The nearly 7-acre mixed-used development located near the busy intersection of Scott Boulevard and North Decatur Road is technically just outside Decatur. Early plans, which were presented to surrounding neighborhoods on Monday, include a 5-story, 200-unit apartment complex and an "organic" food store that would serve as the development's anchor tenant. Retail shops would line the street and wrap two levels of parking - one of which would potentially be underground. At the 6-way intersection, the developer says, pedestrians and passersby will be able to convene in a "public gathering space."
To build the shopping center, Fuqua would have to raze the current properties. Historic 58-year-old Scott Boulevard Baptist Church, which has tried to sell the property to more than a dozen potential buyers, would be demolished under the firm's plan. As would 10 homes on Barton Way that the developer currently has under contract.
Fuqua's plans, however, haven't sat well with all of the neighborhood's residents, many of whom would rather see the church re-purposed or retrofitted for another use.
"It's shocking to us," Good Growth DeKalb co-organizer Betty Blondeau tells CL. "We think there's much more creative thinking that could go into this."
Good Growth DeKalb's leaders attended a mandatory community-wide meeting with dozens of other concerned residents to hear Fuqua executives present their initial plan, ask questions, and offer feedback. Tensions boiled inside the church as some community members criticized the company for being "disingenuous" and not entirely transparent with its proposal.
The development is hardly a done deal. Unlike the proposed Walmart Supercenter across the street at Suburban Plaza, which Good Growth DeKalb is battling in court, Decatur Crossing would need to be rezoned. The company is expected to file for a land use permit today but the county likely won't vote on the issue until late September.
DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader thinks that whatever eventually replaces the church on that lot will likely transform the intersection.
"It's a big change for the area," Rader tells CL. "The congregation appears to be declining ... they don't believe it's a viable site for a house of worship anymore."
Rader hopes that an upcoming planning study looking at how to retrofit that intersection will "ideally inform" the developers' decisions in the area. But that study, called a Livable Centers Initiative, must first be completed, which won't happen until next year. He adds that Fuqua remains entitled to move forward at its own pace, effectively forcing DeKalb commissioners to consider the application now instead of when the LCI is complete.
Fuqua's application will likely come up next at a DeKalb County Community Council District 2 Meeting in mid-August. By that time, we'll have a clearer picture about the nearby Suburban Plaza lawsuit, which could somewhat impact Decatur Crossing's plans.
The ride, which is privately funded and had previously been approved by Atlanta City Council, has experienced numerous delays. But judging by Redditor Brian Culler's above photo, the erected supports for the attraction could mean that things are finally back on schedule.
Once fully constructed, passengers will be able to hop aboard the 20-story ride for a cool $15. And yes, there will also be VIP packages available if that's more your style.
Castleberry Hill's temporary parking lots - which every year offer parking to thousands of people who attend major events Downtown - may soon be put on hold as the city takes another look at its permit process.
Atlanta City Councilmembers Michael Julian Bond, Kwanza Hall, and Cleta Winslow are introducing a new ordinance that would put a moratorium on those lots into place, stopping the city from issuing permits for up to 180 days in the neighborhood.
Bond tells CL that the current process isn't properly regulated or enforced on numerous parcels that lack lighting or pavement. Without a uniform policy, residents have encountered a "litany of problems" given the lack of accountability for tailgaters who he says have urinated and defecated in some of the lots - not to mention the operators ultimately responsible for their customers' actions. In other words, it's similar to what Summerhill residents face when Braves fans park in the temporary lots surrounding Turner Field.
Councilman Ivory Young, who represents portions of Castleberry Hill, Downtown, and Vine City, said during yesterday's City Council meeting that he was "supportive of revising" the permit process, but questioned whether the timing was "prudent" with the Atlanta Falcons season quickly approaching. While most people notice the issue during the NFL season, Bond says, those problems continue throughout the year when major concerts and monster truck rallies bring thousands of motorists to the area.
The new proposal arose after a meeting took place last week between community members, several City Council staff members, and Department of Public Works officials. If passed, the measure could lead to an overhaul of the lax and inconsistent regulations for those lots, which are in the area between Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to the north, McDaniel Street to the south, Northside Drive to the west, and Spring and Whitehall streets to the east.
The ordinance will make its way through the committee process in the coming weeks.
