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MARCH 2023 | 3 ROUGHDRAFTATLANTA.COM 24 AS SEEN IN PRINT Use this QR code to read extended versions of stories found in this issue. Presented by Editorial Collin Kelley Editor Sammie Purcell Associate Editor Staff Writers Dyana Bagby Bob Pepalis Contributors Sally Bethea, Cathy Cobbs, Maija Ehlinger, Joe Earle, Alex Ewalt, Isadora Pennington, Logan C. Ritchie CONTENTS MARCH 2023 ©2023 with all rights reserved Publisher reserves the right to refuse editorial or advertising for any reason. Publisher assumes no responsibility for information contained in advertising. Any opinions expressed in print or online do not necessarily represent the views of Reporter Newspapers or Rough Draft Atlanta. Honored as a newspaper of General Excellence 2018 ABOUT THE COVER Angela Simon gives a pickleball lesson at Hammond Park in Sandy Springs. (Photo by Isadora Pennington) BUCKHEAD Buckhead City Update 4 Clifton Corridor 5 BROOKHAVEN Lynwood Park Retail 6 New City Hall 7 DUNWOODY Antisemitic Fliers 8 Mail Theft Arrest 9 SANDY SPRINGS New Police HQ 10 Phoenix Gymnastics Lease 12 COVER Pickleball Champ Angela Simon 14 Pickleball at Hammond Park 16 Pickleball Communities 17 SUSTAINABILITY Above the Waterline 20 ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Author Loren Brereton 22 Tara Theatre Returns 23 DINING Destination Dunwoody 24 Phipps Food Hall 26 High Street 26 BUSINESS Google Fiber in Brookhaven 28 Health Startup 34 REAL ESTATE Pharr Road Tower 35 City Springs Expansion 35 atlanta Reporter Newspapers Atlanta Intown A Publication Silver Streak By Advertising For information (404) 917-2200 email@example.com Deborah Davis Account Manager | Sales Operations firstname.lastname@example.org Jeff Kremer Sr. Account Manager email@example.com Suzanne Purcell Sr. Account Manager firstname.lastname@example.org Published By Rough Draft Atlanta Keith Pepper Publisher email@example.com Neal Maziar Chief Revenue Officer firstname.lastname@example.org Rico Figliolini Creative Director Steve Levene Founder Circulation 58,000 copies of Reporter Newspapers are delivered to homes in ZIP codes 30305, 30319, 30326, 30327, 30328, 30338, 30342 and 30350 and to businesses/retail locations. To subscribe to home delivery, ($75 / year) email email@example.com 23 22
By Dyana Bagby
Republican state lawmakers prodded by Bill White and the Buckhead City Committee are again trying to push through legislation to carve out the affluent and mostly white northern community from the city of Atlanta.
Last year’s efforts to pass legislation to give Buckhead residents a vote to secede from Atlanta were blocked by then House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) and former Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R-Cumming). They wanted to give Mayor Andre Dickens time during his first term to address crime.
But White, the controversial leader of the BCC, said the fight for Buckhead City would not stop. He continues to push crime as the main motive for the wealthy enclave to secede from the city of Atlanta. Dickens said recently he didn’t believe Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and House Speaker Jon Burns would back a Buckhead City bill this session. Jones supported Buckhead cityhood as a state senator but has backed off that stance in his new role.
On Feb. 16, the Senate State & Local Governmental Operations committee (SLOGO) heard testimony on Senate Bill 114, one of two Buckhead cityhood bills. Senate Bill 113 is the other Buckhead cityhood bill. The lead sponsor of both bills is Sen. Randy Robertson, a Republican from rural Cataula in South Georgia. The co-sponsors are also not from Atlanta.
The bill faces stiff opposition from Buckhead’s influential business community and groups such as the Buckhead Coalition and Buckhead Community Improvement District who favor working with the city to resolve issues such as crime, city services and zoning. Atlanta Public Schools is also against Buckhead cityhood.
“I’m not here today to talk about crime. I’m not here today to talk about potholes. I’m not here today to discuss zoning. Nor am I here today to talk about disgruntled citizens as related to the city of Atlanta,” Robertson said at the committee hearing. He was the only person to speak in favor of the bill.
SLOG Chair Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville) asked Robertson why sponsors of the bills were not from Buckhead or from the city of Atlanta.
Robertson said he doesn’t believe state lawmakers are relegated to legislate only the districts they represent. Incorporating cities is something that dates back to the 1950s in Georgia, he said. De-annexing a portion of a city is no different than incorporating a
city from a rural county, he added.
“The fact is that there are a group of citizens who are asking to have their voice heard, period,” Robertson said. He also said the issue is about “equity” — a word that he said has been “hijacked” in recent years.
“I think the right thing is to give the citizens of Buckhead the opportunity to express themselves through a referendum,” Robertson said. “I think the campaign against it or for it starts after the referendum ... I don’t think the campaign starts inside this building.”
Sen. Jason Esteves, who sits on the SLOG committee, said Buckhead residents have voted – for him and for those including Sen. Josh McLaurin and Rep. Betsy Holland, who all oppose Buckhead cityhood. A poll commissioned last by the Committee for United Atlanta and Neighbors for a United Atlanta showed candidates supporting Buckhead cityhood were unpopular with likely voters. The candidates supporting Buckhead cityhood all lost.
Edward Lindsey, a former Buckhead state representative, a partner at Dentons law firm and co-chair of Committee for United Atlanta, stressed de-annexation has never been advanced in the General Assembly by people who do not represent that particular area. He said voters living in Buckhead have voted on the issue by electing representatives who oppose Buckhead cityhood.
He also said it is bad policy to “tear apart a city” by only allowing those living in Buckhead to vote on the issue rather than allowing the entire city to vote.
Humberto Garcia-Sjogrim, chair of Neighbors for a United Atlanta, said if Buckhead City was approved, he and his fellow residents of Garden Hills would immediately petition to secede from Buckhead City and rejoin Atlanta.
“And you’re gonna see that bloody mess happen all around our state, including in your backyards, because we’re opening a Pandora’s box here,” he said.
Erica Long, senior policy adviser for Atlanta Public Schools, said a new city of Buckhead lacks the authority to collect property taxes on behalf of any school district.
“And APS is not interested in participating in one that allows for the collection of city school taxes from homeowners and property owners outside the city of Atlanta,” she said.
Atlanta City Council President Doug Shipman said last year the city of Atlanta saw significant changes come to fruition under the leadership of Mayor Dickens as well as many new members of the City
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State Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Cataula), lead sponsor of SB 114 to incorporate Buckhead City.
Council, including his election as council president.
“Crime is down, graduation rates are up with our partners at APS, unemployment is at an all-time low and we have secured many major economic winds and have major events on the horizon,” Shipman said.
“We have tremendous momentum. We need to grow the pie with that momentum. We do not need to divide it into smaller pieces,” Shipman said.
Kenyatta Mitchell, director of intergovernmental affairs in the mayor’s office, wanted to point out that “births are different than divorces” — meaning the incorporation of cities like Sandy Springs do not compare to de-annexing Buckhead.
“Consequences matter,” she said. “All of these municipalities were born from a county. This is a divorce. And this is a divorce asked for by neither of the two parties. This is a third party asking for the two parties to have a divorce.”
The argument that there is no harm to
let people vote on Buckhead City is wrong, Mitchell said. The removal of the Buckhead district from the city of Atlanta would cause significant financial implications, including potentially affecting the city’s current and Buckhead’s future credit rating, and the potential need of restructuring the city of Atlanta’s obligations, she said.
There is no evidence public safety would improve if Buckhead broke off from Atlanta “because criminals do on respect boundaries,” she said. Plus, a Buckhead City police department would still have to deal with the challenged Fulton County judicial system, she added.
