Where is Tucker?

I hear all kinds of statements about Tucker and its history, and what it should look like as a city. Some of the statements make a lot of sense. Some are understandable to anyone.  Most people wouldn't argue with the point that Tucker should be a city. But some of the statements are rather gross logical leaps, and maybe hurt the real argument.

1.      People talk all the time about Tucker having its own zip code – 30084. They point out that a lot of the businesses have a mailing address Tucker GA 30084. But the existence of a zip code doesn’t mean it’s relevant.  And the claim seems to be that because there is a zip code, it’s acceptable to claim any part of it, and anything else; and to exclude any part not wanted.What?  You can look up 30084 on google maps; a few problems with the use of 30084 are:

·         It contains a lot of area in Gwinnett County – well past Jimmy Carter

·         The ITP area takes in most of the parking lot of Briarcliff Village, but only the Panera end of the shopping center (not Publix, Office Depot)

·         It includes nothing north of La Vista except the Blue Ribbon triangle and the Briarcliff Village parking lot area, and lots of residential (which is excluded from the Tucker city map)

·         It excludes the Wells Fargo and BP area south of La Vista

·         It includes a large area of residential property south of La Vista, which the Tucker map excludes

·         It doesn’t include Smoke Rise in the south

·         It doesn’t include Evansdale or Pleasantdale in the north.

Can anyone say "cherry-picking"?

2.      Another argument for the existence of the Tucker community is all the “community events”, like Tucker Days, the Christmas party, Tucker HS.  Clearly there’s a community. In presentations, show lots of photos of kids enjoying themselves. But none of those events have been anywhere near Northlake Mall or ITP. They are all in the historic Tucker area – near Main Street. The fact that there is community involvement somewhere doesn’t create the right to claim something else.

3.      There is also talk about Tucker being a recognized Census Designated Place (CDP). However, the CDP does not go inside the perimeter, and has no relation to the proposed Tucker map. Yes there’s a CDP, but the proposed map of the City of Tucker isn’t it.

4.      Tucker has a long history because of the RR stop. But that’s a specific limited area on the map. None of that history goes much beyond a mile from Local 7.

5.      Some merchants in the Northlake area want to join the Tucker Community Improvement District (CID), and change the name to Tucker/Northlake – or is it Northlake/Tucker. (Two names is a hint.)  But the real issue is that the CID has no relationship to a city; it has no relationship to the proposed map of Tucker; and the existing Tucker CID only goes to the perimeter. The fact that a CID can extend into another area means absolutely nothing.

6.      There has been a “scientific survey” of people inside the proposed Tucker map, asking people if they think Northlake Mall should be part of their city. Well duh!  If you do a survey in the Oak Grove area and asked if Target and the Northlake Parkway OTP area and the Emory Orthopedic Hospital should be part of our city, they’d say yes. The fact that the affected people would like to have something isn’t a basis for saying it should happen. If they had asked in the survey if Graves Park, Heritage Park and Lucky Shoals Park should be part of the city, people would have said yes. Throw in Gwinnett Crossing shopping center. Do I hear a yes?


