DeKalb Farmer’s Market Wants to Quadruple in Size

Michael alerted me to this yesterday.  According to a Development of Regional Impact filing that DeKalb County made to the State of Georgia, Your DeKalb Farmer’s Market wants to add 518,000 square feet of retail space to its existing 140,000 square foot building on East Ponce de Leon Ave, east of Decatur.  That means it would grow to four times its current size!

According to the filing…

The proposed expansions of the existing DeKalb Farmers Market include 718,367 SF of new warehouse area and 517,949 SF of new retail area. The proposed project will require 2 new driveways; 1 signalized and 1 unsignalized. The proposed project will provide 2,637 new parking spaces, while 763 existing parking spaces will remain.

The project is estimated to commence in October 2012 and will take 10 years to complete.  10 years?

h/t: Michael via Skyline Views

59 thoughts on “DeKalb Farmer’s Market Wants to Quadruple in Size”


  1. Something is not right because that wouldn’t take more than 6 months to build a warehouse, really can be done in 3 months for basic warehouse construction. It’s not April Fools still is it?

  2. This would be about the size of Lenox Mall. Somehow I find it hard to believe this is real and/or feasible.

  3. I hear the owner has control of all the undeveloped woods behind YDFM. Maybe he’s just trying to fill the space?

    1. If that’s true it wouldnt be hard to make access to N Decatur Rd. as the woods backup to the power line area / kroger shopping center

  4. I really hope this is a joke, because that would be just awful. I couldn’t see me doing my weekly shopping there anymore in a monstrosity like that.

  5. His business, his land. His timeline, his Business plan. Why is this a problem? Development of Regional Impact Statement??… ya gotta be kidding me. To all those folks that are proponents of more government control and regulation. You cannot have it both ways, Control and Increased Tax Revenue. You can have one or the other. My understanding is that YDFM is one of the largest sales tax generators in the state of GA. Big employer and they have a great product. If they have figured out a way to provide their service in a bigger and better way , so be it. JB says “the owner has control of the undeveloped woods ….” Control? I believe that means he bought it, pays property taxes on it – otherwise known as OWNS it. If you feel it should be run differently, go invest your own time and money and start your own business.

    1. If it’s not zoned for that much intensity, it is very much the community’s business, esp. as pertains to traffic/infrastructure. To me that is the difference between something like this and the Suburban Plaza deal. If it is zoned appropriately, I have no problem with the project other than I doubt there’s a viable business plan for that much space.

  6. I used to go to YDFM weekly, but as much as I like it, I’ve stopped going because it’s always so crowded. There was a time many moons ago when I first moved here that there were certain days/times when it was not so crowded, but those days are gone. So the expansion sounds like a good idea to me. With all the additional space, they must be planning to expand their product offerings, but expand to include what? Maybe they’ll be like a WalMart Super Store. I can see the ‘Stop YDFM’ signs now!

    1. Hmmm. I had never thought of comparing the footprints of YDFM vs. proposed Walmart and it appears Walmart would have a 147K sq ft footprint and 40K sq ft of groceries (so, ~27% groceries). Footprint-wise, right now they are on the same ballpark.

      600K+ sq ft of shopping space is huge; 2K+ parking spots is pretty staggering. It will be the Ikea of food! But not even, because a quick google says our Ikea has ~366K sq ft. Maybe YDFM will have a (fresh live) giant squid tank AND a fresh kelp tank and that’s why they need so much space. And milk from their own goat herd?

      Also makes me wonder if they are planning on breaking up the space into separate specialty shops for convenience & higher volume; they could still keep the “general store” too.

      Heck, they could build their own foodie village: retail and restaurants below, condos on top. With big kitchens but small pantries because you could just walk downstairs to shop fresh daily. Very european.

      But the real question: will the also-in-the -dreamy-future light rail go there?!

      (I think my coffee was a little strong this morning…)

      1. I like it. Fish tanks the size of the GA Aquarium! Mixed use to fit in with the new trends! Underground parking, just like WalMart! It could go on and on (with more exclamation points!)…

        1. Two words: SQUID WRESTLING!! Winner takes all. With a giant tank to rival the aquarium’s you could just dive right in and catch the fish you’ll eat for dinner that night. Can’t get much fresher than that!

          1. Reminds me of an old Saturday Night Live skit where they modeled a Monkey restaurant on the idea of a lobster joint where you can pick your own lobster. Instead, you were able to choose your own monkey from the cage. I think it was Norm McDonald and while choosing his, he said something like, “I think I would like that one there. Yes, the one clinging to its mother.”

  7. On their way to competing with Buford Highway — add tons of dry goods, hot meals, expanded wine, ‘chef’s market’ and regional delivery hub and they will start filling space quickly…

    1. Competing with the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market? Not unless they steal away the chicas who make the empanadas and tacos and give them their own place of honor here! I don’t care if they expand to 1,000,000 square feet and turn all of East Ponce into a parking lot, if they do that I will be happy!

