students for a future that will be increasingly technological and global. Dennis W. Kelly came on board last October as dean of the Q. William Hammack School of Business, returning to metro Atlanta after an eight-year stint in Washington, D.C., with the Smithsonian Institution. A $50 million gift — the largest in Oglethorpe’s history — from Hammack, an alumnus and former CEO of C.W. Matthews Contracting Co., has made it possible for the 183-year-old liberal-arts university at 4484 Peachtree Road to elevate its business department to school status. “A lot of small, liberal-arts colleges in the Northeast and Midwest won’t make it,” Kelly told a breakfast meeting of the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 17. “But Oglethorpe is strong, and it’s willing to change and adapt.” The business school, scheduled to open in the fall, will roll out a strategic plan in the late spring or early summer, Kelly said. It will be part of the undergraduate program and may offer certificate programs, but has no plans to offer master’s degrees. Kelly said Oglethorpe expects to grow its business-program numbers from slightly more than 300 students currently to as many as 600, creating courses in marketing and finance to go with established strengths in accounting and economics. An emphasis on experiential learning, through student internships, also will be a priority, Kelly said, adding that Oglethorpe’s move nearly 65 years ago to a core curriculum for all students already provides an edge in the workplace. “We think that makes our students different, better and special,” he said. “Bill Hammack thinks the combination of the core curriculum [and new programs] will make our next generation of leaders robot-proof. “A liberal arts education will be the key to doing things that robots can’t do.” According to Kelly, about 60 percent of current jobs will be either eliminated or impacted by machine learning and artificial intelligence. For example, 4 million jobs for checkout clerks will dwindle to 500,000 over the next 10 years, he said. In some fields, the U.S. has serious catching-up to do: China graduates 1 million engineers a year, he said, compared to 75,000 in the U.S. With this brave new world as a backdrop, students will need at least some familiarity with coding and business analytics, Kelly said, even if they don’t end up working in those areas specifically. Forty percent of Oglethorpe’s 1,250 students are first-generation college students, Kelly said, which presents challenges in getting some of them up to speed. Asked about trends that the university is seeing, he identified three. “We’re seeing that writing skills have declined across the board,” he said. “We’re also seeing that the demand for analytics has gone up — big data is a new skill that’s in demand. And there is a big disparity between those who are well-prepared [for college work] and those who are not.” Oglethorpe’s Compass academic advising program, begun in 2017, has helped the

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Dennis Kelly, dean of Oglethorpe University’s Hammack School of Business, speaks to the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce Jan. 17.

university achieve its highest retention rate in 10 years, according to assistant provost Beth Concepcion. Its March to May mentoring program also has been beneficial, she said, and she encouraged chamber members to become part of it. Kelly served for seven years as president and CEO of Zoo Atlanta before moving on to the Smithsonian, where he was director of the National Zoological Park and Conservation Biology Institute. Previously, he was president and CEO of Green Mountain Energy Co. and held administrative positions with Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble. He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech and an MBA from Harvard. Kelly said he and his wife, Debbie, barely recognize Brookhaven this time around. “We’re stunned by the enormous changes we’ve seen,” he said. “When we drive around, it’s amazing. You see all the residential developments, and it’s hard to find contractors because there’s so much going on.” Alan Goodman, president of the Brookhaven chamber, said the new business school at Oglethorpe can only be a plus. “It’s a super step for the city to have a business school right here,” Goodman said.

22 | Art & Entertainment

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Friday, Feb. 8 through Sunday, Feb 24 Act3 Productions presents Tony Award-winning “Peter and the Starcatcher,” which upends the century-old story of how a miserable orphan becomes “The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up” (a.k.a. Peter Pan). With a dozen actors portraying more than 100 characters, it playfully explores the depths of greed and despair and the bonds of friendship, duty and love. 6285-R Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. $15-$30. Info: act3productions.org or 770-241-1905



The world of Dr. Seuss springs to life in this production from Galloway Junior Theatre Company. Transporting audiences from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus, the Cat in the Hat narrates the story of Horton the Elephant, who discovers a speck of dust containing tiny people called the Whos that he must protect. Chaddick Center for the Arts at The Galloway School 215 W. Wieuca Road, Buckhead. $10 general, $5 student. Info: gallowayschool.org


March 7-17 Now in its 10th season, the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival (AJMF) takes on the theme of “Jewish Contributions to Music” and will specifically nod to Jewish contributions to American music with a specially curated lineup featuring Grammy winning artists, up and coming bands, historian presentations and a salute to both Leonard Bernstein and the Academy Awards. Various venues around metro Atlanta. Info and line up: atlantajmf.org


Thursday, Feb. 21 through Saturday Feb. 23

Wednesday Feb. 13, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 24, 7 p.m. Two author talk and book signing events feature bestselling author Elinor Lipman of “Good Riddance” on Feb. 13 in conversation with Emily Giffin, New York Times bestselling author. The second event on Feb. 24 includes New York Times bestselling authors Alyson Richman of “The Secret Clouds” & Pam Jenoff, author of “Lost Girls in Paris” and will be in conversation with Zoe Fishman, New York Times bestselling author. MJCCA, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Tickets to each event: Community $15/Member $10. Info: atlantajcc. org/bookfestival or 678-812-4002.


Wednesday, March 6, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Titles @ Twilight promotes local authors

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Sunday, Feb. 17, 10:30 a.m., 12 p.m., 4 p.m. Through dance, movement, music and bilingual storytelling, young children will engage in this classic folk tale in wholly imaginative and new ways. A family production presented by the Alliance Theatre’s Kathy & Ken Bernhardt Theatre for the Very Young. Tickets: $12-$16. MJCCA’s Morris & Rae Frank Theatre, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Info: atlantajcc.org/boxoffice or 678-812-4002.


Monday, Feb. 18, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Kids ages 4-14 can practice their favorite strokes with Up4Tennis while classes are cancelled for President’s Day. Outshine Sports also offers a day of sports camp that will emphasize team building and exercise. $25-$72 for half and full days. Ashford Park, 2980 Redding Road, Brookhaven. Tennis Info: up4tennis.com or 404-617-1305; Sports Info: outshinesports.com or 470-601-1415.


Student and Instructor Jewelry Market Sunday, Feb. 10, 11 a.m- 5 p.m. This fundraising event benefits the Spruill Center for the Arts and the Spruill Metals Jewelry Program and will showcase beginning to professional jewelry artists who will sell their unique handcrafted jewelry to the public. Free. Spruill Center for the Arts. 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: spruillarts.org


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whose stories of history and the South represent a variety of perspectives. This month, author Deborah Mantella visits to discuss “My Sweet Vidalia,” a tale of 1955 rural Georgia and the spirit of an unborn child who stays with her mother through the darkest of circumstances. Free. Heritage Sandy Springs Community Room, 6110 Blue Stone Road, Sandy Springs. Info: heritagesandysprings.org.

3867 Roswell Rd NE, Atlanta, GA, 30342 (1/2 mile north of Piedmont, across from Superica, formerly Perimeter Clinic Buckhead)

678-904-5611 www.allcarefamilymed.com Hours: Mon-Fri 9am - 7pm, Sat 10am - 5pm

Saturday, March 2, 9 a.m-12 p.m. Find the best deals and sell your unwanted items at the Brookhaven Parks and Recreation Department’s annual Community Yard Sale. The event is free to attend. Tables to sell items will be available for $20 for an 8-foot table and $30 for two tables. Briarwood Park Recreation Center, 2235 Briarwood Way, Brookhaven. To reserve a table: Call 404-6370512 or email Philip Mitchell at Philip.Mitchell@BrookhavenGA.gov.


Saturday, Feb. 9, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Learn about the white-tailed deer in Georgia, with tips on how to keep them from destroying expensive landscaping? Free. Lost Corner Preserve, 7300 Brandon Mill


Art & Entertainment | 23


Road, Sandy Springs. Register: registration. sandyspringsga.gov


Monday, Feb. 18, 7-8:30 pm The Recreation and Parks Department and Friends of the Lost Corner host the North Fulton Master Gardeners series of classes for homeowners on selected weekday evenings. This first class will cover: how cool and warmseason grasses differ and what they require: soil testing, fertilizing, weed control and aerating. Lost Corner Preserve Cottage, 7300 Brandon Mill Road, Sandy Springs. $10 each or $60 for the 8 week entire series. Register: http://www.friendsoflostcorner.org.

BSA Troop 370 hosts a special recycling event for the community. No charges for most electronics but recycling for paint cans range from $1 for a pint to $20 for latex-based fivegallon bucket. To see what is accepted, visit novussolutionsllc.com/recycling. St. James United Methodist Church, 4400 PeachtreeDunwoody Road, Buckhead. Info: Leslee at evansclans@bellsouth.net.



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Wednesday, Feb. 13, 9:30 a.m. Dunwoody Garden Club hosts guest speaker Gloria Ward, past president of the American Hydrangea Society. Come hear all about these ever popular flowering shrubs and be prepared to learn about some exciting new varieties that are available today. North DeKalb Cultural Center (Room 4) at 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: dunwoodygardenclub.com.

Health care for women by women

Sunday, Feb 24, 1-4 p.m. Come help the Chattahoochee Nature Center restore the wetlands. Work to remove invasive Chinese privet and other non-natives in and around the wetlands in order to encourage native plant restoration. Registration required. Ages 5-adult. $6 for Children; $10 Adult; $7 Seniors 65+; $7 students 13-18; free CNC Members. Chattahoochee Nature Center, 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell. Info: volunteer@chattnaturecenter.org or 770-992-2055 x237.

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24 |

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Register your artists for a weeklong art camp at the High. We offer camp options for grades 1 through 8. Campers will explore the collection, sketch in the galleries, and create artwork.

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Chastain Horse Park - convenient Buckhead location! Boys and girls ages 4-8 – Mon-Fri 8am-1pm Many weeks to choose from during Summer 2019 Camp activities for our younger riders include horsemanship instruction (grooming, safety and more), riding lessons, crafts and games! Contact us at (404) 252-4244 ext.1001 or camps@chastainhorsepark.org. More information regarding summer schedule dates and registration form can be found at chastainhorsepark.org, select Riding Services, then select Summer Camp!

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| 25


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26 |

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ACTIVITIES Horseback Riding Swimming (Heated Pool) Ropes Course Climbing Tower Tennis Canoeing Golf Gymnastics Dance Cheerleading Flag Twirling Archery Arts and Cras Knitting Chorus and Drama Outdoor Living Skills Basketball Volleyball Soccer Riflery Trip Day River Water Blob Campfire every night Counselor-In-Training Christian Leadership

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has an extensive Frequently Asked Questions section for first-time camper families and several enjoyable videos!


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Education | 27

FEBRUARY 2019 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net


Student author Ruby Mundell, Davis Academy


Editor’s Note: Through our “Standout Student” series, Reporter Newspapers showcases some of the outstanding students at our local schools. To recommend a “Standout Student” for our series, please email editor@ReporterNewspapers.net with information about the student and why you think he or she should be featured.

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Ruby Mundell started off her fifth-grade school year by publishing her own book. Mundell, a student at The Davis Academy in Sandy Springs, had spent a year writing and editing the book, titled “Kindness Come In.” Ruby wrote the book to help cope with the loss of her father at a young age, a diagnosis of dyslexia and social challenges. The book includes tips for both adults and children facing difficult times, illustrations and personal stories. Ruby said writing has become an avenue for her to express her feelings and find relief from some of her own hardships. Ruby said that she wrote it with the intention of “helping others through their hard times, by telling them my experiences and how I went through them.” Ruby had help from her mother, who also had been writing a book, and Davis Academy Vice Principal Jeff Rothstein. Rothstein said Ruby is “an excellent student and diligent writer, with a humble air about her.” Just like most kids her age, she enjoys art and playing with her friends at school, but she also developed a particular passion for writing. “It helped me to calm myself when I was going through challenging times,” she said. The book provides advice on practicing compassion, consideration, thoughtfulness, selfexpression and forgiveness. Her goal for her readers “is that they can become a better person, feel better about themselves, and understand people better” after reading her book, Ruby wrote in an author’s note. The book is composed of a series of narratives from Ruby and her friends and families own personal experiences with bullying and how on ought to approach those scenarios. She said she used her experiences with grief and loss to help readers with their own traumas. Just as the book became a source of comfort and enjoyment for her, she hopes that it can provide some direct healing and aid to those going through similar circumstances. She said enjoyed the writing process, despite the year-long timeframe, as it gave her a way to make peace with the difficulties she had gone through. Ruby hosted a launch party for “Kindness Come In” last year, where Davis Academy members and other members of the local Atlanta community came to celebrate her accomplishment. The book was also featured in the Marcus Jewish Community Center Book Fair.