I forget from my college logic course, but there’s a whole bunch of logical fallacies there. Yes Tucker is a community. No, it’s not west of I-285.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Tom Doolittle January 14, 2014 at 11:26 PM
One of the unusual things that was endemic with starting a "Northlake" organization, NCA, Inc. as much as it focused on vision (being all it can be, re-creation, evolution), the public conversation steered toward "fixing something"--and the "fix" would of course come from the neighborhoods. We were (and seems from this conversation) hell bent on working on someone else's business.
Jim Tackett January 15, 2014 at 09:07 AM
In truth I'm not sure what was accomplished in improving North Lake except for street lamps and a median--and that was probsbly just another county plan, seeing as thats something they're doing for Frazier and Oak Grove too. There seemed to be lots of commitee talk mentioned, lots of words on the website, but never got a sense there was a lot of meat behind it for us readers. I kept hoping to see something really change...boots on the ground, if you will. But the place continues sliding. My wife still shops there but is a whole lot more wary of potential crime in the parking lot when she's getting in and out. That's why I for one feel it's time to stop all the committee think and pack more punch for our area with city hood. It'll give us more powerful, direct tools to take back our area. And while it ain't my call, I do hope businesses of North lake choose to join Briarcliff so that we can have a dedicated police force there and the financial backing to do more upgrades. Briarcliff would have the deepest pockets for this of all plans on the table. DeKalb county certainly doesn't care, so the status quo is a frightening thought.
Rhea A Johnson Jr January 15, 2014 at 12:31 PM
Four minute 911 response time from Briarcliff....22 minute 911 response time from Tucker!!
Tom Doolittle January 15, 2014 at 12:50 PM
Jim--Northlake Progress--Note that most of the downslide started in the early 1990's in the Levetan Admin. It was more of a holding pattern--but the mall and Tower Festival took hits even while restaurants were still being propped up by office tenants. The office tenants went after the 2000 bust. The East side has always been ramshackle "by the hwy" businesses completely dependent on hotel and auto. The demographic of each got poorer.
Tom Doolittle January 15, 2014 at 12:50 PM
Northlake Progress 2: Everything that has been done is on the ITP side, except tree planting in the I-285 Lavista interchange. County does the mowing and trash pickup--it has paid a lot more attention since they took over the AT&T buildings. All plans for the streetscape improvements were done directly for NCA, Inc. (plan 2001) via ARC funds--design was done for NCA 2004 with ARC funds 1st phase const 2008 contracted thru DeKalb, pd for by ARC (all you see today, except some county sidewalks). Street cleanup has always been by volunteers, now a landscaping company volunteers. Northlake Office Park did the median mowing on N'Lake Parkway--not the new owners tho. There are two more phases of construction in the 2001 plan with Phase III some big road changes--including one controversial "straightening" of the H-Mill/Briar intersection connecting straight thru the rear of B'Cliff Village to Montreal. The biggest headache was the Overlay Zoning Plan (sign standards, allowable businesses, density, building hts--all town centers now have these)--done in 2009 I believe. It paves the way for any developer activity. Another post will deal with econ dev efforts by County/NCA, Inc.
Rhea A Johnson Jr January 15, 2014 at 01:07 PM
Good folks in Tucker 2014 will tell you that a 22 minute 911 response time for Northlake ITP is better than 59 minute 911 response time in Detroit!
Tom Doolittle January 15, 2014 at 01:10 PM
Northlake Progress 3: Econ Dev--its always been looked at as a "mall issue" because of the dominance of the center in a relatively small area. Northlake's "LCI" area is about 1/5 of Perimeter Center (and that includes Northlake's industrial areas behind Kroger, not across the tracks tho). This is not the correct approach to selling Northlake as an econ dev engine--probably the biggest failure of county planning. Northlake should be viewed as including the L'ville Hwy Interchange for obvious reasons--penny on the dollar property and most of the healthcare industrial complex. I'd even argue that Embry Hills and Mercer should be included. All of this planning mistake can be erased if included in the CID. The CID is the key to economic development on a large scale (see PCID). Not necessarily needed for a smaller less institutionally financed vision. My guess is LCA is the former--and heavily associated with hotel/tourism. None of this requires a city--it requires a CID--and that requires big land owners (even universities and hospitals can lead) to lead an effort. Oglethorpe Power's HQ is here! Georgia Power has its own econ dev office off Montreal. One thing that I have never heard ANYONE recognize but me: Montreal may be the biggest key and potentially a center of activity at the train tracks. Why? (1) Commuter Rail,(2) Industrial is The diamond in the rough that separates Northlake from all commercially-based regional centers.(3) Its the only place left within 1/2 mile of Mall with developable small-lot single-family housing. For anyone looking for investment property, its a broad scale gentrification opportunity.
