DeKalb CEO proposing Downtown DeKalb

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt January 22, 2015
DeKalb County CEO Lee May delivers his State of the County address on Jan. 22, 2015. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

DeKalb County CEO Lee May delivers his State of the County address on Jan. 22, 2015. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

Decaturish has obtained an advance copy of DeKalb County CEO Lee May’s “State of the County” speech, and it provides a broad outline of his plans for moving administrative offices from downtown Decatur.

The relevant portion of the speech …

Just as we will focus on economic development around Emory University and the CDC, the Memorial Drive Corridor will received that same focus. The redevelopment of Memorial Drive is essential to the future of DeKalb County. It is my vision to turn it into our “Downtown DeKalb,” through tourism, office, commercial and residential development. We will take advantage of the corridor’s proximity to both Stone Mountain Park and the State Capitol.

This vision is about giving attention to a part of the county that has been neglected for decades. I believe, once complete, this vision will create and bring hundreds of thousands of new visitors to DeKalb. Multitudes of young families will buy homes in the area and a new generation of active retirees will find that Memorial Drive has everything they’re looking for in a vibrant community. To this end, we will be seeking buy-in from the private sector as we seek opportunities through public-private partnerships.

The catalyst for this wholesale transformation will be the creation of a new Government Center at the heart of Memorial Drive. And a renewed focus on transit-oriented development at the Kensington MARTA station. This new Government Center will be the anchor of “Downtown DeKalb.”

With access to the interstate, MARTA rail station, and the hundreds of acres of publicly-owned land, this area is ripe for development.

We are at the State of the County speech and will be following up with May and city of Decatur leaders for more details.

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Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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  • Ann Barber

    Thank you for this report. This proposal seems to be out of the blue for many. Were there any drawings of the proposed improvements?

    • Nope. This is all very preliminary as far as I can tell.

    • Brad

      All spelled out in the Kensington LCI, and a Government complex was one
      of the recommendations:

      • notapunk

        The Kensington LCI calls for 640,000 square feet of government space. How much does DeKalb (minus courts) occupy now in Decatur (and elsewhere)?

  • cps

    “It is my vision to turn it into our “Downtown DeKalb,” through tourism,…” lol, good luck with that.

  • lol

    Hanging out in Downtown Dekalb sounds super fun. We can grab a bite to eat, stop off and visit loved ones in the jail, and get our tags renewed in that crummy building on our way out to Stone Mountain. Woo hoo!

    • YouGoneLearn2Day

      If it ain’t white it ain’t right. If Decatur is all that why haven’t you all taken care to get in a position to school your Special Needs students the same as you do all the rest? You have nothing for them after the 3rd grade! The great City of Decatur can’t afford to school ALL of their students within their city- woo hoo! You have to bus them to other areas outside of Decatur. You all aren’t in as good a position as you might think.

  • whoDean

    Utter folly. But what else could we expect from that government

  • DHer

    Might have helped if he had run that idea by some private developers first. They could have told him their market opinion about locating on Memorial Drive.

  • dumb

    Underground Dekalb

  • notapunk

    This is the kind of crap that drives cityhood movements. What a total waste of money and time.

    • DH

      And don’t forget annexation. Atlanta here we come!

      • YouGoneLearn2Day

        Bye, the High School will remain in DeKalb

        • Susan In NoMansLand

          The high school WON’T remain in DeKalb if the TiA annexation is successful. Attend some meetings so you understand all this.

          Today, the Dunwoody High principal told a bunch of private school parents all about the wonderful Fernbank STT program. Non of them are aware of the TiA plan, but I imagine they will soon learn! And I imagine they will press Fran Millar into blocking your annexation.

          • YouGoneLearn2Day

            It will remain in DeKalb. I’ll attend whatever meetings I choose, you’re not the boss of me so don’t try and tell me what to do.

            Interestingly you said ‘if’ not ‘when’. You talk long enough you might convince yourself. lol

            White flight is nothing new. We don’t care. Like I said…bye

            APS v/s ATL Beltline (cut off your nose to spite your face)

          • DH

            White flight to a city with an African american majority?

  • underscorex

    So what you’re saying is that the Dekalb County government is somehow going to secede from its own county seat?


    • YouGoneLearn2Day

      So what were you saying about cityhood, annexation, City of Decatur taking things to cover their crap because they’re short of money, Lakeside, Briarcliff, Druid Hills? Well goose… gander

  • CMR

    Good Gracious! Just when you thought this circus couldn’t get any more abhorrent, out come the *ss clowns.

    Although, there may be some effective synergies created by moving the Dekalb Government center closer to the jail. Or perhaps we can host an annual event for tourists… We can call it Freaknik.

    Mr. May, people don’t want or need an “empowerment zone” in Dekalb. Ask former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell how that’s going for him.

    We want better schools, more police, coupled with coherent and nimble investment. We want a transparent accounting of every dollar spent by county government. All of this without a whiff of the stench of corruption that has engulfed our once fair county.

    These modest goals and proposals will bring (and retain) more families and retirees to our neighborhoods here in Dekalb and return the vibrancy we all seek in our community.

    • lol

      You know you may be on to something. The corrupt officials could very quickly be moved straight from their office to the jail cell where they belong.

    • YouGoneLearn2Day

      Nobody asked you what you want. As he said the area has been neglected for DECADES! You all agree with BS if it seems to be right for/to whites! It’s not right for Decatur to take commercial property but shhh on the residents and leave them out. Dose of your own medicine, open wide and swallow. It’s just getting started.

  • John Adcox

    Frankly, I hope he’s right and that he can pull it off. That would be wonderful if there is anyway to make it practical. Now, if he can also tackle Scott Blvd….

    • YouGoneLearn2Day

      I agree

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