Residents of Grant Estates still hope to convince someone to stop an entrance on West Paces Ferry Road where Regions Bank plans a branch. But the financial institution bought the property in part because it had that entrance and another on East Andrews Drive already approved by the city of Atlanta.
Graham Loomis was one of approximately 60 residents who took part in a rush hour picket line protest on Tuesday. He said the neighborhood association had discussions with the property developer about building apartment homes on part of the original property once. The property, once owned by the Grant family, was the site of The Ivy's, another multifamily development. During the discussion it was mentioned that the future Regions Bank site was likely to be sold to a bank, but no discussion of the second driveway curb cut was made.
"It wasn't until April of this year when we learned the property had been sold to Regions," Loomis said.
"It is important for all of the Buckhead neighbors to understand that when we purchased the property, a curb cut on West Paces Ferry Road was already approved and the parcel was zoned for a bank branch," said Evelyn Mitchell, a spokesperson for Regions Financial. "Since that time, based on the recommendation of the Neighborhood Planning Unit, the access point on West Paces Ferry Road has been altered from a full, traffic light-controlled intersection to a right-turn-in, right-turn-out only in order to optimize traffic flow."
Rather than a small building, what is planned is a branch with five drive through bays and that unwanted West Paces Ferry entrance. Loomis said the curb cut is still too close to the entrance to Grant Estates at Valley Drive. The short distance and limited sight distance for the turns creates a safety issue, he said.
"We are aware of the concerns about our planned bank branch and office and we have met with neighborhood representatives to discuss those concerns," Region's Mitchell said in her email response to questions.
Loomis confirmed he and another Grant Estates representative met with William Linginfelter, executive vice aresident, area president, Georgia/South Carolina for Regions. They let Linginfelter know the Grant Estates residents didn't oppose a bank on that lot. They just don't want the West Paces Ferry Road driveway. They weren't too happy hearing trees along the road were coming down either.
"I think it ruins the residential appeal of the neighborhood and makes it look much more commercial," Loomis said.
The West Paces Ferry Road driveway surprised members of the Buckhead Coalition of Neighborhoods when Grant Estates met with them to let them know a picket line would be organized on Oct. 15, he said.
Loomis figures the picket line was a success in letting more residents who live in neighborhoods farther down West Paces Ferry know about the issue.
The neighborhood association has even created a Facebook page about the issue.