Newest Avondale annexation proposal includes Kensington MARTA stationPhoto obtained via the city of Avondale Estates website.
The Avondale Estates City Commission recently approved paying the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia $15,000 to study a new annexation proposal.
Carl Vinson would be tasked with figuring out whether the properties in the proposal would generate enough tax revenue to offset the cost of the city providing services to these areas.
According to a map provided by the city, that proposal would include the Kensington MARTA station. A redevelopment near the station has been a source of contention among city residents.
The DeKalb County’s Planning Commission approved the construction of 240 units, all of which would be affordable. According to Saporta Report, the Avondale Estates City Commission sent the county a letter in July saying it opposed the development and favors a mixed-income project.
Mayor Jonathan Elmore said the city wants to have some control over the development by Kensington.
“We would like to have some say in what happens on that site and we would like to receive that tax benefit,” he said.
If the annexation proposal becomes a reality, Kensington would be the first MARTA transit station in Avondale’s city limits. The Avondale MARTA station is actually in the city limits of Decatur, as is the East Lake MARTA station, named for a community in the city of Atlanta.
Annexation is an explosive topic in the city, which has conducted two previous studies on annexation proposals that went nowhere. Former mayor Ed Rieker had resigned in 2014 following a controversy over the city’s annexation plans.
While there are several ways to annex property into city limits, including petitions filed by property owners, in the past Avondale has leaned on its legislative delegation to approve annexation measures that would have to be subsequently approved by voters in a referendum.
Decaturish left a message with state Rep. Karla Drenner, D-Avondale Estates, seeking comment.
The proposal also includes some long-coveted commercial property in the Rio Circle area and the Katie Kerr neighborhood.
Mayor Elmore and new City Manager Patrick Bryant also updated Decaturish on some other projects going on around the city:
– Avondale Estates is still pursing a “road diet” for US 278 (known locally as North Avondale Road), reducing the city’s main thoroughfare from five lanes to three between Ashton Place and Sam’s Crossing. The project was awarded a $1.5 million grant over the summer.
“We’ve had a couple of meetings with the Georgia Department of Transportation and our contractor who is preparing information on road diet designs and alternatives,” Bryant said. “The message from GDOT was all of their analysis indicated the project was feasible and the city was fine to move ahead with proposals to GDOT for a potential road diet.”
Mayor Elmore said the city would hold public meetings in the coming months to discuss the project.
“We’re about to enter the design phase,” Elmore said.
– The City Commission recently awarded a $27,600 contract to Pond & Company for the first phase of the city’s downtown street grid project.
“At either end of our central business district, we have an incomplete grid. We want to create better connections, more pedestrian friendly block sizes, more connectivity,” Mayor Elmore said.
Bryant added, “The end result of that will make the area more appealing for future development.”
The project will involve creating new streets and lengthening existing ones.
“It could involve Washington Street,” Elmore said. “It could involve Franklin Street. It could involve entirely new streets.”
– A project spearheaded by Avila, which was previously known as Euramex Management, hasn’t gotten off the ground.
The company bought the 13-acre Fenner Dunlop property in Avondale Estates in 2014, with plans to turn it into a mixed-use project. But nothing substantive has happened since.
Bryant and Mayor Elmore did not know when things might begin to happen at the site.
“We’ve been in ongoing discussions with them about the property they own and the future development opportunity associated with it,” Bryant said. “We hope they decide to move forward … As a city, we’re going to work hand in hand with them.”
So what’s the hold up?
“I don’t think they’re stalling,” Bryant said. “It’s one of those situations where they own a bunch of property throughout the greater metropolitan area and they’re moving through those one by one and developing them as resources become available to them.”
Bryant said the city is hopeful that Avila will see the city as a prime investment opportunity.
“We’re talking to them and trying to demonstrate to them that the Avondale community is attractive for development right now and we’ll help them through the process,” he said.