Panola Slope Resort Plans and July 26 Minutes

Panola Slope – Plans to Redevelop as a Resort
APD Solutions CEO Vaughn Irons and Business Manager Chapman Walsh presented information to the GHHCDC on the redevelopment plans for Panola Slope at 5600 Covington Highway (near Young Road) July 26.

Panola Resort PlansThis is the townhome community that used to be Dominique’s. APD bought it in 2011 and put $5 million into improvements. It offered 23 townhomes and space for retail. Unfortunately, only four units sold, and the future for this concept does not look promising.

APD Solutions wants to turn the project into a destination resort with entertainment and meeting space. The 23 villas would be converted into 72 sleeping rooms. A welcome center would be added. Mr. Irons said the firm plans to invest abother$26 million in the property.

On the ground floor, there would be 31,359 square feet of commercial space. In this space, APD Solutions would offer virtual reality games, live experience (virtual reality) simulators, amusement machines, and two upscale restaurants. Some of the entertainment would allow the consumer to accumulate points for prizes, meals, or other experiences at the resort. The restaurants would be owned and operated by APD Solutions. One, an upscale, white linen tablecloth steakhouse, would be named Bernard’s, after Mr. Vaughn’s late father.

There would be four retail stores with unique merchandise, owned and operated by APD Solutions.

The greenspace that runs parallel to Covington would include a covered, small amphitheater for outdoor events.

The plan will require a zoning change to C-1 (currently OCR-mixed use), and a Special Land Use Permit hearing. The first hearing is tentatively set for Aug. 18, 6:30 p.m. at the Community Council meeting, usually at Redan-Trotti Library.

If any other general information, community meetings are scheduled, the firm promised to let us know.


Minutes of the July 26 Meeting

Greater Hidden Hills Community Development Corporation (GHHCDC) Meeting
Mainstreet Community Center, July 26, 2014, 10 a.m. -10:50 a.m.

Attending: Jan Costello, Nadine Rivers-Johnson, Phyllis Frierson, Charlene Taylor, Pauline Dailey


11:00 – 1:00 Meeting with APD Solutions regarding redevelopment plans for Panola Slope

Attending: all of the above and Obert Jordon, Diane Parks, Larry Coles, Lois Dunlap, Lowell Magee

We had an efficient board meeting.

Treasurer’s Report
Phyllis Frierson reported that we have $268.22 in the bank. We received membership payments from Mainstreet Community, Muirfield Community, and Marian Long.

At the meeting, we received additional dues from Scarbrough Community and Gerald &Pauline Dailey.

Thank you!!!!

Charlene is going to contact other neighborhood associations and ask them to join.

 Plans for a meeting with businesses at Redan/Hairston and Redan/Panola.
Nadine is going to help Wendell work on this. We’ve been following up with the Kroger contact, but so far, she has not been able to respond. Nadine will get the phone contact for the shopping center on the NE side of Redan/Hairston. She will contact Mr. Sharma (owner of two corners at Redan/Panola).

The plan is to let them know what the GHHCDC is trying to do.

We will also show them how improving curb appeal and storefront décor can increase business. Charlene Taylor plans to work on a brochure that will help them visualize the improved conditions. Please send pictures to Char ( and GHHCDC. This brochure would also include the design guidelines that are part of the overlay code.

501(c)(3) – Nadine will check with Jerome Chavis about a meeting on Aug. 4 or 11 at 6:30. We would like to give him an update on the filing of Form 990 (Joyce); the one-year and five-year projection of accomplishments (Nadine); and the narrative explaining who we are and how we evolved (Jan).


The biographies of the board members is posted on the website.

We have a phone number: 508 591-3526
This number will allow callers to leave a message. It is linked to Phyllis Frierson’s email, and she will monitor the calls. Please call the number periodically so that it stays active.