Divorcing Buckhead from Atlanta would create a “downward spiral” of deep resentment against a Buckhead City, she said, and likely lead to an increase in crime in the new city, Mitchell said.
At press time, another hearing was scheduled on Buckhead City for Feb. 22. Be sure to visit roughdraftatlanta.com to see the outcome and for more updates.
Light rail is out, BRT is in on Clifton Corridor
By Collin Kelley
advancing bus rapid transit (BRT) for the Clifton Corridor to connect the Lindbergh and Avondale Estates rail stations.
Two BRT options are currently in play: one that uses dedicated lanes from Lindbergh to Avondale and a second that would add an arterial rapid transit (ART) line to connect Lindberg to Decatur that would run with traffic on Clairemont Avenue.
The transit agency announced its plan during a trio of public meetings in February.
According to MARTA officials, the BRT project will connect “existing heavy rail lines and provide high-capacity transit along a rapidly developing residential, institutional, and mixed-use corridor.”
The BRT line would have stops at Emory University, Emory University Hospital, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta –Egleston, and Atlanta VA Medical Center. Both alternatives include bus shuttles to the VA Medical Center.
“BRT makes sense for this corridor, providing fast, efficient transit in dedicated bus lanes,” MARTA Assistant General Manager of Planning Shelley Peart said in a statement. “More and more transit expansion projects across the country are considering BRT due to its ability to provide rail-like service more quickly, with less impact, and at a lower capital cost. Those features improve the project’s overall rating and therefore its competitiveness for federal funding, which
we’ve known since this project’s inception would be critical to its completion.”
Because of these advantages, MARTA has recommended BRT for other projects including along Campbellton Road in Atlanta, on State Route 54 in Clayton County, and the first BRT project in the region, Summerhill.
MARTA had originally planned for 29 miles of new rail lines when Atlanta voters approved a half-penny sales tax in 2016. However, the cost of building rail now has made the transit agency look at BRT.
A rail line would cost $2.9 billion, while BRT would cost $1.3 billion, according to MARTA.
“Through this process, we’ve whittled the alternatives from ten to three and now down to two. Our team is taking the BRT alternatives to the public this week and will recommend an alternative to the MARTA Board this spring. Then, we can get to work on submitting this project to the FTA,” added Peart.
To learn more about the project and provide feedback, visit connectclifton.com.
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A rendering of a BRT line. (Courtesy MARTA)
A Place Where You Belong
Planning Board encourages commercial use for Lynwood Park
By Logan C. Ritchie
One year ago, the Brookhaven Planning Commission approved a special area plan to encourage commercial development at Windsor Parkway and Osborne Road in Lynwood Park. Now that plan is one step closer to reality.
The vision is a chef-driven restaurant and a “complementary” retail business with a patio and parking lot.
John Mansour of Stature Properties presented the plan at the Feb. 1 Planning Commission meeting. Mansour owns four parcels off the roundabout – three zoned C-1 (commercial), and one he’s petitioning to rezone from R-75 (residential) to N-S (neighborhood
The properties are located at 348 Windsor Parkway, 3147 and 3153 Osborne Road and 1153 Victoria Street. The development would sit across from Avellino’s restaurant.
The Planning Commission deferred the application in December to give Mansour 60 days to meet with neighbors, something Commissioner Michael Diaz
“What happened? Why am I hearing and reading that it was only last week that you actually approached the neighborhood? Not only that, you had already submitted a plan without even any consideration for what the intent was,” said Diaz, a 20-year resident of
Mansour said he emailed members of the community and made himself available.
“What I heard was, ‘Access to Victoria Street is an issue for us.’ What I heard was, ‘We want commercial development.’ What I need is parking to allow commercial development. And so at the end of the day, I did my best,” Mansour said.
Residents who spoke both in favor and against the plan agreed – they want development on the empty lots. But they want it without access, parking, and traffic on Victoria Street.
“This is a reckless approach to what will be permanent development,” said Christee Laster, Victoria Street resident. “[The developer] is not invested in the neighbors, and certainly not in the legacy of Lynwood.”
The first motion to deny the recommendation of the plan failed due to a split vote. The Planning Commission then voted unanimously to recommend the plan to City Council with conditions to limit parking at 1153 Victoria Street.
Lynwood Park received the city’s first historic designation in 2020. Projects in the neighborhood include historic markers, an artistic crosswalk at the roundabout, sculpture, and historic designation street-sign toppers.
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The traffic circle at Lynwood Park.
Local choice voting, parks and new city hall on agenda
By Logan C. Ritchie
Brookhaven City Council approved a resolution at its Feb. 15 meeting asking the Georgia General Assembly to select the city as a pilot community for local choice voting.
Local choice voting – also called ranked choice – would end runoff elections as voters make their second choice at the time of the general election.
The city wants to pilot the program during its Nov. 7 municipal elections.
Mayor Pro Tem Linley Jones said voters are weary of runoff elections.
“[Local choice voting] eliminates runoff elections, which I think people are so, so weary of and we want to be at the vanguard of getting rid of the runoff elections, let our voters go to the polls once both for the candidates they want and come out with a decision,” Jones said.
The city council also approved two resolutions to begin work on Briarwood and Brookhaven Parks.
The parks update comes as Brookhaven is moving forward with
for parks and facilities. The mayor in 2019 appointed the Parks Bond Oversight Committee to stay involved in the master plan process, project design and expenditures.
When Brookhaven incorporated in 2012, the city inherited 12 DeKalb County parks. Based on completed master plans, the city’s planning firm in 2018 estimated $77.5 million was needed for park improvements.
In other action, the Urban Redevelopment Agency asked the council to approve a supplemental resolution to the Series 2023A bonds, which passed in December 2022. The $88.5 million in bonds will finance a new City Hall, structural and streetscape improvements, and multi-use paths and sidewalks.
“A local government is reflective of the residents it represents, and Brookhaven residents want and deserve quality,” Mayor John Ernst said. “The bonds will empower us to improve the quality of our infrastructure and construct an iconic City Hall, and the ratings on the bonds from Moody’s and S&P are a powerful endorsement of the
building a 4,000 square foot lake house at Murphey Candler Park; upgrading the Briarwood Recreation Center parking lot, stormwater and utilities as well as adding a new community garden; and at Brookhaven Park, building a dog park, playground, pavilions and restrooms.
In July 2018, nearly 60% of Brookhaven residents voted yes on a park bond referendum and $40 million in capital improvements was authorized
quality of our fiscal stewardship.”
Brookhaven received the highest rating from Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s on the financial health, management and fiscal policies of the city.
The City Hall, which will be located adjacent to the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe MARTA station is already in design phase with a price tag of $78 million.
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A rendering of Brookhaven City Hall.
flyers, police say
By Cathy Cobbs
Authorities say that their hands are tied when it comes to prosecuting the people who distributed hundreds of antisemitic flyers throughout neighborhoods in the Dunwoody and Sandy Springs area in February, but a new state bill could be a game-changer.
At the Dunwoody City Council meeting on Feb. 13, police chief Billy Grogan, in response to questions from the panel, said the distribution of the flyers is protected under free speech.
“After conducting a thorough investigation and discussing this with the district attorney’s office and the city’s solicitor’s office, there is no charge that we can make against them,” Grogan told the council. “It’s a free speech issue.”
Council member Catherine Lautenbacher asked if there were any legal ramifications involving littering or invasion of personal property, and Council Member Rob Price inquired about implicit or outright terroristic threats contained in the missives, but Grogan said none of those factors would warrant an arrest.
“Lots of things are thrown in people’s yards, and we cannot enforce one because we don’t like the content and not enforce the other,” he said. “It would be a disparate enforcement of the law and one that could potentially jam us up, legally.”
Grogan said that the police know who distributed the material, saying that the organization had posted a video “online of people passing out the flyers.”
