Hampton Inn Construction To Begin

The latest Decatur Focus announces that the new hotel on Clairemont is on its way…

Downtown Decatur is getting another hotel. Anyone who has tried to book a room recently at the Decatur Marriott Courtyard knows how frequently it is full. Decatur’s proximity to downtown Atlanta, Emory and CDC, easy access to the Atlanta airport on MARTA and the ability to walk to a number of local retail and restaurant options continue to attract a growing number of visitors to our city.

The new 132-room Hampton Inn and Suites will allow Decatur to host more medium-size conferences at the city-owned conference center. The conference center has enough meeting space but there aren’t enough available hotel rooms to allow it to be used to its full capacity. Building permits for the new hotel have been approved and construction should begin this month.

City arborist Kay Evanovich worked closely with the hotel owner to arrange to have 17 trees relocated from the hotel site to Glenlake Park. Next time you visit the park, look for the new grove of trees located in the upper area of the park near the soccer field.

Decatur Tackles Common “Parking Myths”

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We have long argued and discussed the issue of parking around here.  For evidence of that, feel free to check out my 2010 parking introspective entitled, “Parking: Decatur’s Savior of Businesses or Destroyer of Worlds?

Well, apparently the old parking gripes are rearing their heads again, because the city is looking to debunk some of our most common “parking myths” in the latest Decatur Focus.  Here they are, word for word!

Myth: Decatur doesn’t have enough parking.

What you may not know: ere are more than 2,500 public parking spaces in downtown Decatur. at number includes the privately owned parking decks and lots as well as the 300 metered parking spaces that line the streets. ere is plenty of parking, but not all of it is visible from the street. Due to downtown design standards, parking decks have to be wrapped and hidden by the buildings they serve. Also, developers are required to provide parking to meet residential, retail, and commerical uses in the project. So if a mixed-use apartment complex is built on a piece of land that was a parking lot, the development will include the same amount of public parking spaces in its newly built parking garage.

Myth: Decatur charges a lot for on-street parking because it needs the revenue.

What you may not know: On-street parking is not intended to provide a source of revenue
for the city. Instead, it is a form of parking management that discourages long-term use of the most convenient on-street parking by downtown employees and MARTA patrons. When on- street parking is taken up by business owners or employees regularly, they stand to lose thou- sands of dollars per year in potential revenue. Metered spaces are meant for high turnover and customers planning quick trips. Anyone who intends to stay in downtown Decatur for more than two hours should park in one of the public garages, which o er ample parking.

According to Donald Shoup, author of e High Cost of Free Parking, meters should cost more per hour than parking garages to encourage drivers to park o the street. Currently it costs $2 per hour to park at a meter in downtown Decatur, which is the same or less than most of the downtown parking lots and garages.

Myth: Parking should be free.

What you may not know: ere’s really no such thing as free parking. Even if a driver does not have to pay for his/her parking spot, the cost is passed o elsewhere, whether it’s to the tenant or the customers. According to Parking.org, one on-street parking space is valued at $20,000, an above-ground parking space costs an average of $22,688 to construct, and a subterranean parking space costs between $34,000 and $45,000 to construct. Those numbers don’t even take into account the cost of land and maintenance of the park- ing spaces. While parking is a necessity in cities, free parking is not.

Myth: Parking is hard to find in Decatur.

What you may not know: Parking is abundant in Decatur, but not in the form of highly desirable street parking. You’ll nd most parking spaces in one of the privately owned lots and decks around town. For a map of the downtown parking decks, visit decaturga.com/parking.

Myth: the city’s parking attendants give you a ticket as soon as your meter expires.

What you may not know: Decatur has one full-time and two part-time Parking Assistance Liaison with Merchants and Safety (PALS) that work Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ey monitor all 300 of Decatur’s metered spaces and write parking tickets, but one of their primary responsibil- ities is to serve as ambassadors for Decatur. The turnarounds at North McDonough Street and East Court Square are the most in-demand parking spaces downtown and therefore the most highly monitored spots.

Receiving a ticket for an expired meter can be a frustrating experience. Keep in mind, if you pay to park using the Park Mobile App, you’ll receive a text when your meter is about to expire and have the option of adding more time as long as it is under the two-hour limit.

