Posts Tagged ‘development’

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.


This is what happens when local control is given to residents

September 9, 2010 Comments off

Dunwoody: How a new city is finding its way  |

I am putting myself on the record as being an advocate of all areas of DeKalb incorporating into separate entities especially South DeKalb. I am not in favor of the entire unincorporated areas gaining city-hood. Incorporation and annexation of specific areas gives people better control of issues that are most pressing to them. The problem with the present unincorporated areas is that there are 600 thousand plus people who have no local say as to what happens in the areas in which they live. Take for example a recent board decision to allow a gas station to be built on Covington Highway near Redan Rd. Of seven commissioners, two voted against it. the other five gave approval for an 8th gas station between there and Wesley Chapel Road, a scant 2.5 miles. This was approved, because those who voted in favor know nothing of the area that they make crucial decisions for. Residents don’t need that many gas stations or liquor stores or any other eyesore establishments that do more harm than good. If that area were incorporated as part of a larger city, then you would have people representing the area who know the area and care about how many businesses of a particular type opens up. This is one reason why Dunwoody left the county, more local control over their daily lives. The citizens are happier, and much better off.

Late night musings

August 25, 2010 Comments off

No public cash for private developers

Connie Stokes and Kathie Gannon reportedly were the only two commissioners to vote in favor of the GM site redevelopment plan. What baffles me is that the entire commission was dead set against raising taxes to cover budget shortfalls, funding of public safety and infrastructure projects but were in favor of a tax increase to take what amounts to a gamble that if lost, the taxpayers would be stuck with the bill. I know the increase was minimal, but it is about principles. If you are willing to raise taxes to fund a private developer, why not raise taxes to fund items that make the county work. As for the 9,000 jobs this thing was going to create, I wonder how many would actually go to DeKalb or Doraville residents. If this thing was funded by private dollars, and the infrastructure could be paid for with out a tax increase, then this thing would have been a no-brainer. This would have turned into DeKalb’s version of the federal stimulus plan.

Not Surprised by nail salon manager

A store, no a nail salon in Lithonia charges a lady an extra 5 bucks because, in their opinion, she is too heavy for their chairs. Michelle Fonville was shocked and almost at tears according to her when she was told she would have to incur an overweight surcharge. Add to that a manager who basically told Fonville eff you, it costs me 2500 dollars to fix my chair because you sat down and broke it. The salon manger told Fonville to take her business elsewhere and even said that had she seen Fonville before she sat down, she would have refused to serve her based on her weight. all this on local TV no less. This does not surprise me at all. Stores like these consistently berate, and belittle the very people who keep them in business. This nail salon manager knows that her business will not suffer any ill-effects of this bad PR. It will be forgotten Thursday, and she will have a packed house on Friday evening. I personally will not give my cash to a store that berates or denigrates it’s customers. This should be a wake-up call. If they treat you like crap and you continue to give them money, what does that say about you. see video of Fonville here.

Hush Money??

DeKalb just can’t seem to stay out of the AJC’s line of fire. After the county rejected using pubic dollars to finance a private project, here’s this. The AJC reported tonight that former communications director Shelia Edwards (she accused NJ police of murder in the death of a friend) is getting a 46k severance to keep her mouth shut. I know these things are typical, even my company did it, but it seems odd they would give her severance and include phrases like not disparage the county, or not sue the county. Tells me she knows stuff that could at the very least embarrass some folks.

A quick note on Dekalb schools.

I talked with a teacher at a school that was recently built under the direction Crawford Lewis, Patricia Pope and others. This teacher told me the school is in terrible shape. Door knobs not working, ceiling tiles falling onto the floor, and leaky ceilings among other things. She told me that she can’t believe that all of the money earmarked for the school construction actually made it there. She told me plainly that she thinks Pope her husband and others took advantage of the school system and should be made to pay. That comes from a teacher who has a couple of decades in the profession. Also, attorneys for Dr. Lewis asked for a change of venue. They say the will be unable to get a fair hearing in DeKalb. If you are guilty, that evidence will follow you wherever you go. A change of venue will not change that.

