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United Methodist Children’s Home planning begins Feb. 11, ‘civic dinners’ planned

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United Methodist Children’s Home planning begins Feb. 11, ‘civic dinners’ planned

The former United Methodist Children's Home in Decatur. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt
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The United Methodist Children’s Home in Decatur. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

This story has been updated. 

The city of Decatur is officially kicking off the planning process for the United Methodist Children’s Home campus on Sunday, Feb. 11.

During the recent City Commission retreat, commissioners also discussed a proposed series of “civic dinners” that will be used to gather input for how the property will be used.

The Feb. 11 meeting starts at 1 p.m. and will be held at 500 South Columbia Drive in Decatur.

Here’s the full announcement from the city:

Make plans to join us as we get this once-in-a-lifetime project underway.

KICK-OFF CELEBRATION + VISIONING WORKSHOP
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 1-5 P.M.
500 SOUTH COLUMBIA DRIVE, DECATUR

In August of last year, the City of Decatur completed its purchase of the 77 acre United Methodist Children’s Home on South Columbia Drive. And now, in the months ahead, we’ll work together as a community to create a vision for its future use.

There will be more details to come later this week. Visit decaturnext.com for updates on the full process.

The city purchased the 77-acre campus in 2017 for $40 million. The city made the purchase using its newly created Public Facilities Authority, which borrowed most of the money for the deal. The city also received a low interest $11.5 million loan through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority. The loan will pay for the purchase of 22 acres out of the total 77 acre campus on South Columbia Drive. The city won’t be able to develop this property as part of the loan agreement.

City Commissioners and city staff discussed the planning process for the property during the commission’s annual retreat on Jan. 25 and Jan. 26. Decaturish attended the meeting which was held two hours away from the city in Young Harris, Ga.

Decatur Planning Director Angela Threadgill said the city will be asking people to host “civic dinners” as part of the feedback process. The meal – which doesn’t necessarily have to be dinner, but could be breakfast, brunch, second breakfast, lunch, etc. – would be headed up by a resident or business owner hosting between six and 10 people. They will be provided with a host kit and the meals will have a theme. The meal lasts an hour and a half and the host shares the feedback with the city’s consulting team.

So how can someone sign up to host a dinner?

Threadgill said, “The civic dinners project website will be set up in the coming days and released closer to the kick-off meeting. We’ll do an update on DecaturNext when it goes live and is ready for dinner hosts.”

City Manager Peggy Merriss said during the meeting that one of the things that will emerge from the planning process will be a new name for the property, as UMCH the organization has relocated to Tucker and Clarkston.

Correction: An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect year for the purchase of the UMCH property. This story has been updated with the correct information. 

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Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

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