In a lengthy Facebook post yesterday, owner Brian Maloof issued an apology following complaints about staff's substandard service during a shift over the weekend. The drama unfolded on Sunday after Michael Mears sat down at Manuel's - a bar he says he has frequented since the mid-70's - and attempted to order a meal. What followed, as he described in a Facebook post, is a harrowing experience of what he considers ageism at its worst:
I went by Manuel's Tavern to place a take order. I have been going to Manuels since the mid 1970's. I sat at the bar and waited for service. Two women were behind the bar, one white and one black (only for identification purposes) Neither one seem to acknowledge my presence even though there were several empty sets at the bar. The white waitress was in a deep conversation with a woman patron and the other waitress seemed somewhat bored. After sitting there for over 5 minutes I decided to time the service. After ten minutes of not even being acknowledge, the white waitress turned to the customer with whom she had been chatting (apparently that customer was a waitress at another bar and they were telling each other stories about how much they hated waiting on tables. After fifteen minutes, I still had not been acknowledged as a patron (or even human being for that matter.)
Sadly, however, i concluded that Manuel's Tavern, a bastion of liberalism and host of so many tolerant groups, I had fallen into that class of people that Manuel's tavern no longer recognizes. White men over the age of 60. Sad, I don't think I will ever go back, and that is sad for me, but I am sure that the current management and certainly the two bar tenders could care less.
But when it comes to the Boulevard tunnel just south of Edgewood Avenue, most pedestrians would prefer avoiding it altogether. That's why a group of Cabbagetown and Old Fourth Ward residents are now working to clean up and beautify the underpass.
"It's become a hub for unsavory characters," the Grady Memorial Hospital emergency medicine physician says about the tunnel's stairwells that lead up to DeKalb Avenue. "Honestly, I run into folks using drugs in the stairwell or just hanging out. They're nice and fine, but people leave piles of trash and they use it as a place to poop and urinate."
Many residents avoid walking in the tunnel, the most direct path between the two neighborhoods, because of the same safety and aesthetic concerns.
"It smells." Cyerra Crumrine, an Old Fourth Ward property owner, tells CL. "It's not a pleasant experience walking through the tunnel."
But the group has started to change that through organized clean-up efforts including painting over unwanted graffiti, picking up trash, and pulling weeds. The tunnel still needs to have new guardrails installed, lighting replaced, and potholes fixed.
"It's a major thoroughfare," Mlynski says. "Despite tons of cars going through, there's really poor lighting. The pedestrian guardrails have disintegrated at their bases. There are sections that are completely missing and there's about a four-to-five foot drop into oncoming traffic."
Once the clean-up and repairs are complete, the Boulevard Tunnel Initiative will commission a muralist to paint a permanent piece spanning the entire underpass. Mlynski estimates that $20,000 will be needed for the paint, supplies, and artist fees. While they haven't yet chosen a painter, she says that muralists Hense, Molly Rose Freeman, and Samuel Parker have all expressed interest in the project. There's also a possibility that the tunnel could be a site for a future Living Walls conference.
The public art won't be created, however, until conditions under the bridge are safer and much more walkable. And the process to making that a reality has been more difficult than expected.
Traffic will get a little bit worse starting next week for motorists traveling through Inman Park and Old Fourth Ward.
Krog Street between Edgewood and DeKalb Avenues will be closed from June 17 to August 3 as AT&T conducts some much-needed utility work. City officials planned for this round of repairs to coincide with the rebuilding of the Edgewood Avenue bridge, which was demolished back in April.
"Our goal is to maintain the existing detour route as much as possible in order to have this work completed before the Atlanta Public Schools reopen in August," Valerie Bell-Smith, a Department of Public Works spokeswoman, said in a statement. "Once AT&T has completed their work the original detour route will resume."
Smith says that local business will keep their doors open and that additional detail signs will be placed to promote more foot traffic.
So expect delays throughout the area. We've included several different detours after the jump:
Thanks to 1,000 hours of volunteer work, a CL-hosted online fundraiser, and a $2,500 matching donation from the Home Depot Foundation, the seating areas, headstones, and other memorials are now surrounded by newly planted grass, shrubs, trees, flowers, and marked by tidy walking paths - all in keeping with the original Victorian design of the city park and sanctuary.
Minutes before last weekend's Tunes From the Tombs event started, around two dozen volunteers patted down the last sod patches and hauled off wheelbarrows full of well-worn tools to the cemetery garden shed. Later on Saturday afternoon, when CL met up with the cemetery's landscape manager, Sara Henderson, families and some children were already making good use of the restored space, taking photos of flowers and markers, sitting on donated benches, and running in the grass or sitting in shady spots under trees.
On Sunday, Henderson sent out a thank-you note to all her volunteers, saying in part:
Against Atlanta Horse Drawn Carriages says that Atlanta's laws created to protect horses from cruel living and working conditions aren't currently being enforced. They want the Atlanta Police Department, which is responsible for enforcing the laws, to crack down on carriage operators - or even end the practice altogether if the city's laws aren't followed.
