City To Discuss Purchase of Callaway Building Site Tonight

Prior to tonight’s Decatur City Commission meeting, the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (which will consist of Mayor Baskett, and Commissioners Cunningham and Boykin) is scheduled to meet at 6:30pm to consider the purchase of DeKalb County’s Callaway Building site.

Documents for the meeting spell out that the city would pay the greater of…


According to an article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle last month, the city will potentially work with Cousins Properties to redevelop the site.

If the sale is finalized, the agreement between the city and the county would allow the county 18 months to move off the property, while the city could use currently unoccupied space for municipal court services while the Beacon Hill complex is under-construction.

If you’ve got some serious time to kill, you can read through all the legalese in the attachments HERE.

20 thoughts on “City To Discuss Purchase of Callaway Building Site Tonight”

  1. Good move for the City Decatur. This area has been a waste-land for approx. 40 years. But warning: the Calloway building was considered good planning and architecture when it was
    developed. Lets hope we don’t fall for the ‘latest trend’ again when the site is redone based on the advice of well meaning experts.

    1. The drivable suburban development pattern that was being used to build in Decatur 40 years ago really was a trend that displaced building walkable urban places. Walkable urban places had been the “trend” for about 5000 years – since the beginning of cities. The building of suburban places in urban areas has been a failure of great proportions. So if this site goes back to a state than enhances our walkable urban environment then we are likely on the right track.

      1. “Walkable urban places had been the “trend” for about 5000 years – since the beginning of cities.”

        Urban planners of the 1200’s thought about designing spaces around cars, but wisely decided against it.

  2. Interesting and concerning that the city would buy the property. Why isn’t Cousins or some other private developer buying it directly? What risks are we taking on? How do we know we’re paying a fair market value that will be recovered? What competencies does our city staff have in managing real estate investment deals?

    I love that our city is active in fostering redevelopment, but the role and risks they take in doing so should be contained.

    1. I would imagine the biggest benefit is a stronger negotiating position for the City to get the type of development that best suits the goals of the Strategic Plan. If the City had done this in 2009, I’d be more worried. Now, with improving economy and disintegrating neighboring school districts, the risk is less than it would have been.

    2. Good move for the city. This will get this property back on the tax rolls since Dekalb County is exempt.

      1. But if the City owns it, then they would pay themselves taxes? I must be missing something.

        1. No, as they have done with other properties, the City would sell the rights to a developer (Cousins in this case) who would then develop it.

  3. Regarding the costs disucssion from TeeRuss, a cost of $25.00 per square foot is crazy crazy cheep, they are practically giving it to the city of Decatur. Even with an older building (that is still functional) the cost would be much higher if it were on the commerical markets. A residential lot (not commercial) in the City of Decatur is selling for above $80.00 a square foot just for the dirt so this is a great deal.

    Also the team that was the awarded development group with Jerry Miller and Cousins do great work and could help to transform this side of the city. This project will take quite a while to get going but Decatur in for a good wave of change and development. The Beacon School Complex, Trinity Triangle Project, Development behind the old Wachovia Building and the upcomming 4th phase to the Decaur Housing Authority. (all great things for the city!!!!!!!)

  4. A residential lot (not commercial) in the City of Decatur is selling for above $80.00 a square foot just for the dirt so this is a great deal.

    I agree with your statement, and think that the City got a goo deal, but I think your math has got to be a little bit wrong.

    Let’s take a relatively average 1/4 acre Decatur residential lot. That’s 10,890 square feet. At $80/sq ft that would make that lot worth $871,200.

    We are a hot real estate market, but for raw residential zoned land with no improvements? I think that’s a little high.

    Did you possibly mean $18/square foot?

    1. The valuation is dependent on the entitlements provided by the zoning. A residential lot is typically based on an assumption of around 6-10 dwellings per acre (subdivided into lots). Downtown, you can develop a hundred units an acre.

  5. Woops you are correct sorry not $80 mis type. a standard 50×150 lot in Decatur or 7500 squre feet hit in the area of $250,000 or or $33 a square foot for residential land. my comment was done too quick sorry for the bad calculation. Commercial land trades at a higher rate than standard residential that is all i was trying to say and that the city was getting a good deal overall. The major plus would be from the taxes if the development does in-fact hit that area like planned.

  6. I still don’t understand why the county couldn’t sell the building directly to the developer. Why is Decatur acting as middleman?

    1. My guess would be that the partnership provides leverage for the city. That’s a really key downtown parcel with huge potential for helping redefine downtown south of the square to the tracks. There are a lot of things permissible under our zoning — especially as they relate to design, materials, use and tenants — that might be okay but fall short of ideal. Having skin in the game allows the city to push for a higher standard.

  7. If my memory is correct…someone just bought Tyler Perry studio/land down near Crog St/Beltline for $2.3 million/acre. Thats about $53 per sq. ft. I’d say City made a good deal. Therefore should have some leverage w/ Cousins when they make the second part of this deal. Smooth move Jim B.

    1. My concern is not necessarily whether it’s a good or bad deal. My concern is whether the City has the consent of the people to make good and bad land development deals. This is an activity that goes beyond core services and introduces huge potential for risk or corruption.

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