Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Suburban Plaza update: Starbucks, LA Fitness

The Cross-Neighborhoods Committee has some Suburban Plaza updates. First, some timelines:

  • Walmart construction is scheduled to begin in October 2014, with the store expected to open on February or March of 2016.  
  • LA Fitness (old Winn Dixie building) has been granted their land disturbance permit and is in the process of applying for their building permit. Demolition of that building should begin soon. 
  • The Starbucks drive-through SLUP was approved by the Board of Commissioners on September 23.
  • Selig plans to begin facade and parking lot renovations in January 2015. 
  • Selig is in final negotiations with two junior anchor tenants.  As soon as the contracts are signed, they will release their names.

A refresher: the last available map we shared on August 2014. Click to enlarge.

Greg Catoe at Selig Enterprises also shared some additional updates about Starbucks and LA Fitness.

With regards to Starbucks, Selig is seeking a variance for the Starbucks building to be built closer to North Decatur Road (5 feet away from their property line, vs the 75 feet required by our code of ordinances). This would allow pedestrians to access to Starbucks directly from the sidewalk that Selig will be adding along that side of North Decatur Road.

At a tilt, to align with the master plan: this is a close-up of the future LA Fitness and Starbucks. This is the side
of the development closest to the North Decatur Road and Church Street intersection. Click to enlarge.
"Suburban Plaza LLC  is requesting a front yard setback variance  be granted to allow a drive-through restaurant to be constructed at 2641 North Decatur Road, which is part of our Suburban Plaza shopping center property that is currently being redeveloped to include several new tenants including, among others,  Walmart and LA Fitness. The proposed tenant for this building will be Starbucks Coffee.  This variance application is seeking relief from the 75’ front yard setback requirement as noted in Sec. 27-581 of the DeKalb County Code of Ordinances.

The proposed Starbucks will be approximately 1,750 s.f and will be situated approximately 5’ back from our property line along North Decatur Road. To accommodate this new building, an existing 2,000 s.f. building that currently encroaches upon the required 75’ setback by approximately 40’ will be demolished (the former Pizza Hut). With the sole exception of the front yard setback, our proposed site plan meets all requirements of the existing DeKalb County Code of Ordinances and it  has also been designed to meet all the requirements governing drive-through restaurants in Article 4.2.23 of the zoning ordinance update that is anticipated to be adopted in the coming months.

A Special Land Use Permit for the drive-through component was approved by the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners on September 23rd, 2014."

Selig "has not received the official documentation from the planning department noting our approval and the conditions" but Catoe will update the Cross Neighborhoods Committee upon receipt. Selig is continuing to study and refine the details of the crosswalks to ensure the safety of those shopping at the center.

Below are some depictions of the LA Fitness building's exterior.

 Details of the LA Fitness building. This image has been split into five views,
below, to improve online visibility. Click to enlarge.

1. Southwest view, as seen from existing Suburban Plaza stores such as BigLots.  Click to enlarge.

2. Northeast view, from the general direction of the North Decatur  Road and Church Street intersection. Click to enlarge.

3. Northwest view, as seen from the North Decatur Road and Blackmon Drive intersection area. Click to enlarge.

4. Southeast view, frontage, main entrance as visible from Church Street.  Click to enlarge.

5. Legend describing colors and materials. Click to enlarge.

Reminder: "Blueprint for DeKalb" [Sept 30]

September 30, 6:30 pm, Maloof Auditorium, 1300 Commerce Dr., Decatur, GA, 30030


Thursday, September 25, 2014

City of Decatur not interested in annexing Medlock Park neighborhood

From Lynn Ganim, MANA Acting President 

Many people in the Medlock neighborhood have expressed interest in, and in some cases hope for, being annexed by the City of Decatur. On September 21 MANA Board members met at our request with Decatur Mayor Jim Basket, Commissioner Fred Boykin and City Manager Peggy Merris to discuss the City of Decatur's expanded annexation map (now engulfing the Medline LCI study) and its impact on the Medlock neighborhood. We repeatedly expressed our concerns that Decatur’s interest in our surrounding businesses has negative effects on the viability of any new city that may include us. It seems unfair that Decatur's interests should have priority over those of other County residents who will be negatively impacted by Decatur's annexation plan. We also asked if Medlock should include annexation into the City of Decatur as an option for our neighborhood in our upcoming survey.

The gist of Decatur's response is that they are not interested in annexing the Medlock neighborhood or any other significant residential area because of the effect on the Decatur schools. There were no qualifications in their response. That door (or should we say “gateway”) is not open to us.

Decatur representatives emphasized their desire to control the main “gateways” to their city, with Mayor Baskett expressing dismay over the DeKalb County-approved development of Suburban Plaza as an example. The elephant in the room: why didn’t Decatur move to assume stewardship of these “gateways” a mere few years ago when they were underdeveloped? The first annexation wave came following the announcement that Suburban Plaza was to be redeveloped; the expanded map followed the Medline LCI study completion. City of Decatur officials did not express concern over the effect of their plans on other areas of the county, including Medlock, except to say that the moves towards municipalization in the county had impelled their decisions.

Decatur acknowledged that individual homeowners adjacent to the proposed commercial annexation areas can request to be included. Individuals included in the annexation plan who wish to be excluded can request to be removed. See Decatur’s annexation page here.

It appears that at this point our choices include being annexed into Atlanta (assuming Clairmont Heights and Druid Hills also decide on the same course of action), being included in a new city (whatever compromise Lakeside and Briarcliff or the legislature determines,) or remaining in a possibly dramatically smaller unincorporated DeKalb County.

