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Decatur Planning Commission supports request from developers of Oakview Grocery building

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Decatur Planning Commission supports request from developers of Oakview Grocery building

Photo from 2021: Mission Builders is constructing a two-story mixed-use building on the site of the former Oakview Grocery store. The building will have retail space and residential units. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

This story has been updated. 

Decatur, GA — The Decatur Planning Commission, at its Dec. 13 meeting, unanimously recommended approval of an application for special exceptions filed by the developers of the Oakview Grocery building.

The building, which was also once called the Art Lab, was located at 1529 Oakview Road. It has since been torn down, and construction on a small mixed-use development there is almost complete.

Mission Builders applied for rezoning in June 2017, and the plans for the project were made part of the conditional approval for the rezoning, Decatur Planning and Economic Development Director Angela Threadgill previously said.

The building will have one residential unit and one commercial unit.

Kashka Scott, a general contractor with Mission Builders, said the company expects to finish the work on the site by the end of this year, or in the first quarter of next year. Scott said the company hasn’t identified who the commercial tenant will be, but he said there’s interest in turning it into a coworking space.

Mission requested a special exception to reduce the required streetscape standards for landscape zone and sidewalk width and a special exception to increase the maximum first-floor height allowed above grade level. City staff recommended approval of the special exceptions.

Scott said that without the exceptions, people in the neighborhood would not be happy with the result.

 “If I would have put it in like I was supposed to, I would’ve had a sidewalk going up to the fence of the neighbor,” Scott said. 

The staff report offers more detail about the city’s reasoning for supporting the request.

“The future of Oakview Road is subject to the Decatur PATH Connectivity Plan, whereby the portion adjacent to the subject property is a proposed
neighborhood greenway,” the staff report says. “Neighborhood greenways are streets with low motorized traffic volumes and speeds, designated and designed to give bicycle travel priority. Neighborhood greenways use signs, pavement markings, and speed/volume management measures to discourage through-traffic by motor vehicles. Sidewalks remain separate from bicycle and vehicular traffic. The Oakview Road connector is a four-phase project to begin following the completion of the Church Street cycle track and the Agnes Scott College Connector greenway and side path.”

The staff report says another consideration is that adjacent properties are subject to the requirements of a local street type, but this property is subject to collector/urban streetscape requirements.

“Abutting properties are zoned R-60 – Single Family residential and maintain an approximate 1-foot landscape zone and 3-feet sidewalk clear zone, as historically developed decades ago prior to the current streetscape requirements,” the staff report says. “If the required widths of the collector/urban street type were constructed, or even the widths proposed by the applicant, the zones would create disjointed continuity in the path of travel for pedestrians. The existing sidewalks to each side of the subject property would end into the proposed landscape zone.”

Adding to the report during the Dec. 13 meeting, Threadgill said, “It is disjointed, and it would not align. That path of pedestrian travel would be disjointed.” 

Planning commission members were receptive to the changes.

“It makes sense to me,” Commission Chair Harold Buckley, Jr. said.

The property in Oakhurst was once Oakview Grocery, which dates to about 1925. The property was last sold in 2015 for $265,000. The grocery store closed soon after, and the building was available for rent, according to Urbanize Atlanta. In 2016, Art Lab, a pop-up gallery and experiential space, moved into the former grocery store, but it has since closed.

For more information about this project, click here.

In other planning commission news, the Dec. 13 meeting was the last meeting of members Lori Leland-Kirk and Todd Ohlandt, who are leaving the board after six years of service.

Buckley and the other commission members thanked both of them for their work as board members.

Leland-Kirk and Ohlandt thanked board members and city staff.

“It’s been an honor to be on the planning commission these past six years … and I’m very proud of our commission and the way we deliberate very openly,” Leland-Kirk said. “We’re making these decisions right here in front of everyone.”

Ohlandt said he felt the same way.

“I really appreciate what the staff has done along the way as long as their patience and preparation and education for all of us,” he said. 

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