The Goyim Defamation League, which took credit for the mass distribution of the flyers, posted several videos on its website showing a car throwing flyers into yards. It also linked to local media reports about the incident.
The video, entitled “Flyers on Flyers,” shows a first-person perspective of the flyers being thrown from a car onto driveways, and includes several shots of a woman pointing a gun at the camera. The video, which was posted Feb. 1, doesn’t contain any landmarks that could pinpoint where the distribution took place. The incident in Dunwoody and Sandy Springs took place in the early morning hours of Feb. 5.
The flyer says in its headline “Every single aspect of the Jewish Talmud is satanic.” Another rendition of the flyer claims the Anti-Defamation League “was established in 1913 to protect a Jewish child murdering pedophile.”
A bill introduced in the Georgia House of Representatives in January, sponsored by State Rep. Esther Panitch (D-Sandy Springs), would define a definition of anti-Semitism that could make it easier to prosecute under the Hate Crimes Act, which was passed in 2020.
The definition of anti-Semitism would require state agencies and departments to “consider such definition when determining whether an alleged act was motivated by discriminatory antisemitic intent.”
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Antisemitic fliers found in Dunwoody.
Arrest made in metro mailbox thefts and check ‘washing’
By Cathy Cobbs
The Fayette County Sheriff’s Department has charged a 19-year-old man with multiple counts of financial identity fraud, which the victims believe are related to a rash of mail thefts in the metro area, including Dunwoody.
T. Rene Rodriguez, who had mailed a check at a post office located at the corner of Trowbridge and Roswell Roads in Sandy Springs, said he received a phone call from a detective with the Fayette County Sheriff’s office on Jan. 25, saying that the authorities had the check in their possession.
Rodriguez said the officer, whom he identified as David Gunter, said authorities had arrested a 19-year-old man who had in his possession more than $1 million in stolen checks, as well as a master key to the post office’s so-called “blue boxes.”
“I was really surprised because I didn’t even know that the check had been stolen since it was less than a week since I had mailed it,” Rodriguez said. “You just don’t expect a call like that.”
Rodriguez said he was impressed by Gunter’s “strong sense of justice” regarding
“He told me that the person who they arrested was going to go away for a really long time,” he said.
Rodriguez said he posted the account on the social network Nextdoor. It has received more than 20,000 views, and almost 100 comments, most of whom were highly complimentary of the detective’s work in apprehending the
Fayette County Sheriff’s department released the arrest report and little other information about the suspect, identified as Hakeem Isaiah Lewis of Fayetteville. He has been charged with one count of theft by possession of stolen mail, 13 counts of financial identity fraud, and one count of printing fictitious checks.
The booking report, which was
released after the Dunwoody Reporter filed a Freedom of Information act, does not include any other details about the case, aside from a list of the charges against Lewis. A spokesperson for the department said the incident report, which would include additional details, is not yet available. He said that there is no definite release date for that information.
Federal and local authorities have been investigating a rash of mail theft and check “washing” that has been occurring in the area for the past few months.
In Dunwoody alone, there have been nearly 50 reported incidents totaling more than $500,000 involving checks being stolen, altered and cashed, often for thousands of dollars more than the original value.
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Dunwoody Post Office was the site of numerous mail thefts.
David Gunter (Courtesy Fayette Sheriff’s Department)
City Council approves $50.7 million for police HQ
By Bob Pepalis
Sandy Springs approved a $50.7 million design development budget for the city’s future police headquarters and municipal court building at 620 Morgan Falls Road.
City Council members, sitting in their dual role as the Public Facilities Authority, approved the budget during a Feb. 7 meeting.
Construction should begin in June, Dave Wells, director of Facilities/Capital Construction and Building Operations, said. It would be substantially completed by December 2024.
The project includes the renovation of an existing four-story office building plus additions for the municipal court and a sally port entry off the secure parking lot on the left side of the building. An open-air courtyard would be in the middle between the existing building and the new additions, Yara Rymer Bond of Jericho Design Group told the City Council. Parking lot and site improvements are included.
Charlie Whiting of Reeves and Young, the company contracted for the design development, said the construction was priced at just more than $36 million for the building and site work at the Morgan Falls Road site.
Project includes fleet maintenance building
The project includes $3.43 million for a fleet maintenance building that will be located at 8475 Roswell Road. An
earlier proposal called for it to be built at the Morgan Falls site. Moving the fleet maintenance operations to a different site potentially will reduce the overall project costs as a recent land purchase by the city will enable traditional stormwater detention measures, Bond said. The city recently bought two parcels of land that will add another half-acre to the property that provides the space for the stormwater detention, Bond said.
The fleet maintenance building will be a pre-engineered metal building, with brick on the side facing Roswell Road, she said.
The rest of the budgeted funding would cover construction management costs, contingency funds, a security system and $3 million set aside for furniture, fixtures and equipment.
The design would create a 110,763-square-foot police headquarters, a courthouse/lobby addition with 11,295 square feet of space and 8,484 square feet for the sally port addition that will be external to the building.
The existing building is a brick and glass veneer and steel-frame structure with 106,678 square feet of space. It was built in 1990 and has been through one significant remodel. The city bought the Morgan Falls property in October 2020 for $10.9 million.
Fire Station One and a shooting range with parking are proposed projects that are not included in this funding, Bond said.
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A rendering of the new Sandy Springs Police headquarters.
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City terminates Phoenix Gymnastics’ lease
By Bob Pepalis
A loss of revenue caused by the pandemic, trouble finding coaching staff, and a problem with squirrels forced Phoenix Gymnastics to make late rent payments on the gym space at Hammond Park. Now, the city has terminated the company’s lease.
The city of Sandy Springs plans to put out a request for proposals to provide gymnastics classes at Hammond Park, Assistant City Manager Kristin Smith said during the Feb. 7 City Council meeting.
However, council members including Andy Bauman said they did not want to move forward without knowing if the complaints made about the gym facility were addressed first. Smith said there was funding for a Hammond Park master plan that would include determining needs for the gym, including repairs.
Meanwhile, Phoenix Gymnastic’s owner Gina White is looking at her options, even as angry parents come to her defense.
Pandemic restrictions cut students, revenue
In August 2019, the city signed an agreement with Phoenix Gymnastics through 2024 to provide recreational and competitive gymnastics for children ages eight months to 18 years old. The program serves 300 children.
Phoenix Gymnastics’ lease agreement with the city was set at $90,000 annually or $7,500 per month.
But the pandemic caused the city to close its facilities including the Hammond Park gym from March to June in 2020. When it reopened, COVID-19 protocols restricted the gym to only 40 children at a time and they had to wear masks. White said students were slow to return to the program.
She reached out for help from the city, which decided not to require any recreational contractor to pay rent while facilities were closed. And it reduced payments for following months.
“There’s no way in the world that we could have stayed open and continued to provide classes with those types of restrictions here,” White said.
White said she couldn’t find coaches willing to come back to work, forcing her to limit participants even as restrictions were easing. She asked the city for help, and it restructured her agreement for the short term.
“We decided to reach out to some community high schools that have their work-based learning programs,” White said. “And we took in some high schoolers to train them to be certified as a gymnastics instructor.”
That wasn’t the only problem.
“There are squirrels that run around in the rafters during our classes, during our practices. Every once in a while, one of them might fall and so we have to deal with a squirrel running across the floor,” she said.
More financial difficulty came from the requirement to provide affordable classes for everyone, she said.
“It became difficult because now my expenses have gone up, but I’m still in this place where I had to make sure that this program is affordable for everyone in the city,” White said.
Phoenix Gymnastics increased its fees slightly to $20 per class or $120 for six sessions. Other gymnastics programs are charging much more.
