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Park space and grocery store planned for East Decatur Station

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Park space and grocery store planned for East Decatur Station

An updated site plan drawing for the East Decatur Station redevelopment shows the location of a new public park bordered by Freeman and New Streets (lower right side of the drawing).

By Cathi Harris, contributor 

Decatur, GA — The new mixed use development proposed for East Decatur Station will include more dedicated greenspace as well as a possible “specialty grocer” as one of the tenants, according to updated plans released by the developer Tuesday.

Instead of the 405 residential units that were originally planned, builder Northwood Ravin plans “a more compact footprint” of 372 units in order to leave space for a one-acre public park and room for a larger commercial tenant.

“A lot of these changes were precipitated by some of the retail interest that we have started to receive, which is – I think – very exciting for this area,” Ben Yorker, Northwood Ravin’s vice president of development told members of the Decatur Planning Commission. “There is the possibility, for example, of having a specialty grocer at this location.”

Yorker declined to name the outfits that had expressed interest in the development, but said modifications to the plans were made in response to feedback from several “likely suspects.”

The development will still contain the 41 units of affordable housing originally agreed to when the 400+  total units were planned, in keeping with Decatur’s inclusionary zoning requirements. They will not seek a reduction in the number of affordable housing units, even though the total number of units is lower, Yorker added.

The revised plans call for setting aside a one-acre parcel bordering Freeman and New Streets as public greenspace that would either be deeded to the city or established as a permanent easement allowing public access. 

The builder sought Planning Commission approval to amend the ordinance approved by the City Commission in December granting several special exceptions to design standards. They are not seeking any new exceptions, but do want to retain the ones granted previously, Yorker said.

The amended plans also received the approval of the Decatur Downtown Development Authority (DDA), with some recommended conditions, said Angela Threadgill, the DDA’s executive director.

“This is, in the DDA’s opinion, a better overall product, while at the same time they are not asking for any greater special exceptions than those that were granted previously,” Threadgill told the commission.

The commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of an amended ordinance that reflects the stated changes to the development. It must now go before the City Commission for final approval.

In other business, the Planning Commission also voted unanimously to recommend approval of a special exception allowing the property owner of 315 West Ponce de Leon Avenue to convert an old bank drive-thru on the property to dedicated off-street parking. Laurel David, an attorney representing the property owner, said that no increase in paved surface is planned, but the owners want to re-stripe the existing lot to eliminate the unused drive-thru lanes and create separate parking spaces. The drive-thru structure will remain in place, with two covered spaces used for accessible parking spaces and the remaining structure used as an outdoor seating area.

The commission recommended approval with a condition requiring the owner to work with the city arborist to install trees along the street in front of the parking area.

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