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Decide DeKalb launches new development opportunity sites inventory GIS tool

Business DeKalb County

Decide DeKalb launches new development opportunity sites inventory GIS tool

Pullman Yards. Photo by Dean Hesse.

DeKalb County, GA — Decide DeKalb has launched a new GIS tool to spur the redevelopment of local properties, with an emphasis on sites that need environmental cleanup.

To see the new GIS tool, click here.

Decide DeKalb serves as the primary arm of economic development and job growth for DeKalb County, according to a press release. The GIS tool launched on the county’s website on July 5.

The new database is a collaboration between Decide DeKalb Development Authority and Commissioner Robert Patrick, presiding officer of the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners, who allocated $30,000 in Commission District 1 funds for the GIS tool. Patrick is also a member of the Decide DeKalb board.

The GIS tool emphasizes available sites, blighted areas, and land in the county that is ready for development, as well as brownfield locations that need some improvement.

“Decide DeKalb is thrilled to finally have an all-encompassing inventory system that identifies available sites ready for development in the county,” said Dorian DeBarr, president of Decide DeKalb. “Developers now have the ability to research brownfield sites – and hopefully redevelop these special sites – that perhaps may not have been on their radar otherwise. Every time a brownfield site is redeveloped, it’s a win for residents because it enhances our community and quality of life for everyone.”

Brownfields are former business and industrial sites that may pose risks to public health from exposure to hazardous chemicals. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the Brownfields Economic Redevelopment Initiative in 1995 to encourage communities to restore brownfield sites. The level of contamination at brownfield sites varies, though there is usually contaminated soil or building materials present.

For example, Pullman Yards, East Decatur Greenway, and Assembly Atlanta are brownfields that have been improved with funds from Decide DeKalb’s Revolving Loan Fund through the EPA. Over the last five years, Decide DeKalb has been awarded $4.2 million to oversee this brownfield work.

DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond said the brownfields project responds to an often-repeated request from developers and investors for help in clearing unforeseen regulatory hurdles and is also a common-sense use of taxpayer resources.

“In my view, this is a win-win-win,” Thurmond said. “The development community has an easily accessible resource for potential projects and what challenges they may present; the citizens of DeKalb County will see potentially hazardous properties assessed, cleaned up and redeveloped; and – most of all – the environment is better for everyone who lives, works and plays in DeKalb County.”

Patrick added that there is no question the tool will have an impact on DeKalb County, which is why he championed its creation.

“Along with Decide DeKalb, I want to advance meaningful development and revitalization in the county. We know this tool will lead to a greener, more sustainable DeKalb County,” Patrick said.

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