White said she was unsuccessful in seeking grants and never heard about a city program that used $1.2 million program in federal funds to help small businesses survive the pandemic.
She started falling behind in rent payments in September 2020 after taking out loans during the pandemic to help with expenses.
The city issued a default letter on Nov. 18 for an unpaid balance of $22,500, giving Phoenix Gymnastics two weeks to make payments, Smith said at the council meeting.
Phoenix Gymnastics said on Nov. 28 it would not be able to meet the $7,500 monthly payments and asked that the rent be cut to $5,000. A month later the city terminated the lease, Smith said. A $22,500 payment had been received, but December’s $7,500 rent payment hadn’t been made. White’s family helped cover the $22,500 in back payments. That left her with a $7,500 balance for December. The community including the parents of her students helped raise the money, which was sent to the city by early February.
“That takes care of all of my outstanding balances or debt that I had for that contract and presently we’re working on an hour-tohour basis,” White said.
The city allowed Phoenix rental programming for $50 an hour, she said during the Feb. 7 meeting. The city began paying the $2,410 monthly cleaning cost. few families decided to look for other locations for Phoenix Gymnastics and have asked her for its requirements. Other families want to figure out how to keep it at Hammond Park.
White isn’t opposed to staying at Hammond Park, though she said it seems that the city already made its decision.
“I’d love to sit down and talk with them about how do you make this a working model,” she said.
12 | MARCH 2023 ROUGHDRAFTATLANTA.COM
This exhibition is co-organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. Image: Evelyn Hofer (American, born Germany, 1922–2009), Queensboro Bridge, New York (detail), 1964, dye transfer print, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase with funds from Joe Williams and Tede Fleming, 2021.99.
PREMIER EXHIBITION SERIES SPONSOR PREMIER EXHIBITION SERIES SUPPORTERS ACT Foundation, Inc. Sarah and Jim Kennedy Louise Sams and Jerome Grilhot
BENEFACTOR EXHIBITION SERIES SUPPORTERS Robin and Hilton Howell
HIGH MUSEUM OF ART ATLANTA OPENS MARCH 24 HIGH.ORG
ON THE CITY
Courtesy Phoenix Gymnastics
Let the memory live again!
UGA tennis champion Angela Simon finds success on pro pickleball circuit
And Simon quickly leveled up. She started playing seriously, and then professionally. After turning 50 and becoming eligible for professional mixed doubles competition for the 2022 year, she began traveling outside of the state for the first time for tournaments while continuing to make a name for herself in the sport and winning tournaments along the way.
"I didn't start at the top and I'm still not at the top, but I go to Hammond and I mix with everyone and have fun," she said.
Simon, then Lettiere, led the Lady Bulldogs to the program's first-ever women's tennis title as a senior — on the team's home court in Athens, as UGA was hosting the tournament for the first time. Simon played tennis for four years professionally after college, eventually competing in all four Grand Slam events and climbing to No. 25 in the world in doubles and inside the top 150 in singles.
Those tennis credentials rank up there with just about anyone in professional pickleball circles. And while her lifetime of experience in tennis translates well to the pickleball game, the smaller court and differences in the racket and balls make for notable differences.
not going to hurt them,” Simon joked. “It's a great frustration release."
Later in 2020, Simon connected with one of the top male tennisturned-pickleball senior players in Atlanta, Dan Granot, who also played tennis at UGA and then the University of Arkansas in the 80s. Granot, now 57, recruited Simon to join him as his partner on the pro senior mixed doubles tour the moment she was eligible.
“He invited me to play with a group one day and he said, ‘When you turn 50, you're going to be my partner. Remember that. In a year and a half, you will be my partner playing with me.’”
Granot, who lives in Buckhead and is owner of Joel and Granot Real Estate, held to his word. They started winning in the pro ranks in 2022, hoisting trophies at high-profile pickleball tourneys such as the South Carolina Open, the Hilton Head Open and the Boca Raton Masters, finishing no lower than fourth in any they entered. Simon has also won and placed highly in women’s doubles with other top senior players, including a win at South Carolina with top player Anna Shirley for a double gold at the event.
By Alex Ewalt
Angela Simon's first encounter with pickleball in May 2020 came about through a bit of happenstance. Simon, the 1994 NCAA women's singles champion who also won a team title that year at the University of Georgia, was looking for ways to kill time while waiting for her daughter's softball practice to finish at Shaw Park in Marietta.
"My oldest had a softball practice that was, like, four hours long, and we happened to be at Shaw Park," Simon said. "I remember walking around with my youngest and saying to her, 'Why are all these people out here and what are they doing?'"
So, Simon decided to walk over to the tennis courts, where a crowd
of people was playing and practicing pickleball, the racket sport that exploded in popularity once the Covid-19 pandemic hit. She jumped in with a small practice group, who asked her if she had ever played before. She said no. But someone handed her a paddle to use for the day, and before she knew it, she was partnered up with one of the top male players at the park and started winning matches the same day she picked up the sport.
"It's the most fun I've had in so long," said Simon, a Brookhaven resident whose home court is now Hammond Park. "People have been so nice, it's been such a great change and I've met so many great people. I've started teaching it. It's so refreshing because there are so many different
"I think the hardest part is that I never had very good touch in tennis, and pickle is all about touch," Simon said. "There's a power element, but to be better, you really do have to have touch. Sometimes it can be so fast, but sometimes you have to play really soft.
“But I think the most fun is just to be able to hit people as hard as you can and you know you're
“I have an 11-year-old and 16-yearold at home and most senior-level players are empty-nesters, but I compete when I can,” Simon said. She runs a tennis instruction company, Up4Tennis, but has started teaching pickleball and intends to continue in the sport for the long haul.
“I would love to slowly transition from tennis to pickleball in some way in my next job,” Simon said. “Not necessarily just teaching, but just being a part of it, I'm not sure how.
I just think it's a really unique sport and it's such a family sport. We can go out with our 11-yearold and still have fun, whereas with tennis we can't really do that. The ball is different and the court is so large. But it's such a family sport.
“You can see 15-year-olds playing with 60-year-olds. Where else do you see that? I think it's so unique.”
14 | MARCH 2023 ROUGHDRAFTATLANTA.COM COVER
Angela Simon with Don Granott with the trophy after their win at the Hilton Head Open.
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‘Friendly’ pickleball mushrooms at Hammond Park
By Joe Earle
Back in the summer of 2018, Henry Dan just wanted to find a place he could play pickleball regularly. He’d been introduced to the up-and-coming game with the funny name when visiting his brother in Florida. He liked it, so he started looking for other pickleball fans to play with when he was home in Sandy Springs.
He checked out an established private pickleball club that met regularly at Hammond Park. They’d been around for a while and played in the mornings. But Dan didn’t feel altogether at home with the group.
So, in 2019, he and a few friends established a new group, which arranged pickleball games on the Hammond courts in the afternoons and would let anybody play. They called their group the Friendly Hammond Players. Anybody from rank newbies to grizzled vets would be welcome to join them for a game a pickleball, which is regularly touted as the fastest-growing sport in the country. “It just started mushrooming,” said Wayne Bernstein, a 77-year-old retired stockbroker who was part of that early group.
‘Mushroom’ may be an understatement. As of mid-February, more than 725 players had signed up to use the app the Friendly Hammond Players employ to coordinate games, Dan said. He said about 70 “hardcore” players take part in games regularly. He plays four to five days a week himself, both with the morning and afternoon groups, he said.
To keep up with that growth, the city of Sandy Springs claims 10 pickleball courts in tennis and basketball areas at Hammond Park, eight dedicated pickleball courts at the Sandy Springs Tennis Center and is joining Fulton County schools to add six more at Ridgeview Middle School, a spokesman said. Dan said Friendly Hammond Players are working with the city to get more dedicated pickleball courts at Hammond Park.
