City moving forward with development of Callaway Building

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt February 16, 2015
Decatur City Hall

Decatur City Hall

Decatur’s City Commission on Tuesday will consider rezoning city-owned property for a mixed use development.

The proposal to rezone the Callaway Building at 120 West Trinity Place would change its use from institutional to commercial. DeKalb County currently occupies the building but the county’s lease ends in October of this year.

“The Decatur Downtown Development Authority has reached an agreement with Cousin’s Properties to purchase the site and redevelop it as a mixed use project once the County vacates the existing office building,” the staff report for the rezoning request says.

It could be the future site of 370 apartment units, according to the report. The city selected Cousins through a competitive bid process, according to Decatur Planning Commission minutes. The sale of the property is conditioned on the rezoning being approved, according to the commission minutes.

The city purchased the 5.25 acre site using $5.12 million borrowed by issuing bonds.

There have been questions about whether the property could be used to address City Schools of Decatur’s need for additional space. Current City Schools of Decatur enrollment is more than 4,300 students. Enrollment projections show the city adding somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 students by 2020, depending on the growth scenario.

Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss said that the Callaway Building would provide much needed commercial tax revenue to fund school system expansions.

During a joint work session of City Commissioners and School Board members held in November, Merriss said, “We’ve looked at it as a redevelopment opportunity because it is certainly a prime piece of real estate. We have a lot of prime real estate that’s not (generating tax revenue).”

The City Commission will meet on Feb. 17 beginning with a work session at 5:15 pm. The regular meeting begins at 7:30 pm. Meetings are held at City Hall, located at 509 North McDonough Street. All meetings are open to the public.

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  • An American Patriot

    I will be glad to the the Callaway Building reduced to nothing. It has been an eyesore in a high profile area in Decatur for years and years. Would be a great place to put a new middle school surrounded by a running track that the high school has never had; however, in as much as all these new homes, condos, townhouses and apartments being built in our city must not be producing enough revenue to satisfy the money hungry commission, there will probably be more housing units and retail shops built. There comes a time when enough is enough and IMO, it has come.

  • Lindsay

    My question is, why build apartments? It seems to me that that will inevitably increase the number of kids attending our already strained school system. Isn’t a big part of this push for annexation for Decatur to get some more commercial properties to increase its tax base? I don’t understand why they would permit more housing units in that space when it is great real estate and could be developed solely into commercial units. Am I missing something here?

    • Andrew

      As the soon-to-be owner of the property, Cousins can build whatever they want, so long as it’s allowed under our downtown zoning (which includes retail, office and various forms of housing). I have to assume they believe the market for downtown apartments hasn’t peaked yet. Either way though, apartments are a commercial use and pay taxes accordingly.

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