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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fuqua's 'Decatur Crossing' project deferred again to revisit plans with community

Posted By on Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 12:09 PM

An aerial view of where Fuqua proposes building a retail and residential complex across the street from Suburban Plaza
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  • An aerial view of where Fuqua proposes building a retail and residential complex across the street from Suburban Plaza
Veteran Atlanta developer Jeff Fuqua hit the pause button last night on his firm's proposed mixed-use development in unincorporated DeKalb County.

Fuqua Development's plans for Decatur Crossing, a potential 7-acre project that would be built at the intersection of North Decatur Road and Scott Boulevard, were deferred once again so the firm can have additional talks with local residents who say they've seen a variety of plans yet are uncertain what the developer actually plans to build.

The site's current proposal would've required rezoning of the property, which is now home to the 58-year-old Scott Boulevard Baptist Church and numerous homes along an adjacent residential street. Across North Decatur Road, Atlanta developer Selig Enterprises is planning a controversial makeover of Suburban Plaza that will be anchored by a Walmart.

At last night's DeKalb County's Board of Commissioners zoning meeting, Smith, Gambrell & Russell attorney Den Webb asked for a 60-day deferral for the project on behalf of Fuqua Development. He said Fuqua has held meetings with DeKalb commissioners, staffers, and nearby residents over the past several months. With several more discussions already promised, the developer wanted more time to flesh out the project's final plans before a vote.

While Fuqua hopes to move forward with a community-backed plan, he'll likely continue to face opposition to his proposal for the property at the the six-way intersection. Guy Robinson, a nearby resident who spoke on behalf of the Blackmon Drive Homeowners Association, which represents property owners on one of roads adjacent to the proposed development, wants Fuqua to present a plan that's more cohesive and transparent.

"We are not opposed to development, we are opposed to bad development," Robinson told commissioners. "In the latest version of the multiple plans that have been presented, it places a large grocery store in the middle of a residential area. Whether the foods being sold there are natural or otherwise, it'd make no difference to the people living behind it."

As of now, Fuqua has released few specifics about Decatur Crossing's tenants other than confirming the anchor tenant would be an "organic" grocer. During a meeting at the DeKalb church two months ago, the firm showed off a proposal that featured a 5-story, 200-unit apartment complex.

Louise Runyon, co-chair of smart-growth group Good Growth DeKalb, said the organization wants a sustainable, healthy, and creative development at the site. They're also concerned with how Fuqua's development might increase congestion at a six-way intersection that already serves 70,000 motorists pass by each day.

"There are no easy solutions to this difficult intersection and any kind of development that's going to be here has got to be very well thought out and very minimal in its traffic impact," she says. The plans have changed three times and the community has not seen the second or third set of plans."

We've reached out to Fuqua to hear more about the latest plans, which we'll post if we hear back.

NOTE: The original story said DeKalb commissioners granted Fuqua a 30-day deferral, when actually received a 60-day one.

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