Part of the appeal, pickleball’s promoters say, is that while the game takes only a few minutes to learn, it is difficult to master and remains challenging to play. Besides, the equipment a player needs to get started is relatively cheap, and the game encourages
players to get to know one another. “You can talk and socialize while playing,” Dan said.
Melissa Lowry, an elementary school principal, said he and her husband have been playing pickleball at Hammond Park for about 18 months. She regularly plays tennis, too, she said, but finds pickleball a more social sport. Playing pickleball in the park is like playing basketball in pickup games, she said. “I like pickleball because it’s accessible to a lot of different people,” she said.
That’s part of why the Friendly Hammond Players got started in the first place, after all. “It’s a real strong social group that happens to play pickleball,” Dan, a 66-year-old consultant, said during a break from games at Hammond one recent Saturday. “We don’t have any [jerks] in our group. ‘Friendly’ is the first word in our name.”
16 | MARCH 2023 ROUGHDRAFTATLANTA.COM
Top, Henry Dan and Wayne Bernstein play doubles at Hammond Park. Center, Melissa Lowry enjoys a match at Hammond Park.
Bottom, Henry Dan
Online communities The Kitchen and Pickleheads fuel pickleball’s rise
By Alex Ewalt
When Jason Aspes started The Kitchen in 2020, it was the result of a professional detour.
Paul had recently moved to Austin, Texas, to work on a startup focusing on the music and concert space, and his longtime friend Jason Aspes had been advising him in the endeavor. Of course, the Covid-19 pandemic had other plans for the concert industry, which subsequently shut down and stopped the startup in its tracks.
Like many other Americans in the first months of the pandemic, the two took to pickleball, a racket sport that incorporates elements of tennis, ping pong and badminton and is played as either singles or doubles on a surface smaller than a tennis court. The sport, which has evolved quickly in the past three years, can feature fierce “firefights” or impressive displays of touch at the net with a ball that resembles a smaller wiffle ball.
“During the pandemic, it was an opportunity to get outside, get some exercise and do something different,” said Aspes, who officially joined the company in 2022. “And we both just really fell in love with the game and recognized there was an opportunity here.”
“One thing led to another and pickleball just absolutely boomed,” Aspes added. “We were right there at the ground level of that groundswell.”
Enter The Kitchen, an online community with a website, TheKitchenPickle.com, that is chock full of content, as well as its various social media accounts featuring news, views, videos and, of course, memes.
“I was working on the music startup and raised the round, and we built a similar community to what The Kitchen is in the concert space,” Paul said. “And then when things got shut down after we raised the round, I discovered pickleball and started leveraging some of the same growth strategies to build an audience, and it just took off super quickly.”
“It's an incredibly social sport, but there was nothing online tying people together,” Aspes said. “It was all disparate, there was no unification, there was no place to understand what the rules were, there was no go-to home for pickleball, and we tried to provide that.”
The two are early-90s graduates of Riverwood High School in Sandy Springs and have ample experience in the fields of advertising and social media. Aspes, who lives in Brookhaven, has been a competitive basketball player, and Paul, who is still in Austin, came up wrestling. Both say that pickleball has brought out people from any and all athletic backgrounds and has rekindled the desire to compete for many.
“I wrestled in high school, and I think that's one of the reasons why I'm so addicted to pickleball, because it's been a while since I've been able to compete in a sport at a relatively high level,” Paul said.
“We see athletes from all different backgrounds,” Aspes said. “Obviously all the paddle and racket sports are huge. Ping pong, badminton, squash, racquetball, tennis, that's where we're seeing tons of people coming in now, but also basketball, baseball, golfers who are looking for more exercise and something a little bit more social and quicker, and less expensive. There's a lot of positives to the game.”
Fans can expect a little bit of everything at The Kitchen’s website, as well is its social media channels on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, with a dedicated Atlanta group on Facebook with thousands of followers. Across all platforms, The Kitchen has nearly 300,000 followers, the largest online pickleball fan community cumulatively, according to Paul.
“I think it's a bit of a mish mash and it's all about what you're looking for,” Aspes said. “So if you're looking for instructional and you're trying to improve your game, that's there. If you're looking for conversations with likeminded fans, that's an option. If you're looking to interact with the pros, we have tons of pros who pop into the platform. There's no real barrier between spending time with the professionals.”
From the tennis world, Paul cites big professional names like Atlanta native Donald Young and former UGA star John Isner who have jumped into pickleball. And the game has attracted big celebrities such as Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio as well as investing interest from stars in other sports, such as Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Rob Gronkowski. In 2022, The Kitchen hosted an event in Miami with 11 Vodka and two events in California, with Cutwater Spirits and comedy studio Funny or Die.
For metro Atlanta, Aspes and Paul say that there is more and more choice for courts and venues, even at indoor gyms such as the Lifetime Fitness in Sandy Springs, which recently repurposed its basketball courts as three permanent pickleball courts. Even a fixture like Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association, or ALTA, is jumping into pickleball competition, Aspes said.
“There are a lot of options coming down the pike, but we're seeing tennis courts, tennis clubs, tennis communities convert their tennis courts, not necessarily into full-time pickleball, but to at least give people the option to play
pickleball or tennis,” Aspes said. “It's just booming. Every day we're seeing new clubs opened up around the country.”
Another online community, Atlantabased Pickleheads, is also riding the wave of momentum. With offices in the Berkeley Park neighborhood of West Midtown, Pickleheads CEO Max Ade, an Atlanta resident, founded the service in February 2022 with his team in order to connect the growing number of players to court and game options nationwide.
pickleball’s rise, accessibility is key.
“The goal of Pickleheads is to be the digital home for pickleball players,” Mackie said. “So you can imagine anything from finding a court to organizing your own games, to finding local players near you, all that happens on our site. So really what we’re seeing in the space right now is
MARCH 2023 | 17 ROUGHDRAFTATLANTA.COM
Brandon Mackie, a co-founder of the company and a Georgia Tech graduate who played tennis at Jenkins High School in Savannah, says that at this stage of
Jared Paul, Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx, and Jason Aspes.
a big supply-and-demand challenge. There are just way more people that want to play than there are courts available. And what our site means to do is make the game more accessible to people and help people get out to the right courts at the right time so they can go and enjoy the sport.”
Mackie said Pickleheads has a nationwide court directory of nearly 11,000 entries and is constantly being updated with more.
“We have what we believe to be the largest database of pickleball courts in the country,” Mackie said. “No matter where in the country you live, you can use our site to find a facility close to you and get information on how many courts there are, what are the popular times people play, do you need to bring your own net, what sorts of amenities are provided.”
Pickleheads features such hotspots as Hammond Park in Sandy Springs, the Marcus Jewish Community Center in Dunwoody, McClatchey Park in the Ansley Park neighborhood of Atlanta and many more. Mackie also cited the trend of tennis centers adding or converting courts, such as Sandy Springs Tennis Center, which now has eight courts.
“There’s an estimated 5 million players in the US playing right now, and a lot of industry insiders and experts estimate we’ll see 40 million players by 2030,” Mackie said. “And if that happens, it will be almost twice the size of tennis in terms of participation.”
More options will be coming to Pickleheads in early 2023, Mackie said, including features that will allow organizers to reach more potential players and communicate
more efficiently with entrants to big events.
For The Kitchen in 2023, Aspes and Paul are excited to add retail options for the growing number of pickleball products, launching in February, as well as a six-city, moneyball-style amateur tour. But the goal, Paul said, is always to act as ambassadors for the sport while encouraging positivity among its growing following.
“We really try to be not only champions of the sport, but we also spend a ton of time curating the content and the conversation, so we can keep the sentiment positive,” Paul said. “We definitely are not fans of online trolling or keyboard warriors, and we just don't allow that in our communities.
