Discussion about developer’s plans for Avondale provides few details

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt August 22, 2015
An aerial view of the Fenner Dunlop property. Source: Avondaleestates.org

An aerial view of the Fenner Dunlop property. Source: Avondaleestates.org

The agenda for the Avondale Estates City Commission work session on Aug. 19 raised hopes for more information about a massive, mixed-use project planned for the 13-acre Fenner Dunlop property.

But the developer, Euramex, didn’t attend the meeting. There were no drawings illustrating company’s proposal for the site. City Commissioners said they’d seen them, but Euramex didn’t leave copies for the public to inspect.

Commissioners also held private one-on-one meetings with the developer, avoiding a quorum which would’ve required the city to hold a public meeting about the project.

During public comments, resident Allan Kirwan asked when the city would give residents some substantive information about the project.

“When are we going to see somebody from Euramex here and have drawings,” Kirwan said. “… We haven’t seen that. This is a big deal.”

Commissioner Lindsay Forlines said the developer isn’t ready for a public discussion of its plans.

“They’re not ready to take this public like that,” she said.

Decaturish asked why commissioners had chosen to hold one-on-one conversations with the company, as opposed to a public meeting.

“I don’t think they would’ve come,” Forlines said.

Here’s what is known about the project so far. Euramex plans to build 200 apartments and 80 town homes on the property. The development will include about .6 acres of green space and two 10,000 square foot retail spaces along North Avondale Road. Forlines said one of those businesses will likely be a grocery store.

Commissioner Terry Giager said he wasn’t happy that the development has such a large component of residential property.

“I’m going to be the bad guy,” Giager said at the meeting. “I’ve been involved with three or four meetings. We have requested more retail. We have requested more green space and we haven’t received it. The green space they’re giving us, in my opinion, are courtyards for the town homes and the apartments. They aren’t anything close to a town green.”

Giager also noted that the city of Decatur has pushed back against a developer’s plans for a mixed-use project at the Callaway Building for having too many apartments and not enough commercial space.

“I think they need to give some because I have not really seen them to do anything to give us something,” Giager said. “They’re apartment builders and managers. We’re zoned for mixed use. I want to see mixed use and not where 75 percent of it is one building. I don’t think that’s in the character of Avondale right now I just think we have to put a heavier foot down.”

But other commissioners worried demanding too much might cause Euramex to back away from the project.

“I guess my biggest fear, if we’re too rigid, too demanding, too confined by our own particular desires and needs, that we end up with a developer throwing up their hands walking away and saying, ‘Good luck, hope you can find somebody else that will jump through all your hoops’ and so forth,” Commissioner John Quinn said.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

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  • Viola M

    I’m with Giager on this. Think of the wasted opportunity if this moves forward. Conversely, the plans for Avondale’s MARTA station development are truly mixed use, connected to transit, with a strong focus on pedestrian and bike culture with greenspace AND a greenway. This is set to positively and uniquely transform a long neglected area.

    Check out Euramex’s website for examples of their crappy suburban-style apartments. Let them walk.

  • DecaturMax

    Avondale is not Decatur. It does not have a dense core to support commercial. Decatur businesses struggled until new condos were built. Decatur square used to be a ghost town. Adding more commercial without density will be a failure and the developers know it. Avondale city center badly needs people there not more commercial. Come on Avondale… change can be