A big moment for Decatur’s big property with big potential is here.
The city has announced over on the Decatur Next website that they’ll be unveiling the first draft for the United Methodist Children’s Home 77-acre property next Monday, April 30th from 6p-8p in the Ebster Rec Center gym.
The draft comes after two months of kickoffs, civic dinners and workshops.
The post also notes that over $40 mil has already been spent on the site in recent months so cost in the near-term is a very important consideration. As such, the site notes “…the most viable strategies will be dependent on the strength of partnerships we’re able to forge — local authorities and institutions, nonprofit organizations, developers, community foundations, or others able to bring both financial and operational resources to the table.”
Should be very interesting to see what the community has come up with!
Dodging rain showers throughout the afternoon, over 400 people turned out on Sunday, February 11 to begin a process many have been dreaming of for nearly a year — ever since Mayor Patti Garrett announced in 2017’s State of the City address that Decatur was in talks with the UMCH organization to acquire the historic, 77 acre property.
After weeks of online announcements, a soaring aerial video, and a postcard mailed to every city address, they came in droves, loaded up with enthusiastic ideas ready to be shared. Hundreds, if not thousands of ways the former Children’s Home property could be used, repurposed, preserved, developed, programmed, or otherwise put in the service of the greater Decatur community.
What’s next? The city is planning Civic Dinners and a series of interactive workshops throughout March and April to flush out ideas and prioritize goals. Details over at Decatur Next.
Oh and here’s Mayor Garrett’s thank you video message from the event…
The kick-off Visioning meeting for the Methodist Children’s Home property will take place on Sunday, February 11th.
But that’s just the beginning. There are a lot of ideas to work through for this unique 77 acre property – as the video above showcases – so the city has extensive plans to collect and work through all of those options.
I am excited to announce that the time has come for the community to come together and create a vision for this property. On Sunday, Feb. 11 we will host a kick-off celebration and visioning workshop from 1-5 p.m. at the Children’s Home location (500 South Columbia Dr. Decatur, GA 30030). You are invited to join us as we imagine the possibilities.
Updates and workshop schedules will be posted on Decaturnext.com and via our social media channels. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
On August 16, 2017 the sale of approximately 77 acres of property owned by the United Methodist Children’s Home of the North Georgia Conference to the Decatur Public Facilities Authority was completed. The process of acquiring the property took almost nine months and was made possible through the cooperation and support of many people and agencies.
City of Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett said, “We appreciate all of the assistance we have received in making this project a success. We have had a wonderful working relationship with the Board, staff and others affiliated with the UMCH.” She added, “all of this would not have been possible without the help of Georgia General Assembly, particularly Senator Elena Parent and Representatives Drenner, Mosby, Oliver and Shannon who were instrumental in establishing the Decatur Public Facilities Authority.”
“This property acquisition is an exciting legacy opportunity for the City of Decatur and the Decatur Public Facilities Authority has been glad to assist in making this happen,” said Authority Chair Meredith Struby. Ms. Struby noted that “the community support for this project has been exciting and through late fall, 2017 the United Methodist Children’s Home will be transitioning to a new location in Tucker.
City Manager Peggy Merriss stated, “There are facilities on the property which will be used by the City to meet the current demand for Active Living programming, including significant upgrades to the playing fields.” Ms. Merriss thanked the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority for their assistance is securing a very low interest loan that allowed for more than 22 acres of the property to be dedicated for use as permanently protected conservation area.
In January, 2018 the City will begin a community-based master planning effort to determine the future use of the property.
The City of Decatur Public Facilities Authority was awarded an $11,452,000 Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) loan by the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) executive committee.
The loan will finance the acquisition of 22.08 acres of land as part of the United Methodist Children’s Home land purchase of 77 total acres. This project will permanently protect the land for the purpose of conservation and public recreation.
The city will pay 1.70 percent interest on the 30-year loan. The loan will finance an eligible conservation project, which qualifies for a reduced interest rate.
On April 25, 2017, City of Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett, the UMCH President and CEO, Rev. Hal Jones, and Debby Stikes, Chair of the UMCH Board of Trustees, met to sign the sale agreement for the $40 Million purchase of the approximately 77 acre UMCH property adjacent to the southeastern city limits of the City of Decatur.
Mayor Patti Garrett said, “We are so excited to keep this project moving forward and I am proud to be able to represent the Decatur City Commission in executing the contract that will start the process of making the purchase happen.”
Proceeds of the sale will support the UMCH mission in new communities according to Rev. Jones, who said “we are committed to reaching out to, and serving, the alarming and growing number of children and families who are in crisis. The sale of the Decatur property helps us expand this ministry across North Georgia.” Board Chair Debby Stikes added that “preserving the Moore Chapel and the gravesite of UMCH’s founder Rev. Dr. Jesse Boring was very important to the Board, to members of our alumni group, and to countless others across North Georgia who partner with us in this ministry. We are delighted with the City’s support in honoring the memories created on this property.”
It is anticipated that the UMCH will vacate the property by late summer or early fall, 2017. Once the City owns and takes possession of the property, the City will annex the acreage and begin a community-based master planning effort engaging nearby neighborhoods, UMCH alumni and other stakeholders to help determine a vision and plan for future use.