“We're relatively new to the sport still, and we have a ton to learn. We're always just trying to remain humble and work as hard as we can to grow the sport.”
Pickleheads.com helps players find courts, resources, and more.
18 | MARCH 2023 ROUGHDRAFTATLANTA.COM
NFL player Rob Gronkowski and Jason Aspes.
Green lobbying under the Gold Dome
resources. The largely anti-environmental stance on the part of the Republican majority has made lobbying for a healthy environment more difficult. Despite the formidable challenges, the Georgia Water Coalition (gawater.org), which celebrated its twentieth-anniversary last year, continues to deliver results, even if some of them are years in the making.
The GWC was established to stop the attempted transformation of Georgia’s water into a marketable commodity— allocated not according to need or plan but to the agreements between willing buyers and sellers seeking profits. That horribly misguided idea was defeated by the coalition and its allies, notably local government officials. Today, GWC members adopt legislative priorities each year to address critical threats to state waters—in addition to opposing attempts to roll back environmental protections.
During the current 40-day legislative session, scheduled to end on March 29, the GWC is actively supporting two initiatives: a bill to protect the Okefenokee Swamp from mining, and anticipated legislation to strengthen the regulation of “soil amendments” (read: animal waste and sewage sludge) applied to farmland.
Protecting Georgia’s ‘Wild Heart’
The motivating factor for the Okefenokee Protection Act is a pending, highly flawed application by Alabamabased Twin Pines Minerals LLC (a proven bad actor in other projects) to mine heavy mineral sands (epd.georgia.gov/twinpines) near the Okefenokee; this specific application would not be affected by HB 71. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (read the governor) will decide this year whether or not the risky Twin Pines project will be approved. It must be stopped.
Streams of Chicken Waste
Last summer, gray, bubbling water was discovered in a tributary to the Little River in northeast Georgia, upstream of a massive fish kill. The pollution was traced back to a farm that had, in just six weeks, accepted more than two hundred loads of “soil amendments” – waste from a pet food plant and a milk facility – and dumped the liquid gunk onto hay fields and into a pond.
ABOVE THE WATER LINE
The Georgia State Capitol is not a comfortable or easy place to advocate on behalf of nature—be it rivers, mountains, swamps or the coast. I know this from often painful and frustrating personal experience. Every winter, for more than two decades until retirement, I put on my business suit, pearls, and heels and joined the legislative circus in the cavernous capitol hallways, where seating is limited and the floors are cold, hard marble. Lobbyists hang out on the third floor of the building, watching televisions that show the activity in each legislative chamber (House and Senate). This makes them easily accessible to legislators, who periodically dash out of their chamber doors to ask for advice or meet with constituents. Public interest lobbyists who advocate for the environment, healthcare,
families, education, and other progressive causes can be found on the north side of the third floor. Business lobbyists dominate the south side of the building with its shoe-shine stand—a deep, philosophical (and relative compensation) chasm between them.
On behalf of Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, I worked with conservation colleagues to pass good environmental bills and kill bad ones; the latter often took up more of our time than the former. In the 1990s and early 2000s, it was possible to find bipartisan support from leading Democrats and Republicans for some of our legislative proposals. Sadly, this bipartisan alignment is less common today.
For the past twenty years, the political landscape has been dominated by one party in the governor’s office, both legislative chambers, and key committee chairs, importantly including natural
On Feb. 8, Governor Kemp and legislators proclaimed Okefenokee Swamp Day in Georgia before an enthusiastic crowd of swampers, including mayors, country commissioners, farmers, and businesspeople interested in eco-tourism. Two people-size alligators waved from capitol balconies, while several real swamp critters (and their handlers) tolerated the attention of legislators and lobbyists.
If it passes, the HB 71 Okefenokee Protection Act (legis.ga.gov/ legislation/63631) will help safeguard the world-renowned, 438,000-acre wetland from industrial mining proposals that threaten irreversible, negative impacts. The legislation would prohibit the state from issuing future permits to conduct surface mining operations on the highest elevations of Trail Ridge: the prehistoric barrier island that helped create the swamp by holding back its waters. HB 71 has been assigned to the House Natural Resource Committee, chaired by Rep. Lynn Smith (R-Newnan). For nearly two decades, she has regularly stifled proenvironment legislation. More worrisome are the highly-paid, corporate lobbyists hired by Twin Pines to oppose the bill.
In Georgia, soil amendment is the term state officials use, euphemistically, to describe animal waste (mostly chicken blood and guts) and industrial sewage sludge; they also like to call it “repurposed material.” Applied to dry soils and in limited quantities, this liquid waste can improve soil condition; however, that is rarely the outcome in Georgia. Most of the material is being dumped in massive quantities on farm fields. Neighbors must contend with unbearable odors and swarms of flies. When it rains, and often even when it doesn’t rain, the waste flows into nearby streams.
Although it’s responsible for managing how these materials are used as soil additives, Georgia’s Department of Agriculture is not doing enough to ensure the sludge is kept out of nearby waterways. Local officials, citizens, and the GWC are pushing lawmakers to give local governments more authority in managing the waste disposal; greater transparency is also needed. Not surprisingly, Big Chicken – a dominant player at the Gold Dome –is not keen on any additional regulation or oversight.
Let your state legislators know what you think about these issues using this link georgia.gov/contact-state-legislators.
Provide comments to the Georgia EPD about the Twin Pines mining proposal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
20 | MARCH 2023 ROUGHDRAFTATLANTA.COM SUSTAINABILITY
Okefenokee Swamp Day at the Gold Dome.
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Brookhaven author brings attention to ‘Other Famous African Americans’
By Logan C. Ritchie
Loren E. Brereton sat down to discuss her children’s book, “Other Famous African Americans,” on a drizzly, winter day. It was the kind of rainy day that Brereton, a retired elementary school teacher, would tell her students, “Okay, we’re going to forget about social studies today. Let’s just get on the floor and read this fabulous book I found for you.”
Although she now lives in Brookhaven, Brereton’s New York accent is thick. She lists her favorite childhood books as “Aesop’s Fables” illustrated by Jerry Pinkney and “Dorrie the Witch” by Patricia Coombs.
“I used to tell my students, ‘When you open a book, your mind just wanders.’ I get totally immersed in a book, and I would always try to get my children to do that,” Brereton said.
Born in Sheepshead Bay, N.Y., Brereton was the only child of a nurse and a chauffeur. She grew up near E. 14th
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Street and Avenue X, surrounded by family and friends. Block parties and visiting with her cousins on the front porch were standard practice.
Her best friend, Lorraine, was Italian. They’d trek to the neighborhood library after school and read books in the backyard. The girls were around nine years old when they were allowed to walk down E. 14th Street to the Sheepshead branch. The children’s floor was upstairs.
“I loved the smell of those books. The clear covering on top? You know, the jacket protection on top, was just so beautiful,” Brereton recollected.
Her Aunt Cynthia would take her to the library all the time, Brereton said, instilling a love of books. Once she started a lending library out of her home’s big bay window with a box of extra books.
Brereton went on to graduate from New York Institute of Technology, pledge Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, marry her husband, Michael. They raised their two children on Long Island. She taught Kindergarten and first grade for 22 years before retiring and moving to metro Atlanta.
Black History Month at Clara H. Carlson School in Elmont, N.Y. is a big deal. Students gather for an assembly to hear speeches and a reading of “The Drinking Gourd” by F.N. Monjo. They sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by
James Weldon Johnson and J. Rosamond Johnson, a hymn about enslaved African Americans’ fight for freedom.
In preparation for the 2008 annual presentation of Black History Month, Brereton came up with a song. She set it to the tune of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – a catchy tune her first graders could remember.
“We were doing a Black History Month presentation and just couldn’t figure out what we were going to do,” said Brereton. “I went home, and I was just sitting there. And it just came out of me. That’s it.”
The song – now Brereton’s book – features people like Alfred Cralle, who invented the ice cream scoop in Pittsburgh, Penn., in 1897 and John Lee Love, the Massachusetts inventor of the hand-cranked pencil sharpener in 1894.
“You know Martin and Harriet and Booker and Mary/ Georgette, Sojourner and Daniel and Harry/ but can you imagine/ other famous African Americans?” the song begins.
The song became her book, “Other Famous African Americans.” It’s on sale at Tall Tales bookshop and on Amazon and was recently featured on The Drew Barrymore Show. Brereton has an Instagram account, @what_loren_shares. It’s named for a book, of course.
22 | MARCH 2023 ROUGHDRAFTATLANTA.COM
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Loren E. Brereton
Loren E. Brereton
Beloved Tara Theatre to reopen this spring
By Sammie Purcell and Collin Kelley
The closure of the beloved Tara Theatre will be short-lived thanks to Plaza Theatre owner Christopher Escobar.
During the Feb. 21 closing night screening for the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (AJFF), Escobar announced in a video message that he was reopening the Tara in a “few months.” The cinema, located at the corner of Cheshire Bridge and Lavista Roads, was closed by its previous owner, Regal Cinemas, just before the holidays.
The Tara had been a destination for art house and foreign film lovers for more than 50 years.
Escobar said the reopening was possible thanks to undisclosed partners and his friendship with AJFF executive director Kenny Blank, who advocated with the property owners, Halpern Enterprises, on his behalf.
“[Blank] has a friendship with the Halpern family and knows that I was trying to work on getting it reopened, and advocated on our behalf to make that an arrangement that’s sustainable and would make it possible for it to reopen,” Escobar said. “They listened to that and agreed to come to an arrangement that makes that realistic.”
He said the Tara would still cater to art house, indie, and foreign film fans, but would also screen classic movies in 35mm and 70mm formats.
“For the first time in more than a decade, The Tara will be a cinema regularly presenting films in their original formats,” Escobar said in the release.
Escobar said the Tara is hoping to pre-sell $50,000 in tickets and vouchers ahead of the opening. Donations are also welcome. Get more information at the new Tara Cinema website, taraatlanta.com.
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Lud modeling a dress by Alix (Madame Grès) for Vogue. Courtesy of the Horst P. Horst Estate and @TheArtDesignProjectGallery.
Dunwoody becoming a new dining destination
By Cathy Cobbs
From the list of restaurants launching in the next six months, that answer is “yes.” And it’s not just chain establishments –many of Dunwoody’s newcomers are nonfranchise owners migrating from inside and outside the perimeter.
Leading the way is David Abes’ Dash Hospitality Group with its restaurant complex in the heart of Dunwoody Village that features both indoor and open-air seating. Two venues, Bar(n) Booze and Bites and Morty’s Meat & Supply, have already opened in the complex called The Village, with three more scheduled later this year.
This is Abes’ first solo foray into the Dunwoody area, coming from Buckhead Life Restaurant Group where he served as COO, overseeing nine restaurants in Georgia and four in Florida.
The Hall at Ashford Lane, a food hall with a similar multi-dining indoor and outdoor option configuration, is scheduled to open soon in a renovated development that includes Super Target. It’s located near The Lawn at Ashford Lane, which is a park at the center of the development that will be bordered by additional new restaurants.
The lineup at The Lawn will include Grana, which has another location in Buckhead, Hawkers, an Asian street food concept, and Tex-Mex favorite Superica, which just opened its sixth location at the end of February.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, next door to Superica, has already opened its doors, its ninth Atlanta location. HOBNOB Neighborhood Tavern and Taco Mac,
longtime tenants at the center, are adjacent to the new outdoor space at the Hall. Other restaurants joining the migration to Dunwoody include North Italia Eatery, Louisiana Bakery, 26 Thai Kitchen, Valor Coffee and Paris Baguette. More dining venues will enter the market after the completion of High Street, a 36-acre complex that will contain 400,000 square
24 | MARCH 2023
feet of retail space, a 400-bed hotel,3,000 residential units and 672,000 square feet of office space in the heart of the Perimeter Business District.
Puttshack, a tech-infused mini-golf experience, featuring food and drink options, has already committed to High Street and is expected to launch in the complex’s first phase.
Dunwoody Economic Development Director Michael Starling attributes the migration of local restaurants to the Dunwoody area to the area’s demographics and Dunwoody residents’ desire to “live locally.”
“We have an affluent base of residents in Dunwoody and a large daytime population of office workers who are returning after the pandemic,” Starling said.
In addition, Starling said, Dunwoody diners increasingly want to have a unique experience, not just a quick meal at a national chain restaurant.
“It’s not a new trend, but it has certainly accelerated after Covid,” he said. “We are finally getting destination dining in Dunwoody that feels cool, a place where you want to spend time.”
The food hall concept is also appealing to those who like the opportunity to choose from a variety of dining options in the same area.
“An entire family can go to one location, eat where they want, and everyone can go home happy,” Starling said.
MARCH 2023 | 25
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High Street adds four new retail tenants Phipps Plaza to get high-tech food hall
By Sammie Purcell
A new food hall is expected to open at Phipps Plaza this spring.
A 25,000-square-foot food hall called Citizens Market is looking to open at Phipps Plaza in April, according to a press release. Citizens Market is an elevated food hall concept from a food tech platform called C3 (Creating Culinary Communities) and a data intelligence company called Legends.
According to the release, the culinary offerings at Citizens Market will include Umami Burger, Krispy Rice, Sam’s Crispy Chicken, Kumi, EllaMia, Cicci di Carne, Plant Nation, El Pollo Verde, Stone Bowls, Frankly by Snap-O-Razo, Citizens Pizza and
The different brands will have shared kitchen space and customers will be able to use an app to order food ahead from any of the restaurants.
“Legends is excited to partner with C3 to provide our operational expertise and global hospitality network to aid in the development of Citizens culinary markets, creating quality dining experiences for customers around the world,” said Legends CEO Shervin Mirhashemi in the release.
“As well, our partnership with C3 will further expand our in-venue offerings for our partners and their fans, reinforcing our commitment to providing an innovative, customized and delicious culinary experience.”
The Buckhead location will be the first Citizens Market opening, but C3 and Legends are looking to open other locations in Chicago and Miami in 2023, and London in 2024.
By Cathy Cobbs
Four new retail tenants are coming to High Street, a mixed-use district in Perimeter Center.
GID Development, High Street’s developer, announced that Agave Bandido, Cuddlefish, Ben & Jerry’s, and a boutique beauty salon, Sugarcoat, have committed to move into the 36-acre complex, which will open its first phase in 2024.
“With each new tenant, we are thoughtfully crafting a vibrant, amenity-
rich destination that will serve as the town center for Central Perimeter,” said James Linsley, president of GID Development in an announcement released Feb. 1. “From the outset, our focus has been on designing compelling and active public spaces and curating a collection of talented chefs and restaurants at High Street, and we have so much more in store as we move toward 2024.”
The new tenants include Agave Bandido, a South Fla.-based restaurant that is making its first foray into the Atlanta market.
“Given the success we’ve had with our first restaurant in South Florida, it was critical we chose the right location to expand our brand,” said Mathew Baum, founder of Wolverine Management. “High Street presents the perfect opportunity to reach the same upscale, suburban consumers that have allowed us to flourish, so we are thrilled to begin welcoming guests in 2024.”
Cuddlefish, a sushi restaurant with another location in Decatur, is also set to open in High Street. In addition to offering a casual dining, the restaurant owners also have plan to operate a small fish market where customers can purchase kits to make their own rolls at home.
