Check Out the Site Plan For the New Bank of America Property Development

Decaturish has a summary of the property owner’s plan to build a 232 unit mixed use development at the current Bank of America site at the corner of Church Street and Commerce Ave.

The site plan above, from the city commission agenda for tonight’s meeting, give a sense of how new buildings will be situated on the lot.

The developer is requesting a lifecycle density bonus, hence it’s appearance on the commission’s agenda.  The Planning Commission has already approved the plan that would add 29 lifecycle dwellings to the property in exchange for an allowance of additional density at the site.

16 thoughts on “Check Out the Site Plan For the New Bank of America Property Development”

  1. So there will still be a stand alone bank building and one of the three mixed use buildings will not be attached to the parking structure. This is the best we could do?

    1. It’s the best in the near term. BOA has a 99 year land lease that they’re not interested in leaving. There have been multiple schemes over the years which have incorporated a BOA location within a larger building but they’ve all been rejected by BOA. They will only accept a stand-alone location with its own dedicated surface parking.

      You’ll note this site plan treats the bank branch as an island. That’s intentional, as the developer’s long-term plans include a five story office building on that site that they intend to develop in the future (that *will* connect to the underground parking), as the banking industry is expected to become increasingly online and the need for physical branches will continue to drop. The stand-alone bank is an interim solution.

        1. You can have a branch without a standalone building. In fact most banks are moving away from standalone buildings. See Suntrust and Fidelity in downtown Decatur and Chase in Publix shopping center near Emory for examples.

      1. Agree on single stand alone bank. It’s easy to see that the standalone plus surface parking can be redeveloped with a mixed use multistory building in the future.

        I say the standalone bank lasts to about 3-4 years into the recovery after the next recession, after which it will be replaced with something more dense.

      2. I disagree with the comment that this is the best we can do. Can’t our city pass its own design standards? If so, why would you not pass design standards that allow us to better control this poor urban design? Has the Commission not learned from the CVS debacle? Scott, what say you?

        1. This site plan is deceptive. It looks like it’s four standalone buildings surrounded by parking but that’s actually not the case. The proposal is one large 5-story building in the shape of an L, fronting retail on three sides (Clairemont, Commerce, Church) and wrapping around the corner parcel reserved for the new BOA. The net result, massing and juxtaposition-wise, would be a bit like how the Town Square Condos wrap around the 1-story retail where Noodle, Java Monkey, etc. are. All siting, even for the new BOA, is designed to meet the city’s requirement to be pedestrian and sidewalk oriented.

          When the day comes that BOA chooses to abandon their lease, that corner is pre-designed for a five story office building that’ll tap into the underground parking being built as part of the first phase.

          1. Thanks. That’s helpful information. It looked to me like the underground parking was in fact an above ground parking deck and would be highly visible behind the Bank of America building.

  2. I don’t know all the details of the BofA lease or the developer’s plans, but I am very reluctant to endorse granting significant variances for density. Decatur’s Unified Development Ordinance is weighted (I feel) in favor developers. Why grant variances to an ordinance that is already developer-friendly?

    1. The variance is for a Lifecycle Bonus which allows for 20% more units so long as three quarters of them are affordable for those making 80% of the metro area median income. It’s a tool for building an inventory of affordable downtown units without taxpayer cost or Federal grants.

  3. How did the meeting go tonight with the City. I cant believe we have more Apts and they are not building Condos. Its been 11 years since we have had a new condo building in Downtown Decatur… And demand is HIGH!! We do not need a 4th new apt building.

    1. Yes we do. Would love to have move units downtown that people own instead of paying $2 per square foot to rent. Hopefully the mid-priced condos being planned along Memorial Drive will show developers that you can make money with non-luxury condos. There are some older garden style condos that aren’t in great shape but are hard to market. There’s little room for mid-priced single-family homes in Decatur – the land prices won’t allow it. Decatur can’t only be the land of $800K houses and $600K townhomes.

  4. A one story stand alone bank surrounded by parking? Terrible. I thought Decatur had moved beyond that sort of nonsense. I know someone mentions the long term plan is for a 5 story building where the bank is, but the current layout is still unacceptable to build today.

    And so much of that site is dedicated to parking. Sites located near transit should not have that much parking! Bad urban design.

    1. I don’t think they are going to rent many units to people without parking spaces for them. Yes, Marta is nearby but Marta can’t take you everywhere.
      Plus the bank needs parking.

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