Callaway Development Back Before Commission with More Office Space

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 12.35.20 PM

New Rendering – Callaway Site


Old rendering – Callaway Site

The Cousins Calloway development is back before the City Commission tonight (agenda item here), after the city sent the developer back to the drawing board last September for not including enough retail or office space in its plan.

A note from Asst. City Manager Lyn Menne summarized the changes thusly…

  • Reduces the number of residential units overall by 40 units (from 369 to 329).

  • Adds 30,000 sf of upper floor office space to the building in the northeast corner of the site.

  • Removes a round entry lobby on the southwest side of the new office building and a pedestrian bridge originally designed to connect upper floor residential uses.

  • Provides for a total of 721 parking spaces (an increase of 19 parking spaces to accommodate the increased office space).

  • Removes the black box theater space and replaces it with three additional live work units to create three more small office options for a total of eight live work units.

Ms. Menne states that the Decatur Downtown Development Authority Board supports the revised site plan.

Renderings courtesy of Smith Dalia

Purchase of Scott Boulevard Corner Brings Woodlands’ Plan Closer To Reality

woodlands corner

Have you seen this lovely rendering of this corner of Scott Boulevard and Clairemont?

In December, Woodlands Garden closed on the 1 acre adjacent property, two months after the city commission rezoned it from residential to institutional. The property was originally purchased by the Downtown Development Authority for $695,000 in order to save it from development, with the intention of selling it to Woodlands.

Woodlands states on its website that the additional 1 acre “…will give Woodlands a highly visible and safe entryway, provide additional parking space, and preserve the land from future development.”

Woodlands has planned an extensive renovation/expansion including…

  • A completed visitors center and the addition of public restrooms
  • Improved parking and “a safe school bus drop-off zone”
  • Enhancement of the former Morse home, “adding amenities for hosting community events”

woodlands parking

The Woodlands website states that “These improvements have been planned with the help of noted landscape architecture firm TSW to support increased public traffic without compromising the “haven” quality of the garden.”

You can view their extensive Master Plan HERE.

Renderings courtesy of Woodlands Master Plan

What’s With All Those Green Ribbons On Trees Around Decatur?


Curious what’s up with all the green ribbons tied to trees around the city?

A note from the Woodlands Garden explains its part of a capital campaign to help the Garden raise $1 million to purchase the one-acre parcel at Scott and Clairemont adjacent to the Garden.  The Decatur Downtown Development Authority purchased the property back in August 2014 and as of then, the Woodlands Garden had 18 months to purchase it.

The Woodlands website states that “This purchase will give Woodlands a highly visible and safe entryway, provide additional parking space, and preserve the land from future development.”.

For every ribbon purchased, a match ribbon is hung on the trees at 915 Clairemont Avenue.  As of early September, The Garden were 2/3rds of the way to reaching their goal.  I’ve followed up to see if I can get an updated figure.

According to the organization, “you can grab your ribbons today at Woodlands Garden in Decatur, Intown Ace Hardware (Scott Boulevard) and Little Shop of Stories (Downtown Decatur). You can also place an order online through the Woodlands Garden website and have them delivered to your doorstep.

First Look at Cousins’ Development Plan for Callaway Site


At the Decatur Downtown Development Authority meeting last month, AMLI/Cousins presented the latest version of the Callaway Site Plan.

The architect Smith Dalia’s website describes the project thusly…

In the heart of Decatur, a joint venture between Cousins Properties and AMLI is transforming a five-acre urban site into a lively mixed-use environment with 361 units, five live-work [artist or other small business] spaces and ~ 20,000 sf of retail/commercial space. A parking deck will not be visible from the street. The development will offer housing and walkable retail choices for Decatur’s burgeoning in-town community.

The building aptly responds to the context of a small town square. A challenging site with 40′ grade differentials is answered by a graceful terraced design.  Elemental materials have been selected with cues from the surrounding context, including stone, glass and metal. Amenities abound with two rooftop terraces, one featuring a bird’s eye view of the Decatur High School football stadium, and one overlooking Decatur square. Other amenities include a bike shop and a screened in porch on the now-developing north public plaza. This Type III-over podium design is tracking LEED for Homes Silver.

At the last DDA meeting, the development team asked for the DDA’s support for a list of exceptions related to “topographic challenges”.

According to the draft minutes from the meeting, AMLI/Cousins is requesting the following variances due to the following conditions…

  • The facade length along Trinity is difficult to break up but efforts were made to create step backs and changes
  • Some units on Commerce sit above the street level creating some walls that exceed the height limits because of the grade but these have been turned into planters to soften the look.
  • The step back of the building on N. McDonough exceeds requirements but this was done to accommodate the bicycle track that is being installed because of streetscape improvements.
  • The design team added elevations and sections to show what the sidewalks will look like along the street. They have combined the sidewalk and patio area to create more of an urban feel along Trinity and North McDonough. The team worked with Hugh on streetscapes and tried to even out the grades as much as possible.

City staff recommended support, but with several notable conditions listed in the DDA resolution

First, they have asked that the east-west street be changed from a private drive “to an unrestricted two-way street to improve the existing street grid system”.

They also asked that Cousins make “additional design changes to the southern elevation of the exposed parking garage to include a change of color on the solid vertical walls to reinforce the pattern of the residential buildings to the east and west of the deck and the addition of a cornice/parapet at the top of the building to mimic the treatment of the residential buildings within the proposed development.”

Additionally, they have requested “approximately 3,000 square foot unimproved shell space to the Authority /City of Decatur rent free for a minimum of 25 years to be built out for use as a small performing arts space.

And finally, the Authority has put  it in writing that the developer should be consulting with them “throughout the design development and permitting stage on issues and changes including, but not limited to, plans, building materials, and construction details.”

With that all in mind, here are a variety of plans and renderings of AMLI/Cousins development to give you more context on how the project is currently planned…

Continue reading “First Look at Cousins’ Development Plan for Callaway Site”

Woodlands Garden Provides Details on Expansion Plan

Back when it was announced that the Woodlands Garden would be acquiring the adjacent property at the corner of Clairemont and Scott Boulevard, many you wondered about their plans for the site.  This letter released this morning from their Board gives a glimpse of what’s to come…

To our Neighbors and Friends:

Woodlands Garden of Decatur, Inc. is pleased to announce plans to acquire the property located at 915 Clairemont Avenue, at the northeast corner of Scott Boulevard and Clairemont Avenue.  This property was recently purchased by the Decatur Development Authority.  Woodlands has signed an agreement with the Authority that gives us 18 months to raise the funds to purchase the property from the Authority.

This is a tremendous opportunity for Woodlands to preserve the green space at this highly visible location and to provide improved access to the Garden.  Plans for how to integrate this new property are not complete, but we expect changes to our green space that will allow safe entry and exit, some additional parking, and new plantings consistent with our current Garden.

We are also developing master plan improvements for our current 7 acres.   This additional property will provide further opportunity to enhance the Woodlands experience and beautify the corner.  Ultimately, the beauty and serenity of the Garden is our focus.  The improvements we make over the next two years will allow our community to more easily experience Woodlands Garden.

Visit us at and stroll through the Garden often.  We will keep you informed as we move toward acquisition of the property.  As always, we deeply appreciate your support.

The Board of Directors and Staff of Woodlands Garden of Decatur

City & DDA Looking to Purchase New Holiday Decorations

Remember the upside down tree decorations last year?  And how when they didn’t measure up to anyone’s standards, the city replaced them with the old wreaths?

Well, apparently some of those wreaths are 20 years old, so the city and Downtown Development Authority are looking to replace the decorations along with the contractor hired to install them.

From the Decatur City Commission meeting agenda this evening, Asst. City Manager Lyn Menne writes…

The purpose of this memorandum is to request approval to enter into a contract with Universal Concepts for the installation of holiday decorations for the 2014 season.  We bid out the project this year and selected Universal Concepts.    Universal Concepts presented us with the highest level of product recommendations at the lowest cost for installation.  This company is well-respected in the industry and we have worked with them in the past.

Many of the holiday wreaths we currently have in stock are over 20 years old and they show it.   Last year we tried to switch out some of the older wreaths with a different design but the result was less than satisfactory.  We also had a very bad experience with the installation services provided by our former contractor.  Universal Concepts’ proposal includes the purchase of 150 new wreaths for the street lamps, refurbishing 50 of our newer wreaths, lighting downtown street trees and shrubbery, lighting of the bandstand and lighting on all city-owned buildings.   LED lights will be used in all installations and the tree lights will remain through the winter months.  The proposal includes the installation, take down and storage of all decorations.  We propose to add to the inventory over the next few years until we have all new wreaths for the street lamps in downtown and for the Oakhurst business district.  We also asked that simple decoration schemes be developed for each city building to reflect its architectural style.  We plan to add these new items over the next five years.

The total cost for this proposal is $107,000.    We are requesting $50,000 from the City of Decatur to support this project.  The balance of the funds will be paid by the Downtown Development Authority and the Beer Festival fund.   This amount is included in the Community & Economic Development Department budget for FY 2015.  I recommend approval of this request.

Photo courtesy of Chris


Woodlands Garden In Process of Acquiring Neighboring Property with Help of Downtown Development Authority

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 9.02.23 AM

On the agenda for tonight’s Decatur City Commission meeting, Decatur’s Downtown Development Authority is set to purchase the property at 915 Clairemont Avenue for $695,000 and enter into an agreement with Woodlands Garden, who will make monthly interest-only payments on the property for 18 months.

After 18 months, Woodlands will need to purchase the property or the DDA can sell the property to anyone.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps