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A few more thoughts

March 31, 2011 1 comment

New Home Construction

If you have driven down River Rd lately you may have noticed signs advertising new homes for sale. Apparently the economy has come back with such a roar that the last bit of land cleared before the recession  is back in business to sell you a new home. Now, unlike in the housing boom where they put houses up without a buyer in sight, it seems the builder is only going to build if there is a buyer in hand. The prices came down from 180-200’s to the 140’s. I find it hard to believe that a builder out there can get financing to build again especially in an area that was hit pretty hard with foreclosures and where costs of existing homes are half of what they are asking for these new homes. I hope they do well, because it would be a great sign that maybe things are once again on the upswing.

A new school Superintendent?

It seems the board and its consulting firm has given us three candidates to take over for the indicted and disgraced Crawford Lewis. The three candidates are scheduled to do a dog and pony for the public on Thursday. By now you know their names and their credentials and probably more. I went to the local media sites where all three live just to get a feel for how the media and the public views them. At this point it is a two-woman race from my vantage point. Mr. Culver has some issues that are not deal breakers, but at this point DeKalb schools do not need a polarizing or slightly dinged figure to come in and takeover. It will just add to the mistrust and lack of faith that the general public has in the school system. That leaves the other two candidates. The superintendent from North Carolina, Lillie Cox,  would be the boldest move. I am not buying the argument that she comes from a small district. If you can lead a few successfully, then you should be able to lead many. Apparently she is beloved in her present job, and some are mad that she is considering leaving.  But I doubt she is going to make the cut with the public or enough board members. Then there is Dr. Gloria Davis from Decatur Illinois. She will probably land this job because she is the safe pick that will cause the least amount of criticism. It is still early in the process. I hope the board and the consulting firm did their homework. I would hate to have someone hired and then find out they plagiarized their Doctoral Thesis.


School Board Takeover?

I found this poll on former mayor Shirley Franklins blog. When asked if they supported a takeover of the school board by a mayor or county commision, a mjority of voters agreed.

The survey of 595 metropolitan Atlanta voters commission by Blogging While Blue about various issues reveals that 54% of voters support school takeovers while only 30% oppose them.

While I would agree that if a board has become so dysfunctional someone needs to step in, I would rather see the requirements for becoming a board member increased. I cannot fathom someone who does not have a college degree serving on a school board. Having a conviction involving children or a felony should be an automatic disqualification. I would like to see more highly qualified professional men and women seek school board positions, not people who want to use it as a stepping stone to some other public office.

And Finally,

I am sort of neutral on where libraries fit into our digital culture, but I must say that I was totally impressed with twelve year old Sekondi Landry. Young Mr. Landry was not to happy that the Scott-Candler Library on McAfee was slated to close. So He decided to start a petition to save his library. Now I don’t know for sure that it was his petition alone that saved the library, but it made me feel all good inside to see a twelve year old get out and fight for something he believes in. Too many times our kids fight for the wrong cause. This kid was on the right side of a good cause. Things like that makes even a pessimist like me think there is hope down the road.

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South DeKalb failing like parts of Atlanta did 20 years ago

December 13, 2010 6 comments

Is South DeKalb the Atlanta of 20 years ago?

I have been in Atlanta for nearly 23 years save a six year stint in the service, when Atlanta became a destination more so than home to me. When I left the military, Atlanta metro was a natural choice for me. I was young Enthusiastic and ambitious. My new bride and I settled on Memorial Drive in the mid-90’s. The glory of Memorial had been gone for a while, but it was still an OK place. We both were on the cusp of finishing up college and planned for a better life in the future. As our careers started moving forward so did our desires for a better place to live. We moved to an apartment in the Emory area that was close to my wife’s job, and allowed me easy access to MARTA, after all we had only one vehicle at the time and we had to stay near MARTA. We enjoyed our time there, but longed for a house with a yard for kids and a dog and some privacy. We looked in the Emory area( too expensive), we looked in Douglas(too far out), Cobb(Couldn’t see it) and DeKalb. DeKalb was a nice mix. It was not too far away from the things we liked to do. It had a nice mix of social strata, and it seemed a great balance between city and suburb. We settled on South DeKalb for many reasons, but price and proximity to my mother-in-law led the Way. We wer young and Idealistic at the time. We had no kids so we didn’t even think about schools. We thought we would buy this house, do some work on it and try to sell it after 5 or so years. that was the plan. Had we known in advance that we were moving into what was going to be a massacre of foreclosures, we would have stayed in our cozy little apartment, but hindsight is always 20/20. Now some seven years later, South DeKalb, has become home. My wife has several family members in South DeKalb, and we love the proximity to Stonecrest, Downtown, and Decatur. The problem is that there is nothing for us in South Dekalb outside of family and our home. It has made us think whether or not we should hold out for an eventual resurgence or if we should cut our losses and abandon South DeKalb. For those who have been in Atlanta for a long time, you can see the resurgence that happens when capital and desire flows into an area. East Lake and Kirkwood were horrible places to be in the 80’s. Now one is a model for resurgence and the other is a go to destination for entertainment and living. East Atlanta, and even Grant Park were areas where people avoided. Now they are hot properties. Glenwood Park, Edgewood, the list goes on and on. So I have to ask myself, will the same resurgence happen here. I look at South DeKalb mall and think to myself what a great location. It is less than a ten mile drive to downtown. It is a straight shot to downtown Decatur, and even Stonecrest is an easy drive. It sits between two interstates and has quick access to the airport. It is a very walkable area because of the density of the homes and businesses in the corridor. Yet it is suffering, with little relief in sight. I cannot think of any major redevelopment in the Candler corridor in more than ten years. South Dekalb mall has had makeovers, possibly to it’s detriment, but the areas around the mall are third rate at best. No quality entertainment. No quality dining. Nothing that says this can be the next happening place in the metro. Leadership at the county and community level needs to step up. South DeKalb needs to shape an identity. Be it entertainment, specialty shopping, or even a sporting destination. Land prices there are be ripe for redevelopment when the economy turns the corner. County leadership and community leaders should be prepared to jump on the opportunity when it arrives. If we all sit back and wait, then South Dekalb will be Atlanta all over again. I Hope to see a resurgence soon, because I do not know how much longer I can hold on. And I am sure there are many who think similar to me on this issue.

 

Neglected South DeKalb gets a voice, maybe

August 31, 2010 Comments off

CrossRoadsNews – Now can South DeKalb and Stonecrest get an ear.

Great article from Crossroads. To answer their statement, I hope the answer is Yes, though I doubt it. The GM site has been called a developers dream, with its access to two interstates and MARTA. Right now, developers are probably hedging, but when the economy turns the corner for good they will beat a path to the former plant. Unlike Stonecrest, and all of South DeKalb the GM site sits within what I like to refer to as the golden triangle. The area that forms the triangle that starts at the tip of buckhead, and goes out along interstates 75 and 85, with the top extending across Gwinnett, North Fulton, and Cobb Counties, a sort of inverted triangle if you may. Within this triangle is where most quality development takes place. The rest of us with a few exceptions (Midtown, City of Decatur) are left to fend for ourselves. We have to endure development of a lesser value (strip malls, gas stations with a couple of retail strores attached) that generates little tax income for the county, and provides little in the way of jobs or civic pride for those of us who live outside the triangle. The article in Crossroads makes some good points with respect to land costs, and interstate access and available infrastructure in and around South DeKalb which could be a developers dream. They also bring the county to task for not maintaining what could be one of the county’s crown jewels. I am glad that they have put a spotlight on an issue that has been around for quite sometime. I also hope that the county leadership is listening. It is time to bring quality development to South DeKalb.

Categories: development, Society

Would convention center work in Lithonia?

July 19, 2010 Comments off

According to commissioner May, a convention center makes sense for the Stonecrest area. According to this article in the AJC, Commissioner May would like to see a convention center type complex with an amphitheater, and a full service hotel. His idea would build this complex with private investment dollars and no tax dollars. On Commissioner May’s website is a PDF showing the possible location of a civic center. I like his idea of a convention/civic center in the Stonecrest area just not right now. Right now Stonecrest could use any boost as it is suffering due to the general decline of our local and national economies. But I wonder if a convention center in what is basically a retail area with nothing more than chain restaurants, chain retail stores and a theatre is what is needed right now. I think what is needed for Stonecrest is more commercial development that would bring people and jobs to the area for more than just shopping. Because of its location, Stonecrest could be like its counterparts at Perimeter and Northlake. Right now, there are no other major mall developments anywhere nearby. With a push at getting commercial and corporate relocations through incentives like tax breaks, the entire area could stabilize and the retail would see a rebound. Add to that a mix of multi-family, and single family housing as well as more entertainment options, and you would have a major destination not only for  locals in the east metro, but also travelers who want to stay the night on their way to destinations to the east or west. Bringing in more commercial businesses, and adding more housing would then make a civic center work. Right now, Stonecrest isn’t ready but with a little work, the pump would be primed for an explosion of growth with little impact on citizens.