The business cards and checks are going to be done (I promise – Jan)


Aging-in-Place concept
We discussed the tour to Columbia Heritage. It gave us a lot of good ideas. Our next step is to visit more communities, meet with Community Development, and meet with some of Columbia Residential’s nonprofit partners. Nadine is going to find out about a community in Peachtree City that we might tour. Jan will incquire about Park Place in Stone Mountain. We should also drive by the Columbia property being built on Columbia near Memorial.


Our next Board meeting is Aug. 23, 10 a.m., at Mainstreet.


Community Development Update

The Greater Hidden Hills Community Development Corporation will hold its monthly board meeting at 10 a.m. July 26. Promptly at 11, we will hear an update from APD Solutions on its plans for Panola Slope, the townhome development on Covington Highway near Young Road. You are welcome to attend the meeting. It is at Mainstreet Community Center, 5001 Mainstreet Park Dr., Stone Mountain, GA 30088.


Updates on Community Development Effort

Liquor Store – Improvements have begun. The owner of PJs Package store is willing to make improvements to his property, and the shopping center owner has already begun to improve the entire lot. The sidewalk has been pressure washed and steps have been added to make it easier to cross from the upper parking deck to the lower level.

PJs Edit

We went before the Board of Commissions July 22 for the Special Land Use Permit hearing on enlarging PJs. After giving the Board the improvement list that we agreed on, the Board deferred the vote for two weeks. The Planning Staff is making minor adjustments to the list and including it in the legal petition. The next (and probably last) meeting on this matter will be August 5.


There will be landscape improvements, additional security coverage, four garbage receptacles, and exterior painting.



Imagining Ways to Retrofit the Closed Golf Course

One of the concepts we have considered as a way to re-purpose the closed Hidden Hills golf course is to provide housing for seniors in the center of the property. The overlay zone allows that area to have higher density (something that would make it attractive to developers) IF the links are kept as greenspace, to be used for passive recreation.


We had the opportunrsz_columbia_heritage_-_porte_cochere-1_0ity to visit a beautiful, four-story senior living community in northwest Atlanta last Saturday. Columbia Heritage is part of the West Highlands neighborhood that was built on the site of the dilapidated and depressing Perry Homes public housing project 10 years ago.


Talk about an amazing transformation! The seniors live in a clean, well-appointed building, with a theatre, fitness center, business center, library, craft room, and all-purpose room. They have two-bedroom apartments with nine-foot ceilings and many thoughtful architectural details. The center has been open for 10 years, and it has long waiting lists. The building is well maintained by staff and by residents.


The residents have varying income levels, but they all enjoy the same high quality standard of living. Says Columbia Residential, Inc., CEO Noel Khali, “We have mixed incomes, but we do not have mixed standards.”

photo - crop

We plan to visit other communities to see what might work well in our area.


(The following people attended the tour: Jan Costello, Frankie Bryson, Larry Coles, Phyllis Frierson, Calvin Sims, John Sims, Sally O’Harrow, and Charlene Taylor. We represented the GHHCDC, Hidden Hills, The Highlands, Scarbrough Square, Mainstreet, and Chapman’s Mill/Redan Park).



From: Jan Costello, President Greater Hidden Hills Community Development Association
July 25, 2014

To see the file with photos, click on this link:
Middle Photo by Columbia Residential, Inc.

Liquor Store-some improvements

We made some progress on the liquor store expansion issue.

Three members of the Greater Hidden Hills Community Development Corporation attended a meeting July 17 with the owner of the liquor store, Tony Nguyen; the shopping center owner, Ricky Sharma; and the store’s engineer, George Awuku on July 17. The GHHCDC was represented by Jan Costello, president, Nadine Rivers-Johnson, board member , and Wendall Ervin, member. It was a good opportunity to express our points of view. We worked out improvements to the plan.

This is what they agreed to do during the meeting:

1. Implement the landscape improvements noted on the 7/15 pdf from El Mina, Inc. This includes new plantings of trees (four) and shrubs in three areas.

