Atlanta is moving forward with an ambitious program to improve the safety of cyclists and pedestrians as they interact with vehicles along burgeoning Memorial Drive. The project starts about a half-mile east of the state Capitol and extends about a quarter-mile.
The Atlanta United soccer franchise plans to build its headquarters and $35 million training facility in DeKalb County. The DeKalb County Commission voted to approve the agreement with Atlanta United FC. It would involve a $12 million investment by the county. Credit Atlanta United
The new Atlanta United soccer franchise announced Tuesday that it had chosen DeKalb County for its headquarters and $35 million training facility. The DeKalb Commission voted earlier that day to approve the agreement with Atlanta United FC, one that would involve a $12 million investment by the county.
“Finally, something good is happening in DeKalb County.”
That’s what someone told me after the 4-3 vote by the DeKalb County Commission, approving an agreement with Atlanta United to locate its headquarters near the intersection of Memorial Drive and I-285.
That joy was short-lived.
A day later, former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers, who had been hired by DeKalb’s CEO Lee May to investigate possible corruption in the county, proclaimed that DeKalb was “rotten to the core.”
What a juxtaposition of highs and lows for Georgia’s fourth-largest county.
In recent years, several of DeKalb’s top officials have been indicted and found guilty of various ethical and legal breeches. It is a far cry from the DeKalb that existed 20 and 30 years ago when it was run by Manuel Maloof and Liane Levetan, both respected and powerful leaders in the region.
DeKalb leaders had hoped that the county’s tides were turning by winning the highly competitive Atlanta United headquarters.
On the day of the press briefing announcing the deal, the mood was uplifting, and team owner Arthur Blank, a co-founder of Home Depot, even became nostalgic about the decision. It was June 22, 1979, when Home Depot opened its very first store across the street from where Atlanta United plans to develop a 3,500-seat stadium and three additional soccer fields.
“It has come full circle,” Blank said, reflecting over his career. You see, for Blank, his investment in Atlanta’s Major League Soccer franchise is personal and close to his heart. He attended the event with his son, Joshua, an avid soccer fan and talented player.
Perhaps Atlanta United’s decision will improve the perception of a fractured DeKalb County and spark economic development in the Memorial Drive corridor.
But that may be too much to ask.
The county continues to be divided between North and South. Even the vote on the soccer facility was split, with the white commissioners voting against it, and the black commissioners voting for it.
It is too bad that the Atlanta United soccer franchise, located in “Central” DeKalb, has not yet united the county.
But as Blank said, the decision to base the soccer team at that location, felt like a spiritual journey for him, a coming home.
Let’s hope DeKalb’s journey will fuse a divided county into a united DeKalb.
Sidewalks, bicycle lanes and round-abouts could be installed along Memorial Drive sooner rather than later if commercial property owners support a possible tax hike. A newly formed group of volunteers is to devise a plan and gauge interest.
The construction moratorium along Memorial Drive could be lifted in early June, and new energy could be put behind a dormant task force that was supposed to implement a well-received planning study for the corridor, according to legislation introduced Monday to the Atlanta City Council.
Atlanta is a curious town when it comes to residents’ views of development. The latest example is unfolding in the wake of a six-month moratorium applied to development along the Memorial Drive corridor.
Atlanta’s next likely hotspot for redevelopment, Memorial Drive, could be relieved of a six-month building moratorium following a meeting Friday between a dozen affected developers and the sponsor of the moratorium, Atlanta City Councilmember Natalyn Archibong.
Memorial Drive has the potential to become a visually interesting and vibrant corridor along its section from Oakland Cemetery east to the Atlanta city limit, at Candler Road in DeKalb County.
At least, that’s the opinion of a group of Georgia Tech students who have spent their fall semester analyzing Memorial Drive. On Wednesday, they unveiled a report they and their professor think is so well developed that parts of it are ready to be implemented.
Social media is enabling the Georgia Tech analysis of Memorial Drive to proceed at a startling rate of speed.
As various findings appear on a Facebook page and are shared via other social media, interested parties are providing feedback to the Tech students in almost real time. Portions of a report presented Oct. 27 are already substantially out of date, Tech professor of practice Mike Dobbins said Tuesday.
Memorial Drive was buzzing a decade ago as homebuyers picked up units located close to Downtown Atlanta and Midtown, but at prices that reflected the street’s gritty urban texture.
These days, humming may be a better word to describe the pace of development. Another difference? Now there’s a bona fide effort to plan for the future of the corridor along a 5.5-mile stretch from I-75/85 to Candler Road.
A group of Georgia Tech graduate students, working under the guidance of Mike Dobbins, a Tech professor of practice, are devising a framework plan for the Memorial Drive corridor. Consider just this one fact the students already have unearthed: