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Avondale Estates mayor highlights development, smart growth in State of the City address

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Avondale Estates mayor highlights development, smart growth in State of the City address

Avondale Estates Mayor Jonathan Elmore delivered the State of the City address on Thursday, March 30, at Wild Heaven Beer. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

Avondale Estates, GA — Avondale Estates Mayor Jonathan Elmore highlighted smart growth and development in his State of the City address on Thursday, March 30, at Wild Heaven Beer.

Last year, the city delivered the Town Green project. That project also includes a commercial development. Construction on the commercial development is slated to begin this year.

“In other news, Fabric Development is scheduled to start construction on the Town Green marketplace adjacent to the market pavilion in our Town Green in the fall,” Elmore said.

The commercial development will be two buildings.

“Then we’re going to have two two-story commercial developments that will bring restaurants, local retailers, office space and public bathrooms to the Town Green. It’ll kind of complete that project,” Elmore said.

Also looking ahead, construction on the U.S. 278 complete street project is likely to begin in the fall. The complete streets project is a road diet of U.S. 278 that will reduce the street from five lanes to three lanes between Sam’s Crossing and Ashton Place.

The corridor will have a 10-foot pathway throughout, and a five-foot landscape zone will run between the sidewalk and the edge of the curb. The project will include repaving U.S. 278, re-striping the road and upgrading all the traffic signals. The project is scheduled to go out for bid in the first quarter of 2023, which is contingent on finalizing right-of-way plans and approvals from the Georgia Department of Transportation.

“Arguably, the most impactful project since the creation of our city will be [the U.S.] 278, the complete street project. This past year we set major milestones, namely right of way acquisition, and we’re moving forward with construction documents and the whole construction review and permit process,” Elmore said. “Building a true Main Street with pedestrian and bike paths from Sams Crossing to Clarendon will be truly transformative, creating a much safer environment and connecting our residents to downtown.”

Avondale Estates recently received a grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation to address improvements on Laredo Drive.

“Not only will the grant provide for full road replacement, but it will include the construction of a cycle track and improved connectivity at the entrance to the PATH Stone Mountain trail. The Georgia DOT will design, fund and manage the project for the city,” Elmore said. “Construction is expected to begin in 2024.”

In 2022, the city worked to make progress on implementing the city’s comprehensive development plan and downtown master plan.

The comprehensive development plan with six overarching pillars – encourage environmental and economic sustainability, expand a range of housing options, promote an active, healthy community, strengthen existing businesses and drive sustainable economic development, preserve the city’s historic character and create a diverse, welcoming environment.

“Through strategic planning we are building a city that is attractive to residents, businesses and investors by focusing on smart growth,” Elmore said. “For Avondale, smart growth incorporates a mix of different uses, different building types, architectural styles and housing types interconnected through bike and walking paths, transit and roads. For the last eight years, the board has pursued smart growth.”

Over the last couple of years, new buildings have been added in Avondale and older buildings have been renovated “to keep the quirky, creative spirit that defines Avondale Estates,” Elmore said.

“Many of those buildings have become home to some of our favorite spots. For instance, 120 Olive Street is now home to several new businesses, including one of the city’s award-winning craft breweries, Little Cottage,” he said. “At Olive and Pine, an extensive adaptive reuse of the old Mann Mechanical facility, that’s bringing new life to our downtown and a lot of it’s going to open pretty soon.”

Toll Brothers will also soon finish a townhome project in the northern part of the city that will diversify housing options in Avondale.

The city has additionally started analyzing and planning how it wants the Covington Highway corridor to look like. The city wanted to put thought into future development, so projects are knitted into the city.

Elmore added that the smart growth plans are paying off.

“In 2022, the commercial tax based increased by 19.2% over 2021. We issued more than 325 building permits and 25 new businesses opened in Avondale,” he said.

The city is making investments in infrastructure. Last year saw completion of North Woods phase one and major stormwater undertakings. Construction of phase two of the North Woods project, which includes rain gardens and a wooden walking path, will begin this spring.

“Flooding is one of the most aggravating issues facing residents in our city. Insufficient, broken or non-existent stormwater pipes are unable to handle runoff. They’re just not built for it,” Elmore said.

The city is making the investments and taking the steps necessarily to address stormwater issues. The city completed multiple stormwater projects last year, including the Majestic Circle drainage solution, repaired a sinkhole on Berkeley Road, and developed a stormwater hydrologic model.

Elmore also highlighted several events and opportunities the city held for residents to provide input to city officials, like coffee with a cop and walk and talk with the city manager. He noted that the Fourth of July parade will return this year.

Here are a few upcoming events:

– Easter antique car parade on April 9.

– Earth Day on April 22.

– The weekend wind down concerts will return in May, June, September, October and November.

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