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Ruby Mundell, a fifth-grade student at The Davis Academy in Dunwoody, published her own book.

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28 | Education

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Julia Bernath, who represents Sandy Springs, was elected the vice president of the Fulton School Board at its Jan. 8 meeting. “I am happy to serve and delighted to continue in public service as our board’s vice president,” Bernath said in a press release. “Thank you for your confidence in me.” Linda Bryant, who represents south Fulton, was elected president, the release said. Bernath, who represents District 7 and just began her fifth term, represents portions of Sandy Springs, as well as Roswell, Johns Creek and Alpharetta. The vice president serves a one-year term, according to the release. She previously served as school board president from 2007 to 2009 and as vice president from 2009 to 2010, according to the release.


Julia Bernath represents District 7 on the Fulton School Board.


TAP into Davis Choosing the right school for your child is among the most important decisions you will ever make. Many times, it can seem overwhelming and financially out of reach. Let us help simplify the process. We can make The Davis Academy accessible for your family through our TUITION AND TRANSPORTATION ACCESSIBILITY PROGRAMS.

School safety legislation has already been filed based on recommendations from a study committee several local lawmakers served on last year. “The School Safety Study Committee was one of – if not the most – impactful and important study committees that I have been a part of,” state Sen. John Albers, a Republican who represents part of Sandy Springs and who chaired the study committee, said in a press release. “The issues discussed and testimonies heard were not just a way of procedure, rather, words that were turned into action through the pieces of legislation filed.” One piece of legislation proposes a state constitutional amendment to allow ESPLOST funds to be allocated towards the security of schools, including additional staffing, such as specialized mental health counselors. Another is titled the “Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act” which would address offenses for minors in possession of a firearm; require school safety plans, including performing threat assessments, drills and education prevention and reporting; and establish a task force to prevent, discover and respond to any threats to public or private schools.



A $3,500 Little Learners Grant is now available for ALL Mechina: Kindergarten Prep AND Kindergarten students admitted for the 2019-2020 school year.


Tuition reduction grants and flexible payment options are available to help families manage tuition expenses.


Carpool facilitation and a free pilot bus transportation program are available. Exploring central routes to service families in Alpharetta/ Johns Creek, Brookhaven, Buckhead/Chastain, East Roswell, and Dunwoody.

Call Lisa Mirsky, Director of Admissions, at 678-527-3300 to learn more!


Living Our Values. Every Day. 8105 Roberts Drive, Atlanta, GA 30350 770-671-0085 | davisacademy.org


The Holy Spirit Preparatory School’s swim team, from left to right, Luke Oliver, Adam Marshall, Jacob Wilhelm, Conner McKittrick, Jackson Lehmann, Hector Padilla, Gavin Marshall, Will Stinnett and Luke Farris. Standing in the front, from left to right, are Coach Star Brackin holding the trophy and William Arnold.

Holy Spirit Preparatory School’s varsity boys swim team took first place at the Jan. 26 Georgia Independent School Association’s competition, defending their 2018 state championship title. “We couldn’t have done it without the whole team,” senior Conner McKittrick said in the press release. The team, coached by Star Brackin, included William Arnold, Luke Farris, Jackson Lehmann, Adam Marshall, Gavin Marshall, Conner McKittrick, Luke Oliver, Hector Padilla, Will Stinnett and Jacob Wilhelm, according to the release.


