Decatur Gets $1.77 Million For N. McDonough Streetscape Improvements

North McDonough sure has come a long way in the past couple years.

Once one of Decatur’s least inviting streets, home to little more than front of the Decatur High School and the western facade of the Marble House, this major city corridor has new life in recent years with the addition of new businesses like Village Vets and Relics & Rarities and of course the High School’s new auditorium and stadium.

And now Decatur can finally put the icing on the cake.

Just last month, the city heard that it had received preliminary approval of a $1.77 million grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Livable Centers Initiative to make improvements to McDonough’s streetscape.

Assitant City Manager Lyn Menne notes…

We had applied several times in the past but hadn’t gotten the grant – for several reasons I think. They try to spread the funding around and we have several streetscape projects in the works. It also helps that we have funding in place for the intersection improvement at the railroad intersection at the south end and funding in place for streetscape improvements along Trinity at the northern end of this corridor and the high school construction is completed and should generate more pedestrian activity with the gym, performing arts center and stadium improvements. All the pieces were in place to complete this last bit of the network to the south side and Agnes Scott.

The city will have to match 20% of the cost – around $354,000 – which is available from the Capital Bond Project Fund.

North Druid Corridor Plans For All Kinds of Growth

DeKalb commish Jeff Rader alerts his constituents of a North Druid Hills LCI (Livable Centers Initiative) Kickoff at the DeKalb International Student Center (formerly Kittredge Magnet School) at 2383 N. Druid Hills Road from 6:30-8:30pm on November 17th.

The plan itself (PDF) has noble, New Urbanisty goals, but seems to walk an awkward line between wanting to maximize driving efficiency – into and through the corridor – while also developing the kinds of density that should promote more pedestrian activity.

And while I recognize compromise as essential component of any real-world “initiative” or plan, any infrastructure that attempts to promote a sidewalk lifestyle, while simultaneously making driving MORE convienent seems doomed to disappoint both drivers and peds alike.

East Decatur Redevelopment Requires Columbia Annexation

In a bit of musical chairs, the city of Decatur is looking to annex nine parcels along Columbia Drive to provide new homes for the Quaker “Friends School of Atlanta” and an AT&T work center. Both organizations currently own property in an area that Decatur plans to put to new use as part of redevelopment in the Avondale Station Livable Centers Initiative. Their new locations will be on the edge of the LCI district.

From GoDeKalb

Lyn Menne, assistant city manager of community and economic development, said the master plan called for a public park space at the Bell South facility site and mixed-use development at the current school site. She said the school wanted to remain in the city.

In her report to the City Commission presented at their Nov. 5 meeting, City Manager Peggy Merriss said the annexation request involved about 8.5 acres at 814-874 Columbia Drive.

There will be public hearings on Dec. 6 and 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Decatur City Hall regarding rezoning applications for the property involved in the annexation.

UPDATE: The City Commission follows through.

What's In Store For East Ponce?

I’m beginning to feel a bit like a development junkie. Whenever there’s a little tidbit of information that might indicate a new shop, business, restaurant or trend in this city, I jump on it like a dog in heat (you’re welcome for the lovely visual).

So, here’s my latest fix.

GoDeKalb reports that DeKalb County is seeking a Livable Centers Grant for the part of Ponce that runs between the Avondale MARTA Station and Clarkston. Ironically, just today as my wife and I drove down to the Paddywax Factory Store and Kudzu, I commented on how that area was in the midst of a turn around. Five years ago, Kudzu and Pin Ups strip club were the only real landmarks between Avondale MARTA and the universally awesome DeKalb Farmer’s Market. Today, there’s the Progressive Auto Center (which relocated Kudzu down the street), a new Enterprise Rental Car Lot, Wag-A-Lot, Paddywax, and the under-construction Pangaea.

What does this LCI grant request mean? It means that DeKalb County recognizes the economic potential of this once struggling corridor and is thinking about a hard push for mixed use development along the strip. Regardless of what the study ultimately says, we all have to begin getting use to the idea of a revitalized East Ponce. The Farmer’s Market and Decatur are just too darn popular throughout the region to not expect new shops pop up in all directions.

Aside from Pin Ups patrons, many residents from Stone Mountain to Decatur will see this as a great step forward. Others might be a bit uncomfortable with the Decatur area becoming too chic, as was commented on this site with the announcement that Pangaea was setting up shop on Ponce. Ultimately, we’d be blind not to see it coming. It won’t happen overnight, but we’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t think that the winds of change are blowing east. Look out sleepy Scottdale…you’re next!

It should be an interesting ride. Stay tuned.

Ahhh…What a rush!