As Selig Enterprises, which owns Suburban Plaza, looks to bring a Walmart store to the Decatur shopping center, another developer is eyeing some property across the street.
Fuqua Development, of Atlanta, has a conceptual plan for a 40,000-square-foot, mixed-use retail center at the convergence of Scott Boulevard and North Decatur Road in unincorporated Decatur.
Currently, Scott Boulevard Baptist Church is on the site.
Greg Smith, pastor of the 62-year-old church, said, “The proposal for the development to be on our corner is totally separate from the proposal to sell our church property to a developer. I don’t really know anything other than what was proposed and what is already out on the Internet and news venues.”
According to a property flier for proposed development, the project would include a bank, restaurants and retail shops, with an estimated completion in the spring of 2014.
The flier described “dynamic” Decatur as “one of Atlanta’s premier in-town residential districts.”
Fuqua Development’s website states that the company “develops non-prototypical shopping centers achieving new concepts in retail and mixed use projects. These concepts incorporate characteristics of ‘live, work, play’ into communities and integrate urban lifestyles with the shopping center environments. The firm spends a lot of time and energy on creating individuality to each project based on the neighborhood and geographic region architecturally.”
The proposed shopping center would be across North Decatur Road from the 290,000-square-foot Suburban Plaza. Suburban Plaza’s owners have plans to increase the shopping center, built in 1959, to 324,614 square feet. That larger shopping center would include a 150,000-square-foot Walmart store which would have groceries, deli, a pharmacy and optical center.
Although developers have not received the final approval to start the Suburban Plaza project, in an Oct. 15 letter to an attorney representing Selig, Gary Cornell, the county’s interim planning director, stated that plans submitted with an application for a land disturbance permit were found to be “in conformity with the DeKalb County Zoning Ordinance.”
The plans call for the “construction of a commercial retail store with underground parking,” according to the letter.
Cornell added that the final plan must reduce the height of a proposed retaining wall along North Decatur Road to no higher than four feet.
Louise Runyon, a member of Good Growth DeKalb (GGD), a community action group that was formed to oppose the proposed Walmart, said the GGD only recently learned about the proposed Decatur Crossing and is “certainly concerned about it.”
“It’s more of the same,” Runyon said. “It’s more bad news for the intersection.”
GGD members have protested at community and county zoning meeting and at the usually-busy intersection of Medlock Road, North Decatur Road and Scott Boulevard. GGD members say the proposed Walmart would bring too much traffic to area.
The proposed Decatur Crossing, Runyon said, would “further render the intersection very likely impassable.”
A daily average traffic count on Fuqua Development’s flier states that 20,130 vehicles pass the property on North Decatur Road and 30,240 pass it on Scott Boulevard.
Recently, the old Medlock Elementary School building was reopened to house the International Community School, a DeKalb County charter school.
“All of a sudden, there’s even more traffic,” Runyon said. “ICS has a lot of car traffic; it’s not a neighborhood school” with most students walking from the neighborhood to the school.
“That’s a positive reason for traffic, but it’s hard to get out of the neighborhood at 3 p.m.,” Runyon said.
Runyon said residents in the area “want a neighborhood that has positive things…not how much money we can make in half an hour.”
“We don’t need a 40,000-square-foot center on top of the [Walmart] supercenter,” Runyon said.
“Everybody wants to jump on the bandwagon and take advantage of the city of Decatur,” she said. “I think our area is seen as the big prize to capitalize on the city of Decatur.”
On Oct. 16, representatives of Atlanta Land Group, a real estate brokerage firm, met with the owners of homes on Barton way and Blackmon Drive near the proposed development, to determine whether the residents want to “collectively put their property on the market to sell,” said Robert Armstrong, of Atlanta Land Group.
Armstrong said it was premature to discuss the possible purchase of any of the approximately 40 homes in the area.
“We’re not sure what the collective consensus will be,” Armstrong said. It was an “exploratory meeting” about “a site that…may lend itself for development.”
Jay Leslie, also of Atlanta Land Group, said, “We’re real estate brokers only. We identified that neighborhood as a suitable piece of property for redevelopment.”
Leslie said his firm was engaged by Scott Boulevard Baptist Church to help it “create an exit plan” and explore its options.
“Hopefully the residents of those houses will not sell,” Runyon said.