Medlock Roundup: Elementary School Tenants, Walmart, Business Community Changes

New ventures are potentially coming to the Medlock area, and a county commissioner provides updates on the possible Suburban Plaza Walmart.

Some potential new ventures, including a use for the building and the old J.D. Byrider building on Scott Boulevard, are coming to the Medlock neighborhood, Medlock Area Neighborhood Association President Kathryn Firago said Monday.

Although the Board of Education has not made a final announcement about Medlock Elementary's future, Firago said at the association's meeting they are interested in short-term leases. The DeKalb County School System is already considering one possible tenant, she said.

“Although the plans are fluid, the plan is to use Medlock as an interim school for Fernbank [Elementary] when Fernbank starts doing its building to make itself the 900-seat elementary school,” Firago said. After that time, she said it will be available for lease again.

The building can also be leased for about two years before Fernbank starts its building. Firago said that the International Community School, a K-6 charter school currently in two locations (one in Avondale Estates for grades K-4, the other in Stone Mountain for grades 5-6), has expressed interest, although nothing is official yet.

Firago detailed the potential newcomers to the neighborhood and mentioned a new business that has already opened: , a foreign car repair shop in the old Courtesy Lincoln/Mercury dealership on Scott Boulevard at DeKalb Industrial Way.

“They are an established business with many years under their belt,” Firago said. “The good news is is that for the size of the building and the property, they are a small group and Theresa [Same, MANA zoning chair] expects that their impact will overall be very small.” Firago also asked that nearby residents watch the business and keep an eye out for changes.

On the same road, the J.D. Byrider building currently bears blue signs signaling a request made with the Zoning Board of Appeals. Firago said they are asking for a parking variance to add a medical building, although she knew no further details.

“That seems like that might actually be an improvement to the property there,” she said.

Firago also discussed an issue with Dash, which is in the same Scott Boulevard shopping center as . While it is zoned as a restaurant, Firago said that it is being run as a nightclub with later opening hours.

“Several neighbors who live nearby are rather upset about that,” she said. “They’ve been working hard to get it shut down or at least enforce the restaurant hours. MANA is doing what we can to support them.”

Resident Claire French has composed a letter for DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis about the issue. Theresa Same will review the letter and see if MANA can add its full support before it is sent.

DeKalb County commissioner Kathie Gannon, in attendance at the meeting, encouraged residents to stay active with regards to . She also discussed the possible .

Noting that she does not personally shop at Walmart but knows people who do, Gannon said she and fellow commissioner Jeff Rader met with Walmart representatives recently.

“Their plan is pretty much a typical Walmart, a big box, that they would put in the corner of the shopping center,” she said.

Their current plan involves the demolition of the shops spanning from Overstock Furniture and Last Chance Thrift Store down to Piccadilly Cafeteria. The Walmart would also have underground parking.

She said that there will be no public hearings before the county commissioners about the Walmart because the property is already zoned for commercial use. They would need to seek variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals, however.

Walmart asked the commissioners for an Economic Development Incentive grant and requested the creation of a Tax Allocation District, a boundary in which some tax money goes to the development of the area. Gannon said TADs only really work if the school board is part of the process. Since the board has said no to all other TADs, Gannon said there would not be much money for Walmart to use anyway.

“I think Jeff [Rader] and I both pretty much made it very clear that we would not support an Economic Development Incentive for that particular use,” she said.

She also encouraged residents to shop at what she termed “good neighbors” like Publix and Intown Ace Hardware.

“This Walmart would blow the Intown Ace, especially their garden center, right out of the water,” she said.  

She had no further news about Walmart, saying that they went back to the drawing board and would perhaps return with different plans in the future.

Jo June 30, 2011 at 12:37 PM
Intown Ace is a nice little store. And I truly don't think a Walmart would work well there--the traffic patterns alone would be a nightmare. Walmarts do better on the edge of a township.
Cerebration June 30, 2011 at 01:15 PM
The funniest comment ever -- from Kathy Gannon - who "doesn't shop at WalMart, but knows people who do"! Hilarious!
Crash June 30, 2011 at 01:42 PM
Trader Joe's might fare better in the Oak Grove area than at Suburban Plaza. Condos might work in Suburban Plaza.
Tom Doolittle July 01, 2011 at 01:28 AM
A more responsible argument against TADs is managing risk. In areas with property value not depressed (by definition the area is not blighted)--they won't produce enough future tax increment as "improved" to pay off the public infrastructure bonds. (new water sewer, street realignment and grids and incidental unexplianed "inducements"). The school system has unwittingly protected taxpayers from this risk--only rejecting them on the basis of lost current tax revenue. There has never been any mention of the obvious bond payback risks--the falacy of any model based on future tax payments in currently productive land. I have an idea--just wait another five years when ALL real estate is depressed--call the whole county "blighted" and make the whole darn place a TAD. Might work financially but doesn't paint a pretty PR picture.


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