Notice: This is not an official news release from the City of Doraville. I am writing this in my capacity as a City Council member and Director on the Development Authority.
I made a pledge that I would be a City Councilman that was accessible and transparent in sharing as much information as I could. As we tread the second half of 2020 I wanted to provide an economic development update on items that I can share publicly. The development community will always shield full transparency for many reasons, but I think it’s important for elected officials to give periodic updates on information that they can share. A lack of transparency breeds distrust, and trust is something I intend to continue building in our City.
Village at Tilly Mill
Financing for this project has moved forward and as soon as Dekalb County Superior Court reopens the owner will go through the state-required bond validation process. Kaufman Capital Partners is very bullish to get this project started as soon as possible. The project redevelops 9 acres of the 14-acre property into a Class A multi-family property that will be market rate. The project contains approximately 320 residential units and 3,500 square feet of commercial space, and 7,500 square feet of amenities that are typical for a development of this scope, quality, and size. A portion of the existing shopping center will stay to continue serving the other residents of the neighborhood. You can read the previous write up I did on this project here.
Assembly is the adapted reuse of the former General Motors Assembly plant. Although it’s hard to see looking at such a large site, there has been over $54,000,000 in infrastructure done on the site. Work includes utilities, stormwater facilities, and the beginning of a street grid. In June, Governor Kemp announced that the Assembly CID was the recipient of $4.5 Million dollars in grants and loans to build out even more of the street grid that is needed for the next phase. Some of the projects that have been reported at Assembly have been contingent on this road financing from the states. I am pleased to see this moving forward. In 2019 Serta Simmons held their grand opening and has committed 495 new jobs on the site by 2023.
I hear a lot from residents concerned about “nothing happening” at the site. I share their desire to see the site a bustling hub of commerce that it was for 60 years. I will not beguile people about what this site is. It is not Atlantic Station; it is not Perimeter Center; it is never going to be Avalon. The plans for this site all along were that it be a regional mixed-use jobs center. In fact, a large section at the front of the property is being reserved for a major corporate relocation. That could take another year or another 15 years. It was widely reported in development circles that Sherwin-Williams was looking at sites in Georgia. This would be one example of the type of tenant that would fill this portion of the site. You can read where Sherwin-Williams ultimately decided to build their 1.5 Million square foot project that will house 3500 jobs here.
Alamo Draft House
The Alamo Draft House Cinema was announced at the Assembly project in 2019. The project is a $17M 44,000 square foot cinema. The Texas chain is a popular date-night experience with a full-bar, no pre-movie commercials, and children under the age of 18 are not permitted.
The project made it to the closing table and was put on hold due to financing related to the global pandemic and its effects on theaters specifically. This may move forward in the future when conditions for public gatherings improve and the balance sheet improves for theater operators.
Plans for the Lotus Grove, which is the site of the former K-Mart, are also moving forward during this transitional time in our economy. Plans announced last October called for multi-family, a food hall, office, retail, and a hotel. As you know, hotels and travel have been hit particularly hard and the developer had to go back to the drawing board. The developer is retooling their plans to leave room for a hotel at a later date. Preliminary plans call for 350 rental units, 110 units of “loft residential,” a food hall, and two-story retail fronting Buford Highway. The Development authority should have an update from the owner in August. As soon as I can share the plans with you publicly, I will.
Plans for a new Popeyes Restaurant at 5220 Buford Highway are under final plan review with the city. Construction plans indicate that the new, roughly 2,100 square foot Popeyes, will be oriented parallel with Buford Highway rather than perpendicular as the McDonald’s had been. The new orientation will hide all the restaurant’s parking in the rear of the roughly .6 acre site.
Streetlights announced plans to build 295 units of multi-family housing with ancillary retail and amenities at the Assembly project. The project would be an $82M investment. Closing for this has also been delayed due to the worldwide pandemic. Most recently, Streetlights finished a project next to the Mercedes Benz North American headquarters in Sandy Springs. At this time, the owners still see value in the project moving forward and hope to pick up again soon. This project was contingent on the road funding mentioned above. I will keep you posted.
4600 Northeast Expressway
In 2018 Improve Home Improvement Showroom announced plans for a 400,000 square foot project that would comprise of individual “condos” that home improvement vendors would buy creating a massive collection of different home improvement vendors. The financing proved to be problematic as sales for the “condos” did not materialize at the rate that the owner expected.
I am pleased to say that there are very active plans for a new project at this site that would constitute an investment of up to $40M and create 80 skilled jobs. Although it’s not the first place you think of when you think of Doraville, this property does have a lot of potential to bring needed industry and jobs to the city.
There have been many starts and stops with various projects in the city. Very seldom do things ever go as planned. I am not trying to control any narrative or paint a picture of what is or isn’t happening. I think it’s important to be transparent with stakeholders and residents of our city and not just filter the positive or negative. The problem with communication in most government entities is the illusion that it took place to begin with. I will continue working to change that illusion. You can contact me at any time via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep in touch, and stay healthy!