Lastly, I have to weigh in on this mosque thing that seems to be captivating everyone. I do not believe that this is about reverence for a site that saw the deaths of 3000 people. There is nor reverence here. On the site will rise another structure praising the glory of capitalism. If it was a place to be revered, it would be more like the memorial at Pearl Harbor. In the end this is about hatred of all things Islam, after all it was the religion of Islam that caused the deaths 0f 3000 innocent souls. The idea of government not promoting or sponsoring any particular religion really means that Judeo-Christian principles rule the day, minus the Judeo part. These men and women, being citizens of the United States, have every right to build their place of worship wherever the choose, so long as it meets existing laws/ordinances, and does not infringe upon the rights of those around them.

Commission should vote against GM funding plan

August 23, 2010 Comments off

The following came from a post at Heneghan’s Dunwoody Blog: Taxpayers Can’t Afford to Subsidize another Atlantic Station by DeKalb Commissioner Elaine Boyer.

Drive into the suburbs or virtually anywhere in the Atlanta region and there are empty storefronts, shopping centers, apartment complexes and office buildings, thanks to this Great Recession. The last thing we need to do is use taxpayer money to add to the supply. Economics revolves around supply and demand. For the Atlanta economy to rebound to a sustainable condition, government must get out of the way and let market forces align so it can recover on its own. The economist Friedman was also quoted as saying: “Governments never learn. Only people learn.” Let’s hope this worst recession since the Great Depression will teach elected officials a lesson. Let taxpayers keep more of their own money.Boyer, a Republican, represents District 1 on the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners which includes Doraville and the site of the General Motors plant.

If the commissioner who represents the area thinks this is a bad idea, then the rest of the commission should take a hard look before going forward. I don’t want to be on the hook for this thing some thirty years down the road. If the county is going to receive this stimulus money, look at more longterm projects that will benefit all residents like sewer upgrades, or road improvements. Oh, and by the way, she is so right, there are too many empty store fronts in DeKalb right now. Why add to the glut especially in this anemic economy.

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.

What the economy has done to one South DeKalb neighborhood

May 19, 2010 Comments off

Driving through Belvedere Park recently gave me a true perspective on the real estate crisis that has steamrolled South DeKalb. I drove down streets that had two or three houses in a row boarded up and overgrown with weeds. On streets that routinely fill up with homeowners or renters, were desolate tracts of land and homes that had been abandoned by so many. as I ducked in and out of streets, empty homes became the norm. Even Knollwood Elementary school looked somehwat abandoned. When I drive around my own neighborhood, I complain because people do not cut their grass, or maintain their homes. They treat their homes as an afterthought to their cars or clothing. But driving through Belvedere I realized that things could be much worse. It was sad to ride through streets that I was familiar with and watch them die right before my eyes. I used to have friends and family that lived in the area, but they have long fled for the distant suburbs south and east of the city. I know when the economy rebounds, areas like Belvedere will probably never recover or at best stay where they are today while more exclusive areas will rebound and prosper. Areas like Belvedere will become the dumping ground for renters and those who make it a point to destroy neighborhoods. The little brick homes will fall into a state of disrepair and it will take years before someone decides that the area is worth saving. Before the economic downturn, there were signs that Belvedere might be experiencing a rebirth. The Wal-Mart basically revided the commercial area at Columbia and Memorial drives. Small residential developments were popping up. On White Oak, there were several custom homes built and sold. Some houses were being renovated and existing owners were trying to improve their homes appearance. It was not unusual to see a home on the market from about 125,000 dollars. But the area was not taking off like East Lake or Kirkwood. Those two areas had risen above the ashes far enough where they were not pulled down by the economic collapse. There were subtle changes in the housing landscape in Belvedere and you could see the tide of redevelopment headed its way. Then came the downturn. Neighborhoods like Belvedere, which were buoyed by record real estate prices, saw the bottom fall out. I saw a house where a contractors’ dumpster had been sitting there for so long, weeds had started to creep up the sides. No one was putting money into the area. After all, a house that may have fetched 80 to 100 thousand in 2006 or 2007 would barely get 45000 dollars today. The sad part about Belvedere is that they are not alone. With foreclosures, job losses, and under-employment, way too many South DeKalb neighborhoods have taken a step or two back, and we know how hard it will be just to recover those two steps and get back to a break-even level.