East Lake MARTA report shows space for 430 multi-family unitsThe entrance to the East Lake MARTA station. Photo obtained via Wikimedia Commons
Decatur city commissioners will soon receive a report about the future possibilities for redeveloping the East Lake MARTA station.
The study that will be presented on April 16 will show that there is the potential for developing 430 multi-family units on the north and south side of the station. East Lake would become another MARTA Transit Oriented Development, a mixed-use project designed to increase use of the station, which the city says is underutilized. According to the plan, at least 20 percent of the units would be affordable housing.
Last year the city hired the TSW planning firm to conduct the study. Most of the money for the study came from a grant, and the remaining costs were divided among the city of Decatur, the city of Atlanta and MARTA.
Thomas Walsh, a founding principal at TSW, said the plan includes important concessions to the neighborhoods, like limiting the heights of buildings, with a maximum height of five stories along College Avenue.
“I think the biggest takeaway, which I think is very cool, is the Paden Circle park, the one acre park that’s a detention system now,” he said. “[The plan is] converting it more to a park for the people. The other takeaway [is the plan] trying to make the south and north feel like they’re one in the same project.”
There will be protected bike lanes on the streets around the development.
“I really believe in these walkable communities,” Walsh said. “We’ve got to develop more projects where people can live and not have to rely on the car.”
The study also looked at adjacent property owned by AT&T, but that property is not on the market.
The City Commission could formally adopt the plan in May. Where the plan goes from there is really up to MARTA, Decatur Planning Director Angela Threadgill said.
“MARTA has expressed there are no immediate plans to proceed and remain focused on other transit stations in their system,” she said.
Walsh said MARTA wants to focus on projects outside the city. Decatur already has one transit oriented development under construction at the Avondale MARTA station.
“It’s a minimum of five years before you see anything happen,” Walsh said. “They want to do some other stations further west so there’s a balance of equity among all the different neighborhoods.”