City: Callaway Development “Reflects Priorities and Safeguards”

With the recent demolition of the old rusty, asbestos-laden DeKalb County Callaway Building, the City of Decatur is taking a moment to consider the bigger picture, noting that the coming Cousins’ development embodies many components of the city’s planning efforts.

Posted by Deputy City Manager Hugh Saxon, the article includes many interesting facts about the project.  Here’s a summary:

  • Office Space: “It will include 329 residential units, 65% of which are studio and one bedroom dwellings; 18,000 square feet of retail space; and Decatur’s first new office building in over 20 years, providing 33,750 square feet of Class A office space.”
  • $$$!: “the project will finally return the site’s 4.7 acres to the city’s tax rolls, reversing DeKalb County’s tax exempt status that’s been in effect for the past half century.” That’s approximately “$560,000 a year to the City Schools of Decatur and $280,000 a year to the city’s General Fund”
  • Trees: “137 native trees…Featured species will include Oaks, Elms, Hornbeams, Dogwoods, Hemlocks, and Cedars, among others.”
  • Bikes: project will be “bordered on three sides by dedicated bicycle facilities”.
  • LEED: “…downtown’s first commercial project to comply with the city’s high performance building ordinance.”  The development is currently seeking Silver LEED certification, with a hope of Gold.
  • Public Plaza: “The N. McDonough side of the project will feature an internal public plaza with fountain, fronted all around by commercial and live/work spaces and allowing for pedestrian access across and throughout the site.”

The article concludes by noting that the project is on track to be completed in two years, in Spring 2019.

Decatur Launches Website To Help Residents Keep Up With Construction Projects

decatur aerial

Check out the city’s new website,, to keep up-to-date on all the construction around the city for the next year and a half.  Here’s the release…

The City of Decatur has launched a new website and communications program — dubbed “Extreme Makeover: Downtown Decatur Edition” — to keep residents informed and moving throughout an upcoming period of potentially disruptive construction projects.

“It’s a fairly unique situation,” said Deputy City Manager Hugh Saxon, “one requiring a unique response.”

Between streetscape overhauls, infrastructure repair, safety enhancements, and development projects, there’s a lot planned or in the works for the city’s downtown over the next 12 to 18 months. And much of it involves overlapping timelines, which amplifies the potential for inconvenience.

Officials hope better, more accessible information will give residents the tools they need to plan ahead and work their way around any disruptions.

From now until the list of planned projects is complete, the website will serve as the hub of a larger program to keep residents informed — offering timely, ongoing status updates, email and social media alerts, and overviews in the city’s Focus newsletter.

Included are opportunities to:

  • + Review a map of projects in various stages of implementation.
  • + Read the latest status updates for what to expect, and what to avoid.
  • + Sign up for email alerts issued whenever new circumstances arise.
  • + Follow the city on Facebook and Twitter.

Residents are invited to visit the site and join the email list at or via the city’s website at

Decatur Anticipates Railroad Crossing Improvements Construction to Start in Early 2016

candler crossing

Tonight, the Decatur City Commission will consider signing an agreement with CSX in the amount of $230,000 to pay for a critical piece of the long-discussed (we been talking about it since at LEAST 2009!) railroad crossing improvements at McDonough and Candler Streets.

According to a letter from Deputy City Manager Hugh Saxon to the commission, this amount is related to the construction that will occur within the CSX right-of-way. CSX requires that it will install the new surfaces in the right of way at both crossings and review and approve all plans.

According to Mr. Saxon, CSX estimates the costs for this piece of the project as…

  • Engineering and Construction Inspections – $37,000
  • McDonough Crossing – Flagging and Construction – $96,500
  • Candler Crossing – Flagging and Construction – $96,500

Check out the original plan for the Candler crossing above and the McDonough crossing below.   You can also find out more about these projects on the city’s website.

The City was awarded Transportation Enhancement project money for a large part of the total cost for these crossing improvements way back in 2008, but all the coordination with the many parties involved (CSX, GDOT, etc), destined it to be a long, drawn out process.  Could it finally be happening?

mcdonough crossing

Decatur City Commission Set to Award Oakhurst Streetscape/Harmony Park Expansion Bid

Looks like the Oakhurst Streetscape Improvements are finally ready to get underway.

The Decatur City Commission is set to vote tonight to accept the low bid from Construction Management & Engineering Services of Norcross to make the long time coming Oakhurst Streetscape Improvements.  (They’ve been in progress so long that the project name requires capitalization!)

The project is bid out at $1.4 million, according to a letter from Asst. City Manager Hugh Saxon, with a project budget of a little over $2 million.  A bit more than half of the funding will come from GDOT’s Transportation Enhancement program and the rest will come from the city’s bond project funds.

According to Mr. Saxon, the project will include…

  • New sidewalks
  • Street trees
  • Streetlights
  • Street furniture
  • relocation of the existing parking area and a modest expansion of Harmony Park
  • a rain garden
  • drainage improvements
  • milling and repaving for Oakhurst commercial district

The project is projected to take 12 months to complete

Decatur Traffic Signal Upgrade Project Pushed Back To 2017

In discussing the coming North McDonough Streetscape Improvement project at Monday’s Decatur City Commission meeting — which Deputy City Manager Hugh Saxon sounded sure would happen next summer (You may recall that Decatur first secured $1.77 million grant funding for this project way back in April 2010) — he mentioned a couple of other items that may be of interest…

1.  The traffic signal upgrades that Decatur is working with DeKalb County to implement has been pushed back two years.  When I spoke with the City Manager last summer she said that the timeline had installation happening late 2014/early 2015. Mr. Saxon mentioned at Monday’s meeting that the project isn’t likely to be implemented until 2017.  Past Citizen Surveys have shown that traffic signal timing is one of the most common transportation-related complaints in Decatur.

2.  All of Howard Avenue is part of CSX’s right-of-way.  Did you know that?  I didn’t.

A Closer Look at the North McDonough Road Project – Begins in June 2015


Included in a report from Decaturish late last week – about the North McDonough Streetscape Improvements and how it relates to renovating Decatur High Schoo – was this nugget…

The streetscape project will begin in June of 2015 and will last for 12 months. The city will shrink the road from four lanes to two in order to make it friendlier for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Upon request, Deputy City Manager Hugh Saxon provided DM with a digital version (PDF) of the most recent streetscape plan so that everyone can get a closer look what North McDonough will eventually look like once the project is completed.

Click the PDF link above or the photo to view the plans up close.

Georgia EPD Monitoring Fuel Spill at Beacon Hill Site

fuel spill

A reader sent in photographs to DM and Decaturish yesterday documenting evidence of a fuel spill into Peavine Creek at the Beacon Hill construction site.

Decaturish followed up with Deputy City Manager Hugh Saxon, who said that the Georgia Environmental Protection Division had been alerted by someone that the stream smelled like fuel downstream near Vickers Drive.  They investigated and found a hydrolic fuel tank that had overturned during heavy rains this past weekend. The EPD is now monitoring clean up.  More from Decaturish HERE.

oil in water

Oil in Peavine Creek behind The Marlay