Suburban Plaza Redevelopment Can Resume After 2 Year Dispute

A splurge of press releases yesterday announced the ending of the two year dispute between Selig Enterprises, which owns Suburban Plaza and wishes to redevelop it, and a group  citizens concerned about building a Walmart on the site.

Selig’s release reads in part…

“Selig Enterprises, Inc. is pleased to announce that after an almost two year legal delay over the redevelopment of Suburban Plaza, all litigation between Good Growth Dekalb (GGD) and Dekalb County has been resolved and the redevelopment can resume. During lengthy discussions with GGD, Selig was able to address most of GGD’s concerns in a manner that will only improve our planned redevelopment of Suburban Plaza, including agreeing to the installation of additional sidewalks along Medlock Road, as well other improvements such as landscaping and fence repair next to the neighborhood of homes located directly to the rear of the shopping center.

You can read their full release on the Medlock Area Neighborhood Association website HERE.

Good Growth DeKalb also issued a release stating in part…

Faced with increasingly limited legal options, we accepted an invitation to meet with Selig Enterprises, owner of Suburban Plaza, on April 17. This was a difficult decision and a difficult process and, while we continue to believe a Walmart is wholly unsuited to this location, our legal battle is now over.

In exchange for agreeing not to pursue further legal action against DeKalb County over the granting of the Walmart building permit, we were able to obtain some relief for the individual plaintiffs whose homes are adjacent to the plaza. We also negotiated gains for the community, including a commitment from Selig to contribute a significant amount of money for a sidewalk along Medlock Road between North Decatur Road and Church Street. In addition, Selig Enterprises will arrange a meeting between Good Growth DeKalb and Walmart to discuss issues of importance to the community.

You can read the full release from Good Growth DeKalb at the end of Decaturish’s post on the subject.

97 thoughts on “Suburban Plaza Redevelopment Can Resume After 2 Year Dispute”

  1. GGD’s release also said they had spent over $100K on legal expenses. Just wondering where all that money came from.

  2. The Walmart that went into my hometown neighborhood has ruined property values, you are panhandled every time you try to shop and people are afraid to go there at night now.
    Thanks Selig

    1. This was a common thread when the Memorial Wal*Mart was planned. I have been there many times, day and night, and never felt threatened or been panhandled. That entire corner is cleaner and safer, and I haven’t seen any property value degradation.

      1. Three days ago, I was panhandled while inside the Walmart on Memorial as I was shopping for a blender, and then again at the front door on my way out.

        Not that I agree with GGD, but I have been uncomfortable at the Memorial Walmart more than a few times.

          1. Walmart has security? I spent a while looking for an employee, but felt uncomfortable enough to leave when I turned the corner to see the guy again. It was a long walk to my car.

        1. I think that is just the nature of any location where their are a lot of people. I get panhandled MUCH more often at the Edgewood Target.

          1. And also in the Highlands around where you pull out your wallet to reserve your spot in the newer systems they have. Conveniently when you walk up, there’s usually someone lurking near by who suddenly wants to “help” you. We were forced to yell once, got pretty ugly

            1. “And also in the Highlands around where you pull out your wallet to reserve your spot in the newer systems they have.”

              What is this?

        2. Sorry to hear that. I was speaking only from personal experience. Come to think of it, I rarely get panhandled. I’m thinking it must be my RAF (Resting A$$hole Face).

          By the way, RAF is the male version of BRF (Bi%[email protected] Resting Face).


      2. I am approached every single time I am at the Avondale WalMart, usually in the parking lot, but most recently Monday in the dairy section inside the store. I must look benevolent. I don’t go there so much anymore and hope the new one is safer because it is much closer. Never been approached at the Edgewood Target, and I go there a good bit.

        1. I have to say this is news to me. I’ve never heard of a problem with panhandling in a store, much less experienced it (I definitely have a RAF, as #x# described it, so maybe that’s a factor). Heck, it’s been quite a while since I was panhandled in downtown Decatur even, and I’m walking there all the time.

        2. Same experience here. Almost always panhandled at the Memorial Wal-Mart. Mostly in the parking lot and a couple times inside the store. I probably have gone less than 5 times a year (in my 5 years in Decatur). I go to the Edgewood Target probably once a week, sometimes more, and have never been panhandled…not once. However, I try to be alert every time as I know crime is everywhere and lots has gone down in that Edgewood parking lot.

      3. I used to live half a mile or so from the Memorial Dr. Walmart and never had any problems (it may have to do with me being a 6’2″, 230lb man). The Kroger across the street? Oh yeah. It’s still colloquially referred to as the “Sh-tty Center” around the house.

        That being said, the Gresham Road Walmart IS shady as hell. The last time I was there, the greeter on duty had gone out into the parking lot to stop a car break-in, because she recognized the car as belonging to another employee. I overheard two employees discussing it and describing it as “Only at Gresham, baby. Only at Gresham.”

    2. Now that Walmart is carrying the organic Wild Oats brand I think it will be a popular spot for grocery shoppers.

      1. If it would just carry Trader Joe’s products, we could kill a birds with the proverbial one stone.

      2. Will it help them to improve their customer satisfaction scores, which are at the bottom of every rating survey?

        1. They don’t have to. They’re Walmart. It’s like expecting an airline or cable provider to improve customer service. They don’t have to. They are such significant parts of modern life that they can basically screw you over and you’ll just bend over and take it.

    3. Never had any problems at the Brookhaven WalMart. I just don’t see how a brand new WalMart will damage property values but living next to an old Thrift Store and really unattractive strip mall wouldn’t.


        Or at least that’s what I’ve gathered from GGD’s shenanigans.

        1. Never mind that YDFM has been reported as having personnel policies that are worse than WM, have poor customer service and have obliterated acres of urban greenspace – none of that matters because the GGD shops there.

              1. Exactly. I think they work on zoning too. No one who cares at all about the earth and treatment of people will shop at the farmer’s market. Did you read Thomas Wheatley’s CL article on the farmer’s market?

                1. Wow. So cutting trees to create a market that will be the envy of the country is still not good enough reason, huh? Well dang.

            1. Paloma, thank you for bringing this up about the Farmer’s Market. I have not gone there since 1993 because of the way they treat employees

              1. Congratulation, but you are the exception. Most folks don’t care; they go anyway because “it’s a fabulous, one of a kind place”. There are businesses I don’t patronize today, some for a long time, because, at least IMO, they have breached good ethics or business practice in some manner or another. I have not been to YDFM since I can’t remember, perhaps as long as you, and now their rape of an urban landscape has moved them further into oblivion.

                1. “Rape of an urban landscape”? Wow.

                  And let’s be completely realistic here – if you want to shop at a store that doesn’t screw over its employees utterly, you’re basically down to Costco and maybe Publix. Without getting into “that’s how capitalism works”… that’s how capitalism works.

                  1. yeah, how do you rape urban landscape? seems to me you have landscape that is unraped, and in order to turn it into urban landscape, it must be raped. if it has trees and is mostly natural, it’s not urban, and if it’s urban, it’s been raped.

                    1. Maybe my terminology wasn’t the best, but I’m referring the the clear-cutting of a rather large urban forest that certainly was, was, the habitat of many birds and other creatures. Rape was the most applicable term I could come up with.

      1. It doesn’t matter if she truly believes that Wal-Mart caused the panhandling or the crime.

    4. I get panhandled on and around Decatur Square almost daily. It never occurred to me to blame the nearby business owners.

  3. Having raised that much or more in repair and improvement assessments for my much-smaller condo complex, I would imagine it came mostly from the concerned individual homeowners.

  4. What an incredible waste of time, money, and energy. Now maybe something will start to happen with all the dead car dealerships in that neighborhood.

    1. “Now maybe something will start to happen with all the dead car dealerships in that neighborhood.”

      Supposedly Decatur is on the shortlist for a Tesla location in metro Atlanta.