“We know how much people love Japanese cuisine, and we want to elevate their palates with a type of sushi they’ve likely never experienced,” said John Chen and Jason Liang, co-owners of Cuddlefish.
Ben & Jerry’s is also coming to High Street, its second brick-and-mortar store in the Atlanta area. It has another location at Inman Park.
Nail salon Surgarcoat will open its 12th location in the Metro area, the announcement said.
“Our latest group of tenants combined with our other fantastic tenants like Puttshack and Hampton Social have created a very strong foundation for our leasing at High Street,” said Molly Morgan, SVP of retail leasing for JLL’s 10twelve.
High Street is a $2 billion, 36-acre mixed-use and entertainment destination located at the intersection of Perimeter Center Parkway and Hammond Drive in Dunwoody. Its first phase includes 150,000 square feet of retail, 90,000 square feet of new loft office, 600 apartments, and a signature park.
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A rendering of Citizens Market in NYC.
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Google Fiber bringing internet service to Brookhaven
Brookhaven City Attorney Chris Balch.
“[Google has] already begun the engineering and work to put their broadband plans in place. This will actually allow us to start collecting revenues from their subscribers,” said Balch.
Google announced in October 2022 that high-speed internet service was coming to metro Atlanta markets including Buckhead and Brookhaven.
“We are excited to be expanding in the Atlanta metro area,” Google Head of Government and Community Affairs East Region Jess George said. Our team in Atlanta is overjoyed about the progress we’re making, and we’re thrilled to be in Brookhaven.”
By Logan C. Ritchie
Google Fiber is coming back to Brookhaven. A false start in 2015 is now a reality with the internet giant committing to serving the community.
Brookhaven City Council unanimously passed an ordinance in
January to establish an agreement with Google Fiber Georgia LLC for the installation of network facilities in the city’s right-of-way.
Brookhaven would be one of the first cities in Georgia to have a franchise agreement with Google to reinvigorate their broadband plan in the state, said
Residents will receive a door hanger with a hotline number 72 hours before construction begins. Google advised visiting www.google. com/fiber or calling 877454-6959, any time day or night.
The cost for Google fiber ranges from $70 to $100 per month for residential service, and $250 per month for small businesses. Plans include installation, equipment and repairs. The only thing that’s not included is a local tax or local fee.
28 | MARCH 2023 ROUGHDRAFTATLANTA.COM
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A rendering of Citizens Market in NYC.
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Two entrepreneurs put brains together for health startup
Getting to know Parable
While the FDA doesn’t require clinical trials for supplement brands, Parable has made such testing standard practice. The team is also dedicated to changing how we talk about proactive brain care.
“For us, braincare should refer to products and practices rooted in scientific evidence that promote our health for decades. Given that the brain starts to age at 30, it’s really important for us to proactively care for our brain in our 30s, 40s, and 50s. Our brains are fragile and complex organs; to function properly, they have real and specific needs that need to be met,” said Poindexter. “While we may feel it’s typical to care for sleepiness in the morning with some caffeine or alertness at 10 p.m. with melatonin, those practices aren’t actually benefitting our brains for the long term. That need for stimulants or anxiolytics is just a sign of a neglected brain.”
Atlanta’s Health Startup Scene
By Maija Ehlinger
Entrepreneurs Brian McGrath Davis and Cristina Poindexter have both played integral roles in building buzz-worthy consumer products already.
After serving as Director of Business Development for Atlanta-based Scoutmob, Davis went on to be GM for Blakely Ventures, the personal business incubator of SPANX founder Sara Blakely. Poindexter’s career included rising in ranks at Headspace, a popular meditation and self-care app.
But the two both recognized a problem: No one in the startup world was adequately addressing brain health. That was a huge problem, considering that brain atrophy can start as early as your 30s.
“Cristina and I first met in March 2021 as Founders in Residence at a VC firm in Los Angeles, where we were struck by a
very simple observation: As valuable as our brains are, most of us don’t know how to care for them on a daily basis. We spoke to hundreds of consumers to learn more, and it became apparent that the problem to solve was how to make everyday braincare simple and effective,” Davis said.
That led the two to found Parable, an Atlanta-based personal nutrition brand designed specifically for brain health. Its first product, Daily, is a supplement designed to address focus, individual stress response, brain fog, and mental wellbeing. Created by neuroscientists, active ingredients include B vitamins, curcumin, ginseng, green tea extract, lemon balm, and phosphatidylserine. Davis said these are the “key nutrients our brains need to think, feel, and be well.”
The powder can be mixed into hot and cold drinks or put on top of foods.
Parable is launching with the help of a newly announced $2.7 million seed round. California-based M13 and Colorado-based Break Trail Ventures are part of the round.
M13’s portfolio has several consumer health brands that are household names today, including Capsule, Tonal, and ClassPass.
Parable has adopted a remote-first work environment, but Davis is based in Atlanta and Poindexter is building the business from her home in Denver.
Metro Atlanta has an emerging personal
health scene starting to form. Hypepotamus recently covered ModifyHealth, a “food as medicine” meal delivery service that raised a $10 million Series B this January. It is also home to companies like Supersapiens (a glucose monitoring system also cofounded by Davis), and The Lemon Perfect Company (an enhanced-water brand), and women’s wellness supplement brand Semaine Health.
34 | MARCH 2023
Atlanta Intown has partnered with Hypepotamus, the go-to source of startup and technology news in the Southeast. hypepotamus.com
Parable co-founders Brian McGrath Davis and Cristina Poindexter.
THE DUST Y COIN
New apartment high-rise would reshape block of Pharr Road
By Collin Kelley
The Buckhead Development Review Committee looked at plans for a proposed 20-story apartment tower that would reshape of a portion of Pharr Road in Buckhead.
The property located at 321 Pharr in Buckhead Village would also include ground-level retail, restaurant space and a parking garage for 500 vehicles.
No affordable housing is included in the 400-unit proposal, according to representatives from Tidal Real Estate Partners. However, one unit would be
reserved for a Zone 2 Atlanta Police officer who wants to live onsite through a subsidy program.
The site between Grandview Avenue and N. Fulton Drive is currently home to the Pharr Road Emporium shopping center. The Chevron gas station at the corner of Pharr and Grandview would remain.
Members of the Development Review Committee said at its February meeting the plan is still working its way through the NPU and city and reserved recommendations for a future meeting.
Sandy Springs eyeing City Springs expansion
By Bob Pepalis
Sandy Springs City Council will choose one of five master developers to extend the City Springs campus.
The approximately four acres of property includes 108 city-owned parking spaces, vacant land, a temporary fleet facility for city vehicles, and a small building that serves as a gym for the Sandy Springs Police Department.
Plans for the property included mixeduse development, including a boutique hotel, office, retail, and residential components, with a preference for owneroccupied housing, according to the request for proposals.
The city received five proposals and all were found to be in compliance with the city’s process and qualified to move forward to the second phase, City Manager Eden Freeman said during a special called City Council meeting on Jan. 23. firms include:
■ The Atlantic Companies
■ Mid City Real Estate Partners with ASD|SKY
■ Mill Creek Residential Trust with Westbridge
■ Regent Partners with Morris and Fellows
■ RocaPoint Partners and The Georgetown Co.
“I’m very excited that we’re encouraging their creativity. So they are well aware that we are open to rezoning,” Councilmember Jody Reichel said.
Freeman said once the city receives the proposals and makes its choice of partners if the selected firm asked for rezoning staff would then bring it forward. The proposals will have comprehensive layouts of what they plan and will have detailed concepts about what they want to produce, including financial performance, she said.
Freeman said staff expects to bring a recommendation of a master developer in April.
MARCH 2023 | 35 ROUGHDRAFTATLANTA.COM
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Renderings of Trammell Crow’s proposed Pharr Road apartment tower.
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