        1. Oh man, I still have not. I gave up all meat for Lent and am just easing back into eating some chicken now. I’ll be up that way tomorrow though so I’m hoping to have enough time at lunch to hit it. Got my order all ready to go – chicken empanada, beef empanada, carne asada taco, extra salsa and Mexican soda. I’ll be having salads for both lunch and dinner today to compensate.

  8. YDFM is BUSTING at the seams. Every section overlaps with another section or is cramped re: selection. They could easily house a 50Ksf wine/ beer store. They also need a dedicated dining room that doesn’t overflow into the flow of traffic. I’m sure they’d like to configure it where you can also enter from outside the store and not have to enter from within.

    They could have an expanded meat section that is separate from their cold cuts, cheese and prepared salads, salsa and other dips. Also, their baked goods could be in a larger more open area. It is TIGHT over there and it’s not the best way to display their product. Given that they now provide unpasturized dairy products, I’m sure they want a more expansive dairy section. And they could also have a much larger food-to-go section as well.

    Almost every area of YDFM is literally crammed with product. They could add 100K in square footage to retail just to deal with the cramped aisles and overlapping product. I can’t wait!!!

    1. Agreed – as someone who really enjoys cooking and shops there almost daily I think the place is great as it is but could still be much better. Decatur Heights Dad brings up some points for improvement for sure –

  9. The project timeline is a bit confusing to me. Looking at the DRI form, it indicates that this project is not “a phase or part of a larger overall project.” However, when you look at the section on estimated project completion dates, it states “This project/phase: October 2013, Overall project: 10 years,” implying that some phase will be completed by October 2013… ??? Any ideas on what the breakdown is?

  10. Makes you wonder if they’re going to build a whole new store and warehouse. But they need to keep the other open while construction is ongoing?! But 10 years? I wonder if they’re leaving the door open for expansions later on in the next 10 years to accommodate whatever might come down the pike – or in this case, Ponce de Leon Ave.

  11. The amount of property YDFM owns is staggering, with frontage on DeKalb Industrial as well as North Decatur. The new plan may not impact traffic that much if they use the other outlets in their plan. My wife will be pulling for a separate building for the fish, because she is sensitive to the crazy smells up in there.

  12. YDFM is doing both wholesale and retail. Obviously they want to do more wholesale.

    Expanding out to DeKalb Industrial is important because if they expand the footprint as they say they want to Ponce de Leon can’t handle the load. They should probably go there first.

    Yeah, it’s a 10-year plan. They don’t have the cash to do this at one go. They want to do what’s most profitable first, and my guess is that’s the wholesaling expansion.

    One thing for those observing this. Watch the traffic patterns. Do the roads they want to use have the capacity to handle the additional load?

    Oh, and has anyone noticed how anti-Hispanic YDFM is? Their selection of Hispanic products is abysmal, and they have almost no Spanish-speaking employees. Just sayin’.

    1. I’m with you, Dana. I enjoy their vast selection of Asian foods but have wanted more Hispanic & Eastern European selections. I would love to see an area to get paper towels, foil, etc. so I don’t have to go to YDFM and Kroger. And spiff up the cafeteria. What if they served wine and had table service???

    2. Why limit this to YDFM? I went to Brick Store last week and they did not have a single Hispanic server either (they may have all been in the kitchen, but that’s beside the point). They wouldn’t even serve me a Corona! Just Belgian beer this and microbrew that!

    3. Re: “Oh, and has anyone noticed how anti-Hispanic YDFM is? Their selection of Hispanic products is abysmal, and they have almost no Spanish-speaking employees. Just sayin’.”

      And if they did, there would be no shortage of complaints that they’re trying to put the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market out of business ! Personally, I like the YDFM, BHFM split : YDFM for European/African, BHFM for (East) Asian/Mexican. Specialization is good.

  13. I’m with Decatur Heights Dad. I shop there a couple of times a week and I practically have to meditate in my car beforehand to get into my zen mode. The shopping experience there would be ten times better if they would just spread out.

    1. We’re fortunate enough to live close by, so I usually shop on weekday evenings from 7pm. To get the freshest produce and baked goods, I prefer Saturday or Sunday morning at 9am sharp, and go to the high-demand areas first, like the deli counter and produce aisles.

      If I’m forced to shop at any other time, I carry just a hand basket.

  14. I sure wish they’d consider a complete re-location to a spot closer to a MARTA station instead. I’d be more willing to put up with the weekend crowds if I didn’t have to also put up with the parking mess.

    1. It is 1 mile from the Avondale Station. That is a hike – particularly with groceries – but it is also on the #120 bus line which connects to the Avondale Station.

      Not really sure where else they could put this amount of space that would be closer to a Marta station.

      1. Like-for-like commercial real estate adjacent to subway stations is significantly more expensive. With as much land as they need, YDFM likely could not afford to stay in business if they relocated next to a subway station.

        With that said, if demand for mass transit increases significantly, then Marta could easily make money by running buses more often up and down E. Ponce.

  15. With all that new space I wouldn’t be surprised if they are thinking of putting in greenhouses and growing their own greens, spices, tomatoes, maybe even tilapia, crayfish and shrimp. It fits in with the locally grown movement and can be done organically. Pushed to extremes they could even do pick your own.

    Google images of “greenhouse lettuce production”. It’s amazing. Aquaponics is what they call the process of mixing tank raised fish with planter grown food in a mutual fertilizer/nutrient cycle.

  16. Remember when the Dekalb Farmers Market was near Suburban Plaza? When the current one opened up in the 1980’s it seemed so huge. It is interesting to note that while Robert Blazer ran the Dekalb Farmers Market his brother Harry Blazer was in charge of the Harry’s Farmers Markets (now Whole Foods).

    1. I remember the opening of the current YDFM location. It was amazing to see all the new shopping carts lined up in the parking lot. At the old Medlock spot, carts were hard to come by especially on the weekends. The few carts available all had squeaky or broken wheels.

      Back in the day, Harry Blazer worked for Robert at YDFM. Their sister worked there, too. Sometime shortly after moving to the current space on Ponce, there was a falling out among the siblings. Harry and the sister left YDFM .

      Harry then opened Harry’s Farmers Market. I believe they had several locations including a take out food shop at Ponce and Highland near the Plaza Theater.

      When Harry worked at YDFM he was the more out going of the brothers. He was often out on the shopping floor among the customers. I’ve always felt the character of the market changed after Harry left. Much less attention paid to customer service.

      1. If not for Harry’s In A Hurry, I would have starved to death in my 30s (regularly working ’til 7, 8, 9pm and traveling a lot for work). There were locations on Roswell Rd in the same shopping center with Pearl and Dunkin Donuts, and on Peachtree Road at Collier Road.

      2. “Much less attention paid to customer service.”

        That is an understatement of epic proportions. Just Sunday as I was walking in, a man walked in ahead of me, asked where the carts where, and then started to head back out to get one from the parking lot. The employee was actually screaming at him that if he went out that door he wouldn’t be allowed back in, because it was the entrance and not the exit. I was appalled at her tone and the fact that she was screaming at him. He ended up not going back out, and just grabbing a basket, but I would have left and never come back. Of course, every week I vow never to go back there and yet i do…

        1. It’s a bizarro world at YDFM. I find the cashiers are usually nice when engaged. The management, well, forget it. One time I was in the checkout line, about to move up, when another cash register opened up and the guy who runs the cash registers was just insistent that I move over, even when I declined and said the person behind me could move over. It was really weird. Plus, all the signs establishing the rules all over the place have always hinted that whoever runs the place has to be a bit of a control freak. That said, the prices are good and the produce is usually pretty good. And they have the giant jars of Nutella $1.30 less than Publix — when they have them in stock. 🙂

          1. I buy Kroger brand chocolate-hazelnut spread. It’s cheaper, tastes better than the name-brand Nutella, has more wholesome ingredients and comes in crunchy!

    2. Did Harry’s really become Whole Foods? I didn’t know that. I remember that Harry’s split off from YDFM and was quite the place in it’s day. But bad business decisions somehow led to its demise–it certainly wasn’t a problem with its popularity. People loved it. I was dumb enough to buy some stock (luckily not much) in the naive belief that anything that good had to succeed. (Last time I ever bought stock. Someone like me needs to stick to conventional mutual funds and bank accounts.) I thought Whole Foods was an entirely different entity, not a descendant of Harry’s.

      1. Ok, so Whole Foods already existed and then it bought up Harry’s, right? Rather than Whole Foods evolved from Harry’s?

      2. I thought Whole Foods was looking to get into the Atlanta market and did a deal with Harry’s to take over some of their spaces. I don’t remember it being a buyout of Harry’s.

          1. Thanks. I remembered people talking about Harry’s investors losing money…. I guess losses were related to Harry’s in a Hurry…..or maybe from stock price plunge before the Whole Foods deal.

  17. I have dreams of being at YDFM on a Saturday afternoon while they are filming Top Chef Atlanta. Sometimes I am standing by the strawberries when all the chefs run in. In other dreams I am standing by the seafood. But in the most cruel version, it is the Saturday before Thanksgiving and the chefs run in and then they come to a screeching halt because they cannot move anywhere. I think that would make for some good tv.

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