To learn more about parking in Decatur, visit decaturga.com/parking and download the new parking brochure that lists locations and pricing for all downtown public parking. If you’d like to pick up a hard copy of the brochure, visit the Decatur Visitors Center, 113 Clairemont Ave.

City Responds to Ongoing New Apartments/Student Enrollment Concerns

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In the October issue of the Decatur Focus, the city responds to two key concerns that have popped up around here for many, many, many years.  Namely, “Apartment developments will be flooded with school-aged children.” and  “Apartment developments will cost the school system money.”

So let’s get right to it…

Using existing enrollment numbers and the local tax revenue generated by downtown multi-family buildings, it was shown that these developments created a healthy, positive net income for the school system. For example, property taxes paid on a $700,000 single-family home generally provide enough school tax revenue to cover the local cost of educating one student. The local cost of educating more than one child from a $700,000 home or from homes valued below $700,000 must be covered by other taxpayers. Commercial and multi-family developments, as well as empty nesters and senior citizen homeowners, provide the needed school tax revenue to make up this loss. Here are a few other issues that are frequently topics of conversation:

“Apartment developments will be flooded with school-aged children.”

The primary market for these dwellings is singles and young professionals. These projects fill a gap in Decatur’s housing market by providing a new, urban rental housing option for those looking for the flexibility and freedom from maintenance that rental housing provides. The city has worked closely with the school system’s enrollment consultant to provide information on these anticipated developments so that enrollment effects could be incorporated into estimates of the school system’s growth and expansion plans.

Many assume that these new developments will exceed the school system’s projections but it is important to consider the size of the units in the projects. Of the 624 units currently being built, approximately 69 percent (430) are efficiencies or one-bedroom units. The likelihood of any of these units being inhabited by more than one person is extremely unlikely. The remaining 194 units consist of approximately 30 percent two-bedroom units and only 2 percent three-bedroom units. Using the enrollment consultant’s estimate for potential students from residential apartments, these units would represent an enrollment growth of approximately 27 students. Even if all of the efficiency and one-bedroom units were included, the estimated number of students would be 87.

“Apartment developments will cost the school system money.”

Unlike owner-occupied condominium developments, apartment developments do not qualify for homestead exemptions and are taxed at their full assessed value. The projected local property tax revenue for City Schools of Decatur from the three downtown apartment buildings under construction (Place on Ponce, the Alexan and the Arlo), will be about $715,000 per year. With an estimate of $7,000 in local tax revenue needed to educate one student per year, these three developments will provide local property taxes that cover the costs for 102 students.

  • Using a high-end estimate of potential enrollment of 87 students, the school system will receive at least $105,000 annually to cover costs for other students.
  • Using a mid-range estimate of potential enrollment of 57 students, the school system will receive at least $315,000 annually to cover costs for other students.
  • Using a low-end estimate of potential enrollment of 27 students, the school system will receive at least $525,000 annually to cover costs for other students.

Rendering courtesy of ColeJenest & Stone

City: Book Bindery Building Transforming Into “Retail and Restaurant Center”

The old Bowen Press building at 312 Church Street is one of the more unique buildings in Downtown Decatur.

Bowen operated out of the space until the early 1970s, according to local residents.  (See a 1943 exterior photo of the building here and 1927 interior photo here)

For years the building space behind the street front retail locations (Sapori, the coming Brushstroke Sushi Izakaya, Re/Max) has been rather hidden from the general public, serving as an offices for SafeCo Insurance and most recently a temporary City of Decatur office space.

However, we learned with much fanfare late last year that Guy Wong would soon be opening up a new restaurant, Big Boss Chinese, in part of the space off the street.  And now we learn – via the Decatur Focus – that Trinity Mercantile & Design is moving into and renovating the space, exposing the old barrel vaulted ceilings.church industrial bldg2

Trinity Mercantile & Design is also growing. Owners Lisa Turner and Wallace Bryan are moving the business across the street into a bigger location adjacent to Big Peach Running Co. The new store can be accessed from Church Street or Trinity Place. The new space, once occupied by SafeCo Insurance and used for several years as temporary office space by the City of Decatur, takes advantage of the beautiful, historic architecture of the building.