      1. As hip and fun as it would be to have a Tesla dealership here, I would rather see all that closed dealer space developed for commercial and retail uses. I realize that developers are likely to shy away because of environmental remediation issues, but if that corridor takes off, those properties will become more desirable.

  5. So glad that our community can finally move forward on this matter. The empty, decaying Suburban plaza was a disgrace. I’m really looking forward to having something attractive and useful there, and frankly a local Walmart will be convenient – will save trips to Target at Edgewood and N. Druid Hills. And a brand new LA Fitness and HomeGoods? I am thrilled. Now I really never have to leave Decatur. 🙂

  6. Re: above? $100,000k in legal expenses? It’s too bad they don’t have the same amount of love for homeless children or refugee groups, in their hearts, as deeply as they hate Walmart. This insane amount of money given to lawyers could have been so much better used by those truly in need in the community.

    1. If it does, it won’t be WalMart’s fault–it’ll be the fault of all its vocal supporters who suddenly decide that they’d rather have low, low prices than great service.

      1. Some people can’t afford to factor in customer service when trying to make ends meet. Those people are very fortunate to have a place like Walmart.

        1. Intown Ace survived Home Depot on Lawrenceville Highway. I don’t think Walmart poses as much of a threat as most fear.

      1. My favorite sight at Walmart, generally about three months after it has opened: 24 checkout lanes. Three open.

        1. I’m not a frequent shopper at Walmart, but I’ve noticed that too. But when we take my mother-in-law to the Walmarts in Alabama (either Jacksonville, Gadsen, or Oxford, depending on where else we’re going), it seems like all or almost all of the registers are always staffed, while the stores generally aren’t as crowded as here. Wonder what that’s about.

        2. Same is true at Target on NDH. They don’t have 24…maybe 20…but never more than 1/4 of those open. Maybe it’s some type of Big Box Operating Principle.

          Principle #3: At any given time, only 28% of available lanes shall be open. Lengthy customer lines shall be made to wind through the women’s undergarment section.
          Principle #17: At least one oblivious customer [usually Rival] shall step in that one piece of gum we missed while cleaning.
          Principle #34: Nickelback shall be the only an available music playing in the electronics section. We are horrible people.

          1. Amen on Target. The one at Perimeter and also Lavista pull this- day, night, makes no difference. I’ll circle the store hoping another register will open, but come back 10 minutes later, and it’s only worse. Lines backed up into the aisles, with 20 employees standing around looking at how incredibly fckd up the line is, as if in awe, but not bothering to ring people out. BAFFLING TO ME

  7. Has it really been two years?
    Seems like just yesterday I learned of GGD, and started trying to understand how a Walmart is so much worse than urban decay, a Target or TraderJ’s.

    What just happened?

    1. What just happened was they did what they should have done 2 years and $100,000 ago – they threw in the towel. They never really had a legal case; they were trying to make their case on moral grounds, which the courts don’t care about.

      1. +1e6

        Good riddance, a cause based on ‘No Walmart, but Trader Joes (Aldi)’ is ok’ is a joke. How about Costco, would GGD have taken that? I don’t know what the average annual sales per employee compares at those two stores, but I am willing to bet the Costco’s is at least 2x, maybe 3x. Using GGD logic, that means that a Costco ‘kills’ jobs at a rate 2-3x that of Wal-mart. Would that have been preferable?

        I guess at least a few neighbors got some landscaping and new fence out of the deal…

        1. Let’s ban mechanized farming too GGD. We’d have full employment, and then after a couple of billion folks starve to death, the lines at our Walmart will be extra short.

        2. I’m happy for someone to convince me otherwise, but I believe that the objection to Walmart is less about the store itself than its perceived main clientele, i.e. low-income, minority. I agree with those who say the reaction would be different to a Target or, especially, a Trader Joes.

              1. i’m simply acknowledging the truth of Brian’s statement. the irony that in a community as (reputationally) enlightened as ours, racism and classism played a meaningful role in this protest is an uncomfortable reality we need to ponder if we really want to live up to the ideals we spout.

