Association: Developer 'Suggesting' Public Financing for Plaza Makeover

Selig Enterprises has meet with DeKalb County commissioners and may seek public money to build underground parking for a new store, according to the Clairmont Heights Civic Association.

There's been a ton of chatter across the blogosphere recently about Suburban Plaza and the likelihood of a Walmart opening there.

Last week, Walmart representatives told North Druid Hills-Briarcliff Patch that .

Well, the Clairmont Heights Civic Association handed us the latest development in this story. Apparently, Selig Enterprises, the developer pursuing that Walmart, has met with DeKalb County commissioners Jeff Rader and Kathie Gannon. And due to the layout of that shopping center, any sort of big box store–Walmart or not–that might go up there would require major construction, including underground parking.

Selig has also suggested public financing to help with the parking construction and renovation to the shopping center's facade. From the association update:

In his response, Commissioner Rader confirmed that he and Commissioner Gannon had met with Selig and listened to their redevelopment objectives. He also mentioned that a big box development is permissible under the existing C-2 zoning. Commissioner Rader’s impression was that the space requirements of their desired building program and the required parking would necessitate an “urban” store design with underground parking at the corner of Medlock and North Decatur where the thrift store and mattress outlet are currently located.

This design would cost more than a conventional layout and therefore Selig is suggesting public financing assistance for underground parking and the renovation of the façade of the remaining shopping center strip. For the present, Commissioners Rader and Gannon have taken no position on the project but are planning to gather additional information from future meetings with the developer. Although the current zoning of the site allows for a “big box” development, any action by the BOC or the Development Authority of DeKalb County to assist Selig with financing would require a public process.

No doubt this will complicate the debate over this development. The association's update also includes an e-mail from Rader, so be sure to read that.

Tom Doolittle June 28, 2011 at 07:13 PM
Not clear here what kind of p[ublic fiiance assistance is being proposed. Low-interest guarantee? A revenue bond? Parking decks are usually financed by development authorities as revenue bonds--revenue being produced by the parking decks. Very successful where people pay to park in heavily traffic areas. Not sure that the decks in Decatur downtown are even making enough money to pay back a bond, much less out at Suburban (key word--suburbs). On to loan guarantee or some other incentives. That MIGHT be warranted if the county had a strategic objective for these intersections. The area would seem to warrant what the county is now targeting as "Neighborhood Centers"--idea being that ALL props in the area are part of a coordinated economic development, business/institutional activity center--yes--using the parking garage as a central unit-or several. Without these prerequisites, the fact that A developer with a piece of property wants a hand-out for one retail center is wasting the county's resources, not to mention a commissioner's political capital. It's in the "throw s..t up against the wall and see what sticks". You don't let the fact that we're in a slow period make you grab at straws--you use the dead time to do strategic planning to hit the ground running with your propsects when the money starts flowing again.
Tom Doolittle June 28, 2011 at 07:19 PM
BTW--you can see from the comments here that Comm Rader would have to spend considerable political capital to get this done. He got rosted for Sembler (and that was really only for the TAD)--but that might have been worth it considering the magnitude of the project and clear market for the Briarcliff/Druid/I-85 corridors (probability of success). Note: I'm nbot sure why only Rader is taking heat here--there are two commissioners mentioned in the article.
Tom Doolittle June 29, 2011 at 04:47 AM
I forgot to add an atta-boy to the website for getting the CHCA news out. We would normally not get anything like this from the monopoly daily news--unless they got a hot tip from an insider and wanted to create a firestorm (see GM Plant and Sembler Brookhaven--really the same issue). This is the way local news can really work in the e-era. Of course, if the story gets hot, then the monopoly news picks it up off Patch--nothing wrong mind you because the story gets a bigger audience...however, you'll never see AJC mention Patch reported on it first. (AJC does that to Creative Loafing all of the time).
Terry Smith June 29, 2011 at 09:40 PM
Gannon wasn't mentioned simply out of laziness, Tom. she votes however Rader says vote, those 2 a re apparently joined at the hip. Rader never met a developer he didn't like. give them their free reign and they will absolutely destroy every last vestige of what made Decatur & Dekalb County so unique. neighborhood centers, town centers, high density mixed use crap. what people in Dekalb do not want.
Tom Doolittle June 30, 2011 at 04:51 AM
Before we dismiss "mixed-use", consider the ultimate in so-called "mixed use" being a traditional town. Whether you or I think that's a good thing or not, that's pretty much the natural living arrangment, if things are left to themselves. The way most of us live today is not "natural"--it's been forced by a misallocation of resources--mainly cheap oil and easy financing for inefficient infrastructure. You, me, WalMart and our commissioners will move toward a future of small-scale town formation and return to agriculture kicking and screaming. One thing is for darn sure--even if a WalMart is built at Suburban plaza tomorrow--it won't be there in 10 years. A hundred of us could live there surrounded by urban agriculture and means to produce something of durable value. Land with plummeted values with devalued dollars will not be wasted as ugly boxes full of cheap goods. The land will be churned--and all government decisions being made today to support "redevelopment" (the point of this article) will be wasted unless used as an incentive to "grow" into an inevitable post-modern age. Waste we have and waste we will--until forced not to...even in our subdivisions. What's cool is being a part of the "future formation" process (if we have the time and inclination).


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