Jim Tackett January 15, 2014 at 04:07 PM
Yes, in theory, Tom, the potential for Montreal area would indeed have been huge. Monstrous. IF the Brain Train Commuter Rail project hadn't been "de-railed" (Info/links at bottom of post.) Sadly, the short-sighted voters who turned down SPLOST last year are mainly responsible. (Gov Deal killed when voters killed funding). I wish people would understood that if we invest a little now and then , we can reap so much more than we put in. Shame that we lost that plan - it would have raised Tucker's real estate values immensely, as residents would have had a high-speed commuter line to the city. Now, because people weren't willing to spend just a little to pay for this and other infrastructure improvements, Montreal will likely remain a low industrial area for the foreseeable future. REFERENCE LINKS: Peach Pundit: http://www.peachpundit.com/2012/08/08/transportation-and-that-vision-thing/ HighSpeed Rail Redux: http://www.gpb.org/news/2013/06/05/high-speed-rail-redux
mikeatl January 15, 2014 at 04:46 PM
I'm in the group of "I'll take any city, just to limit DeKalb County". That doesn't mean I don't prefer a little common sense. And I just don't see anything that makes sense about Tucker claiming the ITP Northlake area.
Jim Tackett January 15, 2014 at 07:05 PM
I sure hope you're right Tom. It would be huge for the area. But I see no evidence that this will happen any time soon. One article says its been punted to at least 2020. And I can't see how Emory or Athens would turn down rail if it was even remotely possible..too many fingers in the pie to answer to. Here's hoping I'm wrong. Sorry for 'derailing' the thread
Longerthanu January 15, 2014 at 07:22 PM
There are six routes in the running for the Charlotte to Atlanta leg of that high-speed rail project: http://www.dot.ga.gov/travelingingeorgia/rail/AtlantatoCharlotte/Documents/Public%20Meeting/June%202013/ScopingBoards-Landscape.pdf The Brain Train route does not score well in the initial evaluations. The Greenfield and I-85 routes are much better fits: http://www.dot.ga.gov/travelingingeorgia/rail/AtlantatoCharlotte/Documents/Public%20Meeting/June%202013/EvaluationBoard.pdf
Tom Doolittle January 15, 2014 at 08:37 PM
I think that's good--commuter rail will happen sooner, once the high speed distraction clears. The point is--it can happen any time because the calculus isn't about Republicans being backward cheapskates. Its about alignment--as soon as the distractions are gone and everyone's goodies are lined up. Once a decision is made, the line can be in place within two years--its not anything like transit.
Roberto January 16, 2014 at 08:24 AM
The Athens - Atlanta commuter rail project would be a tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars, both for the construction and ongoing operating cost subsidies. This project is just another example of poor regional planning to address key transportation issues, by supporting projects with very limited transportation benefit [eg, Atlanta trolley, Beltline, commuter rail]. The only real supporters are the developers who want to build new mega centers at the station sites.
Jim Tackett January 16, 2014 at 09:17 AM
Beltline? That project is gaining Atlanta some serious press all over the country and beyond, like NYC's High Line did before. It's considered the boldest, most transformative new US city project in 20 years. Have you walked or biked it Roberto? It's incredible. It brings the entire town together every day. But more, it is driving major economic improvement and rising real estate values all along its path. And new tech businesses are flocking to ATL to part of the new vibrant Intown culture we're getting. It's the best thing to happen to ATL in recent memory, for our economy and our livability. Improve livability and connectivity and all boats rise. These investments pay off in waves. Econ aside, even seeing what it's done for the people is payoff already.You should go see what's happening -- it's a beautiful sight. One look and you'd agree! Connectivity is the future. (well, it,s the Now--we're just catching up.). Trains are a part of it.
Jim Tackett January 16, 2014 at 09:19 AM
Though I do agree about that streetcar. THAT'S a useless dog and pony show.
Tom Doolittle January 16, 2014 at 10:26 AM
As much as I enjoy the discussion on trains and transpo here--Patch ought to run a thread. Any blogger want to take a shot at connecting the cityhood issue with trains? Cities are natural train nodes--and the smaller the city the more dramatic the economic and vitality impact.
Cheryl Miller January 17, 2014 at 09:02 AM
Just wanted to remind everyone that the issue of Northlake was brought up back in June: http://tucker.patch.com/groups/cheryl-millers-blog/p/who-has-the-rights-to-northlake-the-real-cityhood-question. And, to answer the question about why people keep saying that ITP residents do not shop at Northlake Mall, it is something we were all told at more than one LCA meeting early in this process. Please remember that Tucker did not ask for any of this, so the bashing is pretty harsh considering we had no choice - fight back or let others walk all over us. It is a disappointment that we have no other way to protect our historic area than to be forced to jump in feet first into a city process without the obvious assistance of current and former politicians to lead the way. The "process" needs a lot of work.
