Atlanta City Council approves new SPI-25 zoning rules to restrict new development in Tuxedo Park

The Atlanta City Council voted March 20, 2023 to put into place rigorous restrictions on new development in the Tuxedo Park neighborhood, capping a multi-decade effort by some to preserve the area’s “park-like” character. The City Council approved the creation of a Special Interest District (SPI-25) with its vote following a recommendation of approval for the regulations by the Atlanta Zoning Review Board (ZRB) and NPU-A earlier this month, and the City’s Historic Preservation Office deeming Tuxedo Park a historic neighborhood in 2020.

The SPI mandates that new subdivisions or developments within Tuxedo Park will follow the area’s “historic pattern” on lots and house placement, specifically, maintaining existing patterns of “long, rectangular lots with straight side lot lines” and “deep setbacks.” The regulations prohibit new subdivisions from creating new public streets, impose lot width restrictions, mandate that all new lots conform to the range of lot depths by other properties on the same side of the street, and that no new lots will be created “unless it contains a depth that is at least twice the length of its width.” The SPI also establishes setback requirements, most notably that all new lots include a front yard setback equal to “one-half of the lot depth,” effectively limiting improvements or construction to the back half of the lot.

The rezoning was spearheaded by Atlanta City Councilwoman Mary Norwood, who said at the March 9 ZRB meeting the legislation provides important protection for Tuxedo Park’s “park-like” character. The passage of this legislation has the potential to affect all Atlantans, if the idea of rezoning neighborhood-by-neighborhood takes hold.

“The most important characteristic in this neighborhood are the deep lots and thoughtful placement of residences,” Norwood told the ZRB.

Tuxedo Park History

Tuxedo Park’s historic nature dates to its informal creation in the early 1900s as a neighborhood for wealthy Atlantans in which homes were first built along West Paces Ferry Road, usually summer or country estates that featured residences built far back from the street — a theme the SPI aims to continue. The neighborhood continues to be one of the wealthiest and most desirable in Buckhead. The Tuxedo Park Civic Association, which spoke in favor of the SPI at the March 9 ZRB meeting, wasfounded to “protect the character, integrity, quality of life, and security” of the neighborhood.

Tuxedo Park was considered for historical designation in 1990, but that effort never came to fruition. As such, Tuxedo Park’s century-long history has recently included plenty of jousting over future development of the area between developers and neighbors.

In 2018, the “Pink Palace” property on West Paces Ferry Road was subdivided into three lots, which spurred many members of the neighborhood to begin fighting against what they considered to be undesirable development of the area. In 2020, the opponents of redevelopment celebrated a win when Tuxedo Park earned “historic neighborhood” status through the City of Atlanta Office of Design’s Historic Preservation Studio. That designation quelled an attempt to subdivide a 3.4-acre property on Tuxedo Road, which had been staunchly opposed by Norwood and an organized group of neighbors.

Response to recent concerns

The recently rejected subdivision at Tuxedo Road and Woodhaven Road. Photo by Rob Knight

Most recently, a request by Benecki Homes to subdivide a 2.7-acre property along Tuxedo Road and Woodhaven Road— which included an existing home — for the development of two homes caused ire among neighbors. Community members voted 58-1 to oppose the plan during an NPU meeting. But because the proposal complied with local zoning requirements, it appeared primed for eventual approval. The fight was not over, however, as neighbors appealed to the Historic Preservation Studio, which determined in January the subdivision was to be rejected because the proposed lots would not be “long” enough to conform with the area’s traditional design and layout.

The close calls for neighbors opposed to redevelopment of Tuxedo Park spurred the creation of the rezoning. With its passage, hard lines are now set on new development in the neighborhood, and the stringent regulations will thus make it far more difficult to subdivide properties or redevelop lots.

“SPI-25 specifies that new subdivisions will follow the neighborhood’s historic pattern of lot plating and house placement; thus, codifying the City’s Historic Preservation Office’s 2020 determination of this neighborhood as an historic neighborhood,” a City Council press release stated.

While future redevelopment proposals within Tuxedo Park are likely given its history and standing among Atlanta neighborhoods, neighbors now have the backing of the SPI to maintain the area’s character.

“I am so pleased to have the unanimous support of my Council colleagues and the City’s administration for this important legislation,” Norwood said.

Following is the text of the approved legislation:


Section 1: That the Atlanta Zoning Ordinance is hereby amended by adding a new Chapter 18Y, SPI25, Tuxedo Park Special Public Interest District Regulations which shall read as shown on the attached “Exhibit A”.

Section 2: That the Official Zoning Map of the City of Atlanta is hereby amended by changing the designation of all those properties located within the Tuxedo Park Special Public Interest District so as to add SPI-25 to the District Designation. Said District shall be as shown on the attached “Exhibit B”. That the maps referred to, now on file in the Office of the Municipal Clerk, be changed to conform with the terms of this ordinance.

Section 3: That all ordinances or parts of ordinances that conflict with the terms of this ordinance are waived to the extent of the conflict.


Sec. 16-18Y.001. – Scope of Provisions.

The regulations set forth in this chapter, or set forth elsewhere in this part, when referred to in this chapter, are the regulations in the SPI-25 Tuxedo Park Neighborhood District. Whenever the following regulations conflict with provisions of Part III Code of Ordinances – Land Development Code Part 15 – Land Subdivision Ordinance or Part 16 – Atlanta Zoning Ordinance, the more stringent regulation shall apply.

Sec. 16-18Y.002. – Statement of Intent. The intent of this chapter is establishing the SPI-25 Tuxedo Park Neighborhood District is as follows:

  1. To preserve and protect existing general landscaping features, existing spatial relationships between the buildings and streets;
  2. To ensure that redevelopment reflects and reinforces the exceptional park-like features established in the original planning of Tuxedo Park;
  3. To conform to the distinguishing feature of the long, rectangular lots and deep setbacks of the residences; and
  4. Maintain the spatial organization of open space in front of existing residences.

Sec. 16-18Y.003. – Regulations.

1. Subdivision Requirements.

a. The Tuxedo Park neighborhood, as defined by the City of Atlanta, shall be considered a historic neighborhood for the purposes of Part 15 of the Land Subdivision Ordinance. All subdivisions within this district shall not be subject to Sec. 15-08.002(a)(2) and Sec. 15-008(5)(d) of the Land Subdivision Ordinance, but shall meet the following requirements in addition to all other requirements of the Land Subdivision Ordinance:

  • i. New subdivisions shall not create new public streets.
  • ii. All new lots shall be no wider than the widest lot on the same side of the street between the two closest intersections.
  • iii. All new lots zoned R-3 shall be no narrower than the narrowest lot on the same side of the street between the two closest intersections, or 100’, whichever is greater.
  • iv. All new lots zoned R-2 shall be no narrower than the narrowest lot on the same side of the street between the two closest intersections, or 150’, whichever is greater.
  • v. All new lots shall conform to the range of lot depths established by the lots on the same side of the street between the two closest intersections. However, no new lot shall be created unless it contains a depth that is at least twice the length of its width;

b. All new lots shall be oriented so that the shortest side of the lot faces the street.

2. Development controls.

a. Setbacks:

  • i. All new lots shall contain a front yard setback that is equal to one-half of the lot depth.
  • ii. All new corner lots shall contain a half-depth front yard setback that is equal to one-quarter of the lot depth.

Featured properties

Click here or on any of the homes below to see the best homes for sale and coming soon to the market in Buckhead. Featured properties are brought you by Buckhead’s top real estate broker, Ben Hirsh.