Sandy Springs’ Temple Sinai Preschool announced registration is open for next year and the school will reopen with renovated classrooms and outdoor spaces in August. The school will have a brand new playground and modular, flexible furniture and equipment to allow for different learning styles, the school said. Programs are available for children 12 months old through Pre-K. For more information or to register a child for Temple Sinai Preschool, visit www.templesinaipreschool. org or contact Maman at 404-255-6200.


Classifieds | 29


Personal & Professional Services Directory

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MARK ELLIOTT Legal representation when disputes arise from the estate plan or within the estate ■ Will, Trust, or Power of Attorney Challenges ■ Breach of Fiduciary Duty of Trustees, Executors and others ■ Litigation of the Probate Estate ■ Disputes among Heirs ■ Other related litigation as necessitated by party misconduct

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Home Services Directory

Reporter Classifieds HELP WANTED Controller (MD18) - Master in Accounting, 2 yrs’ experience in accounting/auditing, profic. in US GAAP, GAAS and a CPA license. Mail CV: HR, Express Food & Pharmacy LLC, 50 Upper Alabama St., #92, Atlanta, GA 30303 Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber Hiring Event Coordinator/ Administrative Assistant. Oversight of all Chamber Events. Plans and executes all aspects of events. Weekly/ Monthly Newsletters/ Graphics. Administrative Duties include: Welcome Receptionist/ Phones, Onboarding of new members, Manage Database (ChamberMaster) and various Admin responsibilities. Send resume to: jenny@sandysprings.org.

SERVICES AVAILABLE Property Home Tending – Regular inspections of your For Sale or unoccupied home. Call Charles 404-229-0490. Driveways & Walkways – Replaced or repaired. Masonry, grading, foundations repair, waterproofing and retaining walls. Call Joe Sullivan 770-616-0576.

Graphic Designer (part-time)—Springs Publishing seeks an experienced graphic designer for a part-time position (approx. 15 hours per week) to work on print and digital products, especially ad design and page layout. You should be proficient with Adobe Creative Suite, specifically InDesign and Photoshop. Knowledge of web design (using WordPress), videography and social media is a plus. You must be available to work in our office on specific weekdays; with some flexible hours and remote work possible. Please provide your resume and samples of your work (via links, etc.) to publisher@reporternewspapers.net.

CEMETERY PLOTS Arlington Memorial Park – Available in Lakeside Section, two side by side plots near lake. Offered at $4,950 for each plot (50% below cemetery price). Lot 118C – Spaces 1 & 2. Contact owner: 770-490-1857.

CARE GIVER ‘CNA Available – Flexible & dependable with references. Minimal four hours per client. Personal care for loved ones. 404-397-9429

To Advertise, call 404-917-2200 ext 110

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30 | Public Safety

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BCN chair Norwood calls on mayor to hold Buckhead crime meetings BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

Mary Norwood, the chair of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, is calling on Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to hold community meetings about crime in a Jan. 28 letter that also questions the accuracy of published Atlanta Police Department statistics. The Mayor’s Office did not respond to a request for comment. Norwood, who lost the bitter 2017 mayoral race to Bottoms, was elected BCN chair this month and pledged a more advocacy-oriented role for the coalition of neighborhood associations. She wrote the letter, which she posted to social media, in her role as BCN chair. “I regular receive heart-wrenching stories, from homeowners whose lives have been threatened during armed burglaries to business owners whose livelihoods are at risk,” Norwood wrote in the letter, which was copied to the Atlanta City Council. The letter requests APD’s “plan to address this crisis; numbers of officers assigned to each of the city’s patrol zones and how they match crime rates; and details on recruiting and hiring patrol officers. “Finally, Mayor Bottoms, will you please host some public meetings in Buckhead to