Cheryl Miller January 17, 2014 at 09:03 AM
Transit / trains tell me that the development is coming whether we like it or not. The commercial opportunities will not become greater or less based on a city vs. county control of the taxes. Some people are more aware than others about what is on the way. They want to control the money.
Tom Doolittle January 17, 2014 at 11:14 AM
Cheryl: You say "development, like it or not". The Movements assume we like it of course. But how many people realize the celebrated "economic development" (and sister, "revitalization") is what neighborhood "zoning clubs" have fought at every chance in the past--and led to spacial separation and distance (dysfunction) between residential and commercial areas. You also say "know what is on the way". What do know is "on the way"? I'd certainly be interested in a medium density pedestrian environment with connection to convenient mass transit (and commuter rail), a street grid, healthy mix of six story condominiums, step-down small lot single-lots and few bridges over the rail tracks in the Northlake center. I'd appreciate park space interspersed with that on the mall property, a centrally located library and post office. I'd like "back alleys" developed to house the "Auto Maintenance Industrial Complex (AMID)" that dominates our thoroughfares. I'd appreciate a developer assembling all of the postage sized commercial sites and closed businesses on the "Tucker Side" of Northlake Parkway. But that begs the questions, at what point do traditional zoning fighters line up against revitalization--are they the same people that will vote for the city on the "promise" of "economic development"? When do they start actually thinking andmaking trade-offs--before or after a referendum? BTW--all of the above has been put in place by NCA, INc. with cooperation by DeKalb County--all of the energy that has been put into cityhood could long ago have gone into partnering with the County to make it a reality--but "city" is indeed catchy and a rallying cry--always needed.
Jim Tackett January 17, 2014 at 12:21 PM
Doesn't appear to be working though. If NCA put a plan together, who or what is holding things up as the area continues to downslide? Wouldn't a city-- a smaller subset, comprised of the people who actually care and have an economic motivation -- be far more nimble and able to get revitalization underway? No significant voting blocs oppose parks, post offices or connectivity.
Tom Doolittle January 17, 2014 at 12:50 PM
The comment I made about "people" (as in average resident and small business owner) overrating their ability as citizens to move mountains. The same calculus exists for citizens of counties as cities. By the same token, the right resident who has the tenacity, time and salesmanship can work in behalf of his locale without a city with same effectiveness as with one. As someone who very much knows the circumstances in Northlake, take it from me, the county government hasn't been an issue any more than city govt would be. The difference would be the management of the "inducement" process (bonds, tax incentives) of the city development authority vs that of the county--and for no good reason (people currently yell bloody murder when TADs and other tax incentives are offered by county govts--see Cobb and developer Williams right now). So it shouldn't be any different for a city EXCEPT for the "set up"--that is, cities will be FORCED to use these because they are "set up" on a shoestring and MUST generate new income. The citizens "closer" to the govt are INDUCED to cooperate and act completely opposite to what they used to consider their best interests. My primary goal in bringing these things up is not to RESIST new cities in general, but to provide info that helps people ask the right questions and understand what they get when they vote one in--BEFORE they vote. BTW--there is also one other factor that has kept Northlake from revitalizing (no fault of DeKalb County)--TIMING. The time (and land prices) has not been right. It's called "pennies on the dollar"--it drives all urban (previously developed) land transfer--and always has. Unbelievably, even land in the pits of hell in the "Northlake I-285") Area (Embry, Lavista, N'lake Parkway, US 29, Pnce D'Leon) is not depressed enough to attract new development).
Cheryl Miller January 18, 2014 at 08:23 PM
Jim, what criteria are you basing your statement about the NCA plan "not working" for the Northlake area?
Cheryl Miller January 18, 2014 at 09:50 PM
Tom, I don't know of the "postage sized commercial" on the Tucker side of Northlake that you are talking about. And, as for closed businesses, I don't think the ratio on the "Tucker side" is any greater than it is for the "Other Tucker side" (ha ha, just a little joke) ... or the mall side, I guess you could call it. In fact, there are probably a lot more businesses that closed in the mall than in all the rest of Northlake combined. I know Simon Properties is not run by idiots. They know what they are doing. Have you seen their plans in Buckhead? They own Lenox AND Phipps. As you said, the redevelopment dollars follow the "slum" designation and similar ... so, I hope I am doing the right thing by trying to ride out the storm with my own investment which I also happen to live in (which is in the Northlake area). I think our property (on either side of the highway) near Northlake must be worth something pretty decent one day soon if there is already one business group working on it (NCA) and three more trying to snatch control of it (LCA, COBI, T2014). And, whatever happened to City of Prosperity and City of LaVista Hills? Can anyone just stand up and claim those bills were placeholders for them (as Briarcliff apparently did with the Druid Hills MMO bill) or do certain folks just get to make up new rules as the game goes along?