We face complex choices involving many variable and unknowns. Soon we hope to distribute summary information sheets to make it easier for everyone to see what is involved in each of our available choices. We will also conduct a survey, as legislators and others are very interested in having a reliable record of our opinions. MANA is working diligently on survey design and distribution logistics; we will follow soon with additional information and survey timelines.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

New ways to support fundraising at Laurel Ridge Elementary

Laurel Ridge Elementary has some new ways you can help support the school's educational mission - both are quick, free, easy, and allow you to turn the shopping that you're already doing into additional dollars to support local public education.

For those who are smartphone users, Shoparoo offers an easy way to scan receipts using the free Shoparoo mobile app that turns pictures of your shopping receipts into cash donations for Laurel Ridge. It doesn't matter where you shop or what you buy - every receipt adds up to funding that can help support your local elementary school.

After testing the app, it seems pretty easy and folks at the school are telling me that the dollars are already starting to add up. Receipts from stores that sell grocery items return instant cash to the school (think Publix, Target, Kroger, convenience stores, dollar stores...) and receipts from other retailers earn entries for cash prizes.

More details are available at the Shoparoo website.

Kroger Community Rewards

Another great opportunity for folks to help Laurel Ridge Elementary with fundraising that is easy and painless.  Kroger will donate a percentage of your purchase to Laurel Ridge through your Kroger Plus card!  Just create an account and choose Laurel Ridge as your community partner. Use the following link to start earning money for Laurel Ridge today!

1.     Select your preferred store which may be:

        2205 Lavista Rd Ne, Atlanta, GA 30329 (Toco Hills Store)

        2875 N Decatur Rd, Decatur, GA 30033 (Dekalb Industrial Store)

2.    Enter your Kroger Plus card number.

3.    Scroll to the bottom of the page to “Community Rewards and choose Laurel  Ridge as your school!
That’s it!  Laurel Ridge earns money every time you shop at Kroger and use your Kroger Plus Card!

We've mentioned Box Tops for Education and Coke Rewards at several of our past community meetings - these are still a great fundraiser for Laurel Ridge Elementary, so don't stop collecting! You can either bring them to a community meeting or contact Tanya Myers at medlockassoc@gmail.com for pickup.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Old stuff is new: vintage sales around town

The AJC alerts us to 3 vintage sales happening around Atlanta.

One of the sales will take place later this month in front of the Decatur High School, sponsored by www.therevivalofvintage.com:

"10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 27-28 in front of Decatur High School, 310 N. McDonough St., Decatur. Free. (Free parking at DeKalb County Courthouse deck at East Trinity Place at Commerce Drive.) 

The Country Living Fair is one of three national shows, attracting 150-plus vendors from across the country, organized by the home design magazine that moved this year from New York to Birmingham, Ala. The sprawling outdoor marketplace offers a wide range of treasures: shabby chic decor, architectural elements, jewelry and clothing, primitives, garden pieces and folk art and crafts." Read the rest @ AJC

WABE on annexation

via http://www.decaturga.com/Modules/ShowDocument.aspdocumentid=5373
Red/pinkish areas labeled A-D denote areas Decatur wants to annex; yellow/orangeish
areas are in Avondale Estates' annexation plan. Medlock neighborhood labeled in yellow.
In "DeKalb Cityhood Movement Affects Decatur's Annexation Plans," Lisa George at WABE (Atlanta's NPR station) reports on annexation hopefuls vying for commercial properties along North Decatur Road (Suburban Plaza, Scott Blvd. Baptist Church/Fuqua Development, Medline LCI study area, and Emory Commons/Clairmont Rd businesses). Referring to unincorporated residents:

“If they’re shopping in that shopping center, then and that shopping center is going into a city, then they should go into that city,” says Allen Venet. He heads the City of Briarcliff Initiative, which is now working with the Lakeside group to draw borders for a new city that will likely touch Decatur. 

“We hope to be able to draw our map in a way that complements them as best as we can,” Venet told WABE. “That may not be exactly agreeing with them. We may think that, if they take certain areas, they should go beyond and take some more people, but we’re still working on that.”  Read on or listen  @ WABE

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Notes from MANA community meeting with Councilman Alex Wan, Atlanta District 6

MANA community meeting with Councilman Alex Wan, Atlanta District 6, September 17, 2014

Announcements by Lynn Ganim, acting MANA president:

This meeting is part of a series of meetings where MANA is reaching out to public officials to better understand how our neighborhood may be impacted by annexations or by new cities that include us or happen close enough to impact us.

  • We have reached out to identify a County representative but have not been successful
  • To learn about Commissioner Gannon’s Blueprint for DeKalb, attend Sept 30 meeting 
  • The interim CEO has appointed an operations task force that meets weekly at the Maloof Bldg; citizens are welcome to attend
  • MANA’s Oct 7 meeting will feature Rep Mary Margaret Oliver, who has been closely involved with recent cityhood proposals and will explain the legislative process
  • MANA will conduct a survey (house to house) to better understand our residents’ concerns and preferences

Councilman Wan has represented ATL District 6 since 2010. He grew up on the area, and attended Clarkston High, GA Tech School of Engineering, and completed his MBA at U Penn. In addition to his Atlanta appointment, Mr. Wan also works as director of development for Emory University’s libraries. Mr. Wan clarified that at this meeting, he is representing the City of Atlanta and District 6 and that he is not part of the Emory governance team (that would handle any cityhood/annexation discussions). Extensive meeting notes follow.