I regular receive heart-wrenching stories, from homeowners whose lives have been threatened during armed burglaries to business owners whose livelihoods are at risk. MARY NORWOOD CHAIRPERSON BUCKHEAD COUNCIL OF NEIGHBORHOODS


address this crisis and answer questions from our concerned citizens?” the letter asks. Norwood’s letter also questions the APD crime stats frequently circulated by police officials at neighborhood meetings. The letter says “those broad numbers do not appear to correspond with the overwhelming anecdotal evidence shared by everyday citizens.” Atlanta Police Maj. Barry Shaw, the commander of Buckhead’s Zone 2, spoke at the January BCN meeting where Norwood was elected as chair. Several residents shared stories about violent crimes and what more APD can Mary Norwood do. Shaw said that hiring more officers would help and that Buckhead is especially attractive to criminals, with more showing up to replace those arrested at unusually fast rates. However, Shaw also talked about some solutions, including a significant policy pay raise and a process to change police zone boundaries, which would make Zone 2 almost entirely Buckhead-based instead of having some outlying areas around northwest Atlanta and the Cheshire Bridge Road area. APD did not respond to questions about the zone redrawing. Norwood said she wrote the letter both because of general comments from residents and because of concerns expressed by the BCN’s new “interest area groups,” committeelike bodies that she formed as a new structure for the organization to vet certain issues and propose advocacy.


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Public Safety | 31


Police Blotter / Buckhead The following information, involving events that took place in Buckhead Jan. 1 through Jan. 17 was provided to the Buckhead Reporter by the Zone 2 precinct of the Atlanta Police Department from its open data records.

200 block of Colonial Homes Drive —

Jan. 2

2100 block of Piedmont Road — Jan. 2 1600 block of Northside Drive — Jan. 2

Jan. 3

4100 block of Roswell Road — Jan. 15

2000 block of Main Street — Jan. 5

3500 block of Roswell Road — Jan. 15

2700 block of Peachtree Park Drive —


Jan. 5

1500 block of Northside

Drive — Jan. 4 2100 block of Mon-

700 block of Bellemeade Avenue — Jan. 8 200 block of Colonial Homes Drive — Jan. 10

roe Drive — Jan. 7 900 block of Can-

terbury Road — Jan. 9

2500 block of Piedmont Road — Jan. 10

3300 block of Ro-

swell Road — Jan. 10

700 block of Montana Road — Jan. 10

1100 block of Woodland


Jan. 1 2500 block of Piedmont Road — Jan. 4 2600 block of Piedmont Road — Jan. 5


2400 block of Coronet Way — Jan. 6

1700 block of Howell Mill Road — Jan. 2

2700 block of DeFoors Ferry Road — Jan.


1800 block of Peachtree Road — Jan. 2

1800 block of Howell Mill Road — Jan. 14

2300 block of Piedmont Road — an. 9


3400 block of Lenox Road — Jan. 10

Between Jan. 1 and Jan. 17, there were 166

3000 block of Peachtree Road — Jan. 10

larcenies from vehicles reported across Zone 2 and 67 reported cases of larceny and shoplifting.

400 block of Bishop Street — Jan. 10

2400 block of Cheshire Bridge Road —

2000 block of Peachtree Road — Jan. 10

3400 block of Alexander Road — Jan. 13

3400 block of Peachtree Road — Jan. 5

3500 block of Northside Parkway — Jan.

1100 block of Huff Road — Jan. 10

Jan. 11

400 block of Armour Drive — Jan. 2

2400 block of Cheshire Bridge Road —

200 block of Colonial Homes Drive — Jan. 10

500 block of Pharr Road — Jan. 11


1700 block of Peachtree Street — Jan. 2

Avenue — Jan. 10

2100 block of Piedmont Road — Jan. 15

2200 block of Melante Drive — Jan. 14

1300 block of Peachtree Battle Avenue —


3400 block of Alexander Road — Jan. 13

AUTO THEFT Between Jan. 1 and Jan. 17, there were 34

reported incidents of auto theft.

400 block of Bishop Street — Jan. 11 1000 block of Lindbergh Drive — Jan. 15

Call 404- 497-1020 for an appointment.

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| 32


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