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Decatur City Commission approves special exception for 240-room hotel

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Decatur City Commission approves special exception for 240-room hotel

The Decatur City Commission considered several development related agenda items, including approving special exceptions for a 240-room hotel, during its regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 25, at City Hall. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

This story has been updated.

Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission, at its Sept. 25 regular meeting, approved special exceptions for a proposed hotel to be located at 213 Swanton Way in downtown Decatur.

Vision Hospitality Group requested special exceptions for a 240-room hotel development to increase the building height to 82 feet and allow 100% of the parking to be off-site. The maximum building height allowed is 80 feet, and the developers plan to partner with nearby parking decks to provide parking to hotel patrons.

The planning commission recommended approval with conditions. Decatur’s Downtown Development Authority supported the project.

The hotel will feature two different brands: Tempo and Homewood Suites, both owned by Hilton. The developers are seeking to have 100% of the parking off-site.

Additionally, the hotel will boast a rooftop restaurant with views called the Bluestone, an Australian restaurant chain. In working with city staff, it was agreed that the hotel would also have on-street parking, a six-foot landscape zone around the hotel, a four-foot bicycle lane, and a 10-foot sidewalk zone for pedestrians.

Resident Kathie Gannon spoke on behalf of Downtown Decatur Neighbors and raised a couple of concerns about the development. She encouraged the city and the architect to avoid creating a dead zone along Commerce Drive. She also urged the city to reevaluate landscape strips and what those should look like.

In other business:

– The city commission amended the memorandum of understanding with the Decatur Downtown Development Authority for supplemental security and law enforcement services within the downtown business district. The city will be hiring off-duty police officers to patrol downtown on the weekends.

The pilot program will be extended through Dec. 31. The city commission and DDA approved the MOU in April to hire off-duty police officers to provide supplemental security and law enforcement services within downtown Decatur. Off-duty officers will continue to patrol the Square and in the city’s other business districts from 5:30 p.m. to midnight on Thursdays and Fridays, and from 4 p.m. to midnight on Saturdays and Sundays.

They will monitor the Square, as well as East and West Ponce de Leon Avenue, between North Candler Street and Commerce Drive; Church Street, between East Ponce de Leon Avenue and West Trinity Place; Clairemont Avenue, from East Ponce to Commerce Drive; and other areas as identified during the pilot program.

City Manager Andrea Arnold said that off-duty Decatur Police officers, as well as officers from other agencies, can participate in the program. She added that most officers that patrolled the downtown business districts were from the Decatur Police Department and a few from the DeKalb District Attorney’s Office and DeKalb Marshal’s Office provided security services during the initial four months of the program from April to August.

“In particular, I think it’s important that the program continue as we are entering the busiest, and I would argue, the most important season for our businesses, but also with the caveat that the plan would be that this program ultimately would sunset at the end of the year, with the expectation that we would have additional police officers on staff but also…that we would see the ambassador program being implemented,” Arnold said.

She added that the ambassador program would aim to address many issues related to security and also focus on the cleanliness of the square, including trash pick up, pressure washing on the Square, litter removal, and beautification efforts.

“We are looking at private companies to provide this ambassador service,” Arnold said. “A recommendation for that program will be forthcoming, but the development of that program is in the works.”

– The city commission approved a rezoning request for a residential property at 0 S. Candler Street and 538 S. Candler Street. The property owner is seeking to rezone from R-60 – Single Family Residential to R-50 – Single Family Residential and plans to replat the property as two lots that are 50 feet wide.

There is currently a single-family house at 538 S. Candler Street and 0 S. Candler Street is a vacant lot.

“The present Land Use designation of RL – Low Density Residential would remain unchanged,” the city staff report says. “Each lot is a legal lot of record, however, 0 S. Candler Street is a non-conforming lot due to its substandard lot area and street frontage. If the rezoning is approved, a replat of the properties would result in two, approximately 50-ft. wide lots and each lot would be more than 12,000 sq. ft. in lot area.”

– The city commission authorized the mayor and city manager to execute the necessary documents to purchase 475 Landover Drive in the amount of $560,000 through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Program.

“The property purchase is one property comprised of two tax parcels totaling around 0.4 acre,” Deputy City Manager David Junger said. “The property contains one single-family home. The property is located in the floodplain and is being acquired with a combination of funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency Hazard Mitigation Grant Program – it will provide 75% of the funding – and the city’s stormwater utility fund, which will provide 25% of matching funds.”

The single-family home will be demolished. The city commission approved the FEMA grant application in June 2019 and the property owners have executed a contract, Junger said.

“Acquisition of this property will afford the city the opportunity to expand our public greenspace,” he said.

The city anticipates closing on the property in October.

– The commission also approved a right-of-way agreement with NR East Decatur Property Owner, LLC for the East Freeman Street extension. The extension is part of North Wood Ravin’s mixed-use development planned for 711-747 E. College Ave., 114-134 New Street, and 121 Sams Street.

– The city commission additionally amended the memorandum of understanding between the city and the Decatur Arts Alliance in support of Sam’s Crossing Village art program to extend the MOU to March 31, 2024.

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