Jim Tackett January 20, 2014 at 11:12 AM
Cheryl, Northlake is on a disturbing decline, both in quality of retail, and rise in crime. I agree that the area is a goldmine, location wise. And I used to read the northlake alliance website often in hopes that they, as a concerned, grassroots effort, might be able to bring enough attention to the area to attract funding, branding, or whatever it might take to reverse the trend. Their efforts, which I applaud and support, however, have had no appreciable results in affecting improvements. To the contrary, it has continued its downslide. This is NOT to say, in any way, that NCA is to blame, or that their good efforts were to waste. Any positive effort is appreciated at this point. My point is that the Northlake area may have far bigger issues at hand causing this downslide. And based on the fact that it was ineffective in the end-- local community efforts like this will probably require a hand with government involvement. Ideally a LOCAL government comprised of citizens like those of us in North Decatur, Oak Grove, Embry and Tucker who regularly shop this area and want it back to the way it used to be.
mikeatl January 21, 2014 at 04:11 PM
Cheryl perhaps you should keep up with a few months ago. The city of La Vista Hills was simply a name made up by Sen Carter. He had to have a name to enter the place holder bill, and he didn't like "Briarcliff", so he made up another one. It's the same map.
mikeatl January 21, 2014 at 04:13 PM
Jim, the problem with Northlake goes way beyond who's in charge here. The people who own it make the decisions about how it can be managed, and how to attract tenants. They've gotten a lot richer by their decisions than I have by my investment decisions. Perhaps you could buy the mall and make all these changes.
Cheryl Miller January 21, 2014 at 05:57 PM
mikeatl, I try my best to keep up, I assure you. There is an enormous amount of information on some aspects of this subject and there is also an enormous amount that is simply lacking. While I understand that LaVista Hills was a name that was created after a road (much like Braircliff) and Lakeside was a "working name" that was created based on a school, I don't think Sen. Carter all by himself decided to enter a bill for a city, did he? He hasn't been a strong proponent of cities and he is pretty well versed on the law in that he realizes that cities are not to be created by existing government to meet their own agendas. They are only created if so requested by the citizens who live in an area and wish to be governed in a particular way. Soooo.... my question is .... who was the bill "Lavista Hills" created for? Are you saying it is the same map as the Briarcliff map which is 85% the same as the Lakeside map? How many different bills were written and submitted by the same group of people? And, if Briarcliff is actually going to use the placeholder set by MMO, then what becomes of the LaVista Hills bill? Can I claim it? Can you? Can anyone? Because I actually asked for the placeholder bill for Tucker and yet the people who stood up to say they were representing Tucker very methodically tried to prevent my involvement. Turns out they don't actually live in Tucker, or at least they don't live in what would have been the map I was planning to use. So, can I submit my map to Sen. Carter and call it LaVista Hills?
Jim Tackett January 21, 2014 at 11:54 PM
Mike, no argument there, I'm a free enterprise guy to the core. No messing with anyone's business. I was referring to the things around it. It's like schools - the variable is the community concern and involvement. Better zoning, branding, infrastucture/connectivity, better policing. Things that lift a place up-but sometimes require a little organizational muscle.
Cheryl Miller January 24, 2014 at 11:10 PM
Jim, the schools have many more variables than what you are stating. In many cases, the community around a school physically have little or no impact or influence on what goes on inside that school or how it is being utilized. What people forget is that we have a widely encouraged and even over utilized school choice program in DeKalb. Many schools are specialized to attract children from all over. They don't always reflect the neighborhood. In fact, the quality schools are likely considered as such because they have attracted the top students from the entire county, not just their own attendance zone.
Cheryl Miller January 24, 2014 at 11:13 PM
For example, Tucker has three Title I elementary schools, yet the area was determined to be city-viable. Does that make sense? Clearly, the school problems have been kept quiet so that most people still believe that a good school means a good neighborhood or even vise versa. I hope new buyers are being more saavy this time around and looking at multiple factors before they decide on where they should buy and how much is a fair price.


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