"We ask that you take measures to [ensure] the law in regards to the horses, their living conditions and their working conditions, are enforced," the petition, which has more than 4,000 signatures, says. "If the laws cannot be enforced, then the horse drawn carriages in Atlanta should be shut down."
Kathy Burke, a Gwinnett County activist leading AAHDC's efforts, thinks that two horse-drawn carriage companies, Fantasy Carriages and Nottingham Shire & Carriage for Hire, have failed to properly care for the horses over the years.
Atlanta's codes require that horse-drawn carriage companies must "provide humane care and treatment" and not "impair the good health and physical condition" of carriage horses. The group, however, claims that many horses are not given proper access to water and are occasionally neglected. Burke says that the two companies provide "unacceptable" living conditions and its carriage operators don't properly care for the horses while they're on-the-job. "They're clearly not horse people," she says.
Amanda Araim, owner of Nottingham Shire & Carriage for Hire for the past 13 years, says she has worked with horses her entire life and goes above and beyond what's required for her horses, which includes shorter shifts, stricter stable regulations, and increased attention to their horses' health. She also says she had Burke arrested for "assaulting" her in Downtown, and overall thinks that most protesters aren't willing to hear her side of the issue. They simply want horse carriages removed from the city's streets.
"We have never received a single citation from the city, the county, or the state's agriculture department - all three entities come and inspect our horses and carriages on a regular basis," Araim tells CL. "They come out all the time, and actually more than they're supposed to, because every time those groups come out and file a complaint, they have to come out and inspect."
According to Burke, animal right activists have fought on behalf of Atlanta's carriage-drawn horses as far back as 1988. But the cause hasn't seen much progress. In recent years, similar efforts have gained steam in New York City, where several mayoral candidates are now vowing to ban the practice if elected.
Burke says that Atlanta's horse-drawn carriage operators are allowed to continue operating due to an "astounding" lack of regulation. "There's no oversight or real-time administration of the law," she tells CL.
"The city's not designed to accommodate horse-drawn carriages," adds Burke. "They don't really have the space set aside for carriage stands like they should. They don't have shelter or water for the horses at the carriage stands. If they insist on having horse-drawn carriages in the city, they need to put money into facilities to have the right facilities."
CL also reached out to Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall, who represents much of Downtown, and Fantasy Carriage for this story. If we hear back from either, we'll post an update.
According to Georgia Voice, Inserection owner Michael Morrison is planning to launch a campaign against the councilman who represents much of northeast Atlanta. An official announcement, he says, could come sometime next week.
Morrison admits that have he "may not be electable" because of his past record. In 2005, he spent two-and-a-half years behind bars for tax evasion. He was also forced to pay $1.4 million back to the Internal Revenue Service. But he's already made his campaign message loud and clear: "a vote for me is a vote against Alex Wan."
Former CL staff writer Scott Henry spoke to Morrison as part of a 2003 cover story on Fulton Industrial Boulevard's then-burgeoning red-light district:
The Atlanta City Council voted yesterday against two ordinances proposed by Councilman Alex Wan that would have forced adult video stores, strip clubs, and sex shops to find a new home.
In a statement, Wan said he was disappointed after spending months championing the legislation, which would have required adult businesses to comply with special zoning restrictions or move by 2018. Despite taking his fair share of flak in the process, he said he would "remain committed" to improving Cheshire Bridge Road in other ways.
"The two rezoning papers I introduced would have made it easier for the residents, businesses and other stakeholders along Cheshire Bridge Road to further revitalize the business corridor," Wan said in a statement. "The changes would have allowed for businesses more compatible with the needs of the community, and restrict those that are incompatible with the surrounding neighborhoods."
Wan had received support from several neighborhood associations, the area's Neighborhood Planning Unit, the city's law department, and the city's planning department. But he couldn't overcome growing concerns over the bad precedent the legislation would possibly set.
During yesterday's packed Council meeting, Wan boiled all the arguments down to his fellow councilmembers and asked:
At the end of the day, the question before you is simple: are we community people who support the efforts a community takes to improve our city through planning and visioning? The business owners and neighborhoods have done exactly what we've asked them to. They did a study, created a plan, enacted zoning, they looked for tools to realize that vision...They have done their part. The question is: will we?
Nevertheless, his pleas fell short in a 6 to 9 vote. Those who voted against the Cheshire Bridge ordinances were Councilmembers Kwanza Hall, Ivory Lee Young, Jr., Cleta Winslow, Natalyn Archibong, Howard Shook, Yolanda Adrean, Felicia Moore, C.T. Martin and Joyce Sheperd. Project Q Atlanta nicely explained the rationale behind Martin and Moore's votes:
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