Prospect of Securing Callaway Site Grocery Store Not Looking Great

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Following up on our post from earlier today

You may recall that the city has long-stated its desire to secure a grocery store for the Callaway mixed use development.  Hoorah!

You may also recall that the Georgia Legislature recently cleared the way by changing the liquor law to give local governments the ability to allow retail alcohol sales closer to schools.  Phew!

But the city’s Asst. City Manager Lyn Menne is now telling us that while the city is still trying to get some kind of market in that space, she’s “not sure a grocery store is going to happen.”.

Guess we’re still not attractive enough to all the grocery store bean counters.  Looks like we’re gonna have the start that food co-op after all!

Callaway Building Could Be Torn Down This Year

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The AJC is reporting the city is saying that DeKalb County employees will be out of the Callaway Building by November and the building could be demolished by the end of 2015.

However, the paper reports that construction of the large, mixed-use project that will take its place – which has long been rumored to include a grocery store – isn’t like to begin until “late 2016”.

Future a Little Brighter for Callaway Development Grocery Store Ambition

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Here’s a Georgia Legislature vote we all over looked until Decaturish pointed it out this afternoon:

House Bill 85 allows local municipalities to lift the “no off-premise consumption alcohol sales within 200 yards of a school” restriction in situations where they deem it appropriate.   It was approved yesterday and just needs Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature.

As many of you know, this is an important in relation to the City of Decatur’s effort to get a grocery store into the Callaway development, which sits within the aforementioned 200 yards of Decatur High School.

City’s Downtown Grocery Store Ambition Could Be Hampered by Alcohol Restriction

For all y’all who have been hoping for another downtown grocery to open up at the Callaway site, we received confirmation last night there is another hurdle the city and developer will have to overcome to make it even possible.

In a response to an inquiry from Commissioner Scott Drake at last night’s Decatur City Commission meeting, Asst. City Manager Lyn Menne confirmed that Callaway site is subject to state and local alcohol restrictions due to its close proximity to Decatur High School.

As has been discussed and referenced here many times in the past, state law prohibits the sale of alcohol for off-premise consumption within 200 yards of a school.

Ms. Menne told the commission that the city has asked both the city attorney and the Downtown Development Authority attorney to look into the restrictions on businesses that sell alcohol on (restaurants) and off-premises (grocery stores) and has been told that the city has the ability to change the law regarding on-site consumption, which would allow restaurants to sell alcohol, but it’s a state law that governs off-site consumption sales.

This would limit the ability of the city and developer to attract a grocery store to the site, which has been a long-stated goal for the project.

However, Mayor Pro-Tem Kecia Cunningham noted that there is currently a bill before the Georgia Legislature that would ease restrictions on off-site alcohol consumption sales.  Online Athens wrote about Senate Bill 91 recently HERE.

Stay tuned.

Adding One, Large Commercial Property To the Decatur Tax Digest

Another item on the Decatur City Commission agenda tomorrow – a vote on officially changing the zoning designation of the Callaway Building site along Trinity Place from Institutional to Commercial/High Density Residential.

The City of Decatur purchased the property from DeKalb County back in 2013, when it also signed a contract with Cousins Realty to redevelopment the site.  The County has leased the property back from the City for the past two years.

Development plans for the site have not yet been released.

Cousins is currently constructing Phase II of its Emory Point mixed use project up on Clifton Road.

Photo courtesy of Google Streetview

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…

(a) FIVE MILLION EIGHTY-NINE THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED AND N0/100 DOLLARS ($5,089,300.00), or (b) TWENTY-FIVE AND N0/100 DOLLARS ($25.00) PER SQUARE FOOT 

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.

Decatur Touch a Truck is Back March 9th!

It’s that time of year again!  Decatur Touch a Truck returns Saturday, March 9th at 10am in the Callaway Building parking lot along Trinity Ave.  From the City of Decatur’s website

This fun event gives children of all ages a chance to touch, explore and see their favorite truck or equipment on wheels. The City of Decatur fire truck, dump trucks, tractors, police cars, motorcycles, bicycles and many other vehicles will be on display.