                1. The problem with racists is that they get really offended when you call them racists.

          1. You’re right and I am not surprised your comment has already hit a nerve. GGD’s objections were transparently class-based, as they expressly stated that they’d welcome various big box stores (REI, etc) that catered to their upper-middle class membership.

          2. As usual, charges of racism get loosely tossed around on DM. Especially in this situation when it’s clearly more about classism. A visit to peopleofwalmart dot com should dispel any notion that Wal-Mart’s brand is associated with minorities.

            This is not to defend GGD overall, but calling them racists is unfounded.

            1. It’s difficult to separate race and class issues sometimes,especially in Atlanta. Though Walmart in general may not be associated with minorities, it is in this area (check out a Walmart and a Target in roughly the same geographic area and you will see a significant difference), and a large presence of minorities, in most situations, is the prime indicator of a low income area.

              1. I hear you but I don’t think that’s at all in play when it comes to Wal-Mart and GGD. The Wal-Mart brand is strong, national, and pretty consistent, no matter the local demographics.

                1. “The Wal-Mart brand is strong, national, and pretty consistent, no matter the local demographics.”

                  Not sure what that means. I know I can go to a Walmart not far from here and it will be 70-80 percent non-white, and the Target a few miles down the road will be close to the opposite ratio. Even in a relatively high income area like Duluth, where there the two stores were literally across the street from each other, the differences held.

              2. Difficult, nothin’. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to separate class and race in an Atlanta context.

            2. we get overly simplistic with racism—it’s not a binary, am or am not a racist, situation.

              racism exists on a spectrum, and in this country it’s hard for anyone of any stripe to claim they don’t have a place on that spectrum. our country’s history is steeped in it, and our media saturates and reinforces many racial stereotypes to the point that we all suffer from some form of racism even if only by osmosis.

              my self-concept is “i’m not a racist”, but in my heart, i know thoughts pass through my mind that suggest otherwise, even if i never give them breath or overtly act on them. the more reality we deal with, the better prepared we are to confront it.

              classism is often little more than a dog whistle for racism.

          1. i can buy that in the sense that there are racial and class associations (among others) with the Walmart brand that aren’t appealing to certain communities. including ours. most of us just don’t want to admit it, so we throw the “evil corporation”, or “products made in China sweatshops”, or “mom and pop store killas” . . . flags on the field instead in order to preserve our self-image.

            no one wants to own the whole truth. at least publically.

            1. Here’s hoping the (arguably misguided, and unclear) efforts of GGD over the last 24 months were rooted in a true desire to improve the area, or at least a more benign pretense of some sort. Instead of racism. Racism stinks – worse than Walmart.

              1. given Suburban Plaza’s current state, simply leveling it would be an improvement, so the bar for progress isn’t very high; Walmart included.

                and, p.s. re: all the above, as my wife often reminds me, when i say “we”, i usually mean “me”. wouldn’t want to throw everyone under my bus.

  8. It is 3.5 miles from Suburban Plaza to the Wal-Mart on Memorial Drive, so I figure people want this new Wal-Mart so they don’t have to go to that one. Am I missing something?

    1. Yes. A great deal of something.
      Perhaps review some of the older threads about this. And be sure to find the one about the narrowly averted, and clandestine, Maddy’s/FoxBros., Big-pit BBQ deal. Talk about redundancy in the ‘hood.

    2. Because everyone in Decatur walks and rides their bike everywhere they go 3.5 miles is quite a distance; especially when carrying a trailer full of groceries and 2 kids. On a serious note, WalMart is not moving to suburban plaza because of an uprising of citizens demanding so. WalMart is moving here because they believe it will be a profitable location. This location will bite into big (soon to be mega) Kroger’s customer base much more than the Memorial Drive WalMart’s customer base.

    3. “Am I missing something?”

      Yes, the unincorporated north side of Decatur (which has no close Walmart) and east toward Tucker (this will be closer than the Tucker store for those inside or just outside the Perimeter).

    4. This is actually a Walmart corporate thing – they want stores to serve by population density. A store for every million people or something along those lines. They just haven’t been able to make inroads into urban areas like they have suburban and rural ones, and those markets are getting saturated at this point.

  9. If you work at Walmart, it’s quite likely that even with full time employment you are earning wages below the poverty level. REI etc pay their workers a somewhat liveable minimum wage. That was one of the major GGD objections to the Walmart. Anyone bringing the race card into this discussion to impugn their motives is just proving themselves an idiot.

    1. You are correct probably correct, but that is a moral, not a legal argument, one of several that GGD raised and all of which had no legal standing. If a rezoning had been required, which it was not, they could have had a much stronger case. The proposed WM in Athens is a good example of that; a rezoning was required and organized opponents got it defeated.

    2. “REI etc pay their workers a somewhat liveable minimum wage.”

      Perhaps, but I’m fairly certain a Walmart store employs more people, and, even more importantly, the number of low income shoppers (particularly fixed-income seniors) who will benefit from having a Walmart nearby far exceeds any benefit to that demographic that REI might have. Somehow the consumer part of the equation is always left out of these debates. And call me an idiot if you want, but I’d call you naive if you think the real objection is to how Walmart treats employees rather than the type of shopper it attracts.

    3. Do you shop at YDFM, Judge? Because YDFM is every bit as reprehensible as Walmart in this respect.

    4. all i’ve heard from people who’ve worked there is that REI tries really hard to make sure as few workers as possible work enough hours to be able to get the full time worker’s benefits (which are actually good).

  10. Full disclosure: I don’t love WalMart as a store or employer but will probably very occasionally shop there. I prefer the selection and customer service of Intown Ace. I don’t know any GGDers but am sure that the freedom to express dissent and use the court system without being squashed by force is in the long run good for our society and country. Suburban Plaza has needed a lift for a long, long time, maybe since Belk’s was there, so I’m glad if positive things are happening there. Of course, I’m worried whether that will actually happen after losing a few favorite stores there.

    Having said that, I’m not getting the stereotypes of GGDers: They are opposed to WalMart and want Trader Joe’s ( but I love TJ too) but are secret racists? That doesn’t compute. In my experience, the types of folks who are clearly racist are usually not opposed to WalMarts. (Of course, now I’m stereotyping too but that’s what this seems to be about.) . Now some of us, probably all of us, have a certain level of unconscious racism, classism, sexism, otherism, but that’s not limited to GGDers. I’m thinking that there’s more to this GGD hatred. Were there some specific GGD actions that hurt neighborhoods? Individuals? Groups? This blog occasionally gets locked into “I’m right, they’re wrong” disputes, especially around national politics, but not usually. We’re usually more nuanced about local issues. What is so awful about GGD?

    1. their quest seemed quixotian to me from the outset, in my exceptionally subjective opinion.
      that so much money and energy was spent for relatively small accommodations made me wince. that said, they put up a damn good fight
      for something they believed in and, ultimately I respect that even if I disagree with it.

    2. It’s not about racism per se, but a form if classism that is linked to race. Note the comments about panhandling; if such incidents had occurred in front of Square Pub (where I’ve experienced it),for example, would anyone attribute it to Square Pub? Of course not. But because Walmart is low rent in some peoples minds, it’s easy to blame them for such problems

  11. I live within a stone’s throw of where they’re putting up the wal mart. We actually walk across the street to get some stuff from big lots every now and then or go up to get some fast food. It’s a pretty safe area to walk around at any time.

    If you think this is as ‘seedy as it gets’ then please get back in your 2014 land rover and gtfo of our neighborhood. You have no basis for comparison.

    According to the last plans that Selig revealed, their new underground parking lot is going up about a tennis court away from our house.

    Yeah. We’re moving. Far as we’re concerned, it’s no different than if an oil spill happened or a chemical accident. We have a publix less than five minutes away in every direction. Kroger only 7 minutes away. If we really need cheap chinese crap we could always drive up to marietta. This store won’t serve the people or the community. It’s just a designed blight.

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