2. Add security coverage on Sunday, during the hours PJs is open.

3. Pressure wash the sidewalk

4. Add garbage canisters in at least four places where they would be most utilized.

5. Provide a clear pathway from the upper parking deck to the business strip.

6. Paint the exterior.

We made other suggestions such as clearing the sidewalk of obstacles and reviewing the overlay design guidelines. We invited them to become members of the GHHCDC. We all are united in a common vision to make the area aesthetically pleasing and prosperous.

This was the first time we have had face-to-face contact with the shopping center owner. He has owned both the NW and NE corners at Redan and Panola for 15 years. Mr. Sharma is interested in improving the appeal of the commercial space. He is working with MARTA to install a bus shelter at the bus stop on Panola near the Chevron station, which he owns.

It is unlikely that the expansion request will be denied because the planning staff, the Community Council, and the Planning Commission have approved it. On July 22, it goes before the Board of Commissioners, at 6:30, in the Maloof Auditorium (1300 Commerce Dr.) My opinion is to accept the expansion as long as these conditions are attached to it. I believe that we can continue to build on this relationship and do more to improve that part of the community.

You are welcome to respond to this post or write us at I would like to know what you think.

Jan Costello
President, GHHCDC

GHHCDC@gmail.comSketch Plan-liquor store

Liquor Store Expansion Update — Community Opposition Does Not Sway Planning Commission

The Planning Commission reviewed PJs Package Store’s request to add 1,530 square feet to its establishment on July 8. Despite Greater Hidden Hills CDC objections, it recommended approval. Now, the matter will go before the Board of Commissioners, July 22, 6:30 p.m.

The store is on the northwest corner of Panola Road and Redan Road. It wants to increase its square footage by 56%, going from 2,800 square feet to 4,330 square feet.

This means that three of the six storefronts in the strip mall would be occupied by the liquor store. Note that one of the other tenants (the Chevron gas station/convenience store), also sells liquor. (Sketch map attached.)

The Greater Hidden Hills Community Development Corporation opposes this expansion. Our overlay zoning code is designed to promote and encourage a healthy, prosperous, diverse array of businesses. We have many unmet needs in this community, forcing us to drive many miles to purchase the materials, services, and experiences that we want. Liquor stores are NOT among our unmet needs.

We have a surplus of liquor stores. Within a 20-minute drive from the center of the Hidden Hills Overlay District (roughly the center of the closed golf course), there are 62 beer, wine and liquor stores.

When you add the other types of stores that sell bottled alcohol, such as grocery stores, gasoline stations, and convenience stores, we find that we have close to 600 places where one can buy packaged alcohol within a 20-minute drive of our center. (Numbers from ESRI Business Data, 2013.)

I talked to some of those who voted in favor of the expansion. These respected members of the Community Council, DeKalb County Planning Department, and the Planning Commission have several reasons for their position. Here are the reasons I have heard:

  • The business is already there, and there are legal reasons why the County cannot deny it the opportunity to expand.
  • The business is in a cramped location, so expansion will make the strip feel less congested.
  • The business will be better able to thrive if it expands.
  • The community should make an effort to support small businesses in the community.

The owner of the liquor store is interested in meeting conditions to make the expansion more palatable. I will share those plans with you when I get them.

As we move forward to the final public hearing, we ask for your opinion and input. You can respond to this post or write to us at


Jan Costello
President, Greater Hidden Hills CDC

Sketch Plan-liquor store

Great Ideas Came Out of the June Meeting!

More than 30 people attended the June 24 Greater Hidden Hills Community Development Corporation (GHHCDC) meeting on creating a dynamic business community. DeKalb County Interim CEO Lee May opened the meeting with praise and encouragement. He has been involved and supportive of our efforts since we first began the overlay zoning process in 2006. 

Double click this link to see pictures, hear what Tucker volunteers had to say, and read the list of great ideas:CEO May w-Group-edit

Dynamic Business Meeting-See Results