Residents express concern about traffic, parking at Fuqua Decatur Crossing meeting
By Dena Mellick, contributor
Fuqua Development held a meeting Monday evening at North Decatur United Methodist Church to share what will be Phase II of the planned Decatur Crossing development.
The development is located at the intersection of Scott Boulevard and North Decatur Road.
Den Webb, Land Use Attorney for Smith, Gambrell & Russell, showed renderings of a second mixed-use structure on the property. It will include 450 apartments, 80,000 square feet of retail space, and 15,000 square feet of office space.
It will begin about eight months after Phase I starts. That part of the development, planned for the front corner of North Decatur and Scott, will include 250 apartments and a few thousand feet of retail space.
Webb said the proposed development will have 1 acre of greenspace on the Scott Boulevard side. The anchor store will be an organic grocer that is yet to be finalized. He said the part of Blackmon Drive that currently connects North Decatur Road and Highway 78 will be moved to meet a traffic light in the plans for the redeveloped Suburban Plaza.
“As part of this development, Blackmon Drive will actually be realigned,” Webb said. “You can see, it will be shifted a little bit west to line up with the light that is proposed for the Suburban Plaza ingress, egress point.”
Neighbors expressed concern about the traffic impact of the development.
A man who identified himself as an architect asked, “If you align with the Wal-Mart entry … you may find a lot of the traffic from Wal-Mart cuts through there to get over to Scott Boulevard. Have you done a traffic study to find out whether people from Wal-Mart were more likely to turn onto North Decatur or whether they’re more likely to cut through your development to get over to Scott Boulevard?”
Fuqua representatives said a traffic study is underway, and an engineer is looking at potential issues. Webb said the group is submitting applications this Thursday to rezone the property to be Office-Commercial-Residential (OCR) and to get a special land use permit to allow for five-story apartments in Phase II. He said a look at the traffic concerns will ramp up after that.
“I have no problem with what you’re doing aesthetically; I’m just totally freaked out about the traffic,” said one resident.
Another summarized toward the end of the meeting, “I think it would be safe to say our biggest concern is traffic.”
After the meeting Decaturish asked Jeff Fuqua, founder of Fuqua Development, what he thought of the expressed traffic concerns. He said, “You know, most of the traffic, the 70,000 cars a day that are on Scott Boulevard are coming from out of the market. They’re not part of traffic that’s organic to the area. So that traffic’s still going to be there. Our development really captures traffic. The people that live and shop here probably live in the neighborhood. Generally speaking, when you build mixed-use developments, it actually creates a better traffic condition because people aren’t driving longer distances to get to your project.”
Other discussions focused on the parking and walkability of the development. Neighbors differed over whether there was too much surface parking in the plan. One person asked whether some of the surface parking could be sacrificed for more greenspace.
Another countered, “I don’t think those are big lots, and they don’t bother me.”
Webb said there are currently two parking decks on the church property now, and the proposed parking is comparable to what’s currently there.
One man indicated he was not pleased with the walkability of the project.
“I commend you for some of the work that you’ve been doing – the fact that you’re putting sidewalks in when there were none at all is wonderful – and that you’ve included some semblance of green space is obviously a nod to this community,” he said. “That being said, I don’t think you’re there yet. So, give more thought on how to truly make this a pedestrian-friendly environment.”
But another man disagreed, saying the sidewalks alone would make a major impact on walkability.
Webb responded, “This is not written in stone. We’re going to keep working on it.”
Fuqua reps said residents will start to see some activity soon. Webb said the Scott Boulevard Baptist Church will be demolished any day now.
More: The latest renderings of the Fuqua project.