Take a peek inside and feast your eyes on the gorgeous barrel vaulted ceiling they have exposed.

The city goes on to describe the building a “retail and restaurant center that will bring more energy and foot traffic to this side of the square”.  The blurb also notes that neighboring Sapori di Napoli will also soon be adding a covered patio.

It sure will be interesting to see this space when it’s all built out.

Trinity/Church St. Streetscape Improvements Construction Begins This Month

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From the latest Decatur Focus

Work on streetscape improvements in the Trinity corridor is scheduled to begin this month. This project will expand the streetscape network from the area surrounding the square to the N. Candler intersection. The developer of the Trinity Triangle will pay for streetscape improvements around this project to close the gap and create a much improved pedestrian and cycling experience. This portion of the streetscape project will also extend improvements down Church Street from Trinity Place to the tunnel under the railroad tracks.

If you’re in need of a reminder, the city’s website describes the project thusly…

The Phase V Downtown Decatur Streetscape project area includes the south side of East Trinity Place from North McDonough Street to Church Street, both sides of East Trinity Place from Church Street to just past the Fire Station, and Church Street from East Trinity Place south to East Howard Avenue. The purpose of the project is to improve accessibility and safety for pedestrians and to reduce conflicts between pedestrians and motorists. Potential improvements will be located in the public right of way and will include new sidewalks, crosswalks, curb ramps, street trees, pedestrian scale lights, and trash receptacles.

Conceptual Plan rendering courtesy of City of Decatur website

City Considers Alternatives to East Howard Ave Pedestrian & Bike Detours

easthoward2From this month’s Decatur Focus

We are considering alternatives to the pedestrian and cycling detours in place because of the closing of E. Howard Avenue between Church Street and the former Dairy Queen. First, let’s put the rumors to rest about why the street was closed.  The was done to provide a staging area for the Trinity Triangle development to limit the conflicts between construction activity and traffic on Trinity.  When construction is finished, the street will be reopened.

We originally planned to run the construction fence along the edge of the PATH trail along this block of E. Howard in order to keep it open.  However, that plan would have included a crosswalk right at the railroad tracks for pedestrians and bicyclists, creating a very unsafe situation.  Cars traveling north across the tracks have a limited view of cyclists and pedestrians as they come over the crest of the railroad crossing.  Because a portion of the sidewalk around the former Diary Queen is still intact, there is a possibility of moving the crossing slightly away from the tracks and reopening the PATH trail for a few more months.

However, with the construction of Phase V of the downtown streetscape improvements starting in early 2015 and the ongoing construction of the Trinity Triangle, this area will continue to be less safe for pedestrians and bicyclists and detours will still be needed to provide safer options.  We are looking at creative solutions to address the problem by we are going to need your patience and flexibility for the next year or so as detours and crossing locations change.

Anyone want to offer any creative solutions?  Here’s a map of the area if you need it!

Decatur Combines Electronic, Styrofoam and Shredding Recycling For October Event

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From the September Decatur Focus

Recycle your old electronics and styrofoam and safely shred and recycle your documents all in one place. it’s simple and convenient. Just drop off your recyclables 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (sorry, early drop-offs are not possible.)

Since we started in 2005, we’ve diverted more than 1,000,000 pounds of electronics from landfills. contact sean Woodson at 404-377-5571 or [email protected] for more information and last-minute updates, or visit decaturga.com/electronicsrecycling.

Paper Shredding

this is a great opportunity to ensure that your important personal documents are dis- posed of properly. aaa security shredding provides secure on-site document shredding, and all shredded documents will be 100 percent recycled. Most document types are ac- ceptable, including bills, invoices, correspondence, canceled checks, tax records, financial statements, purchase orders, and blueprints and maps.

these items cannot be shredded: cardboard, glass, plastic, magazines, napkins, news- papers, paper cups and plates, plastic or sprial-bound notebooks, phonebooks, three-ring binders, and trash.

Styrofoam recycling

• Make sure foam has the “6” symbol on it
• rinse and separate food service containers from other foam • No straws, lids, tape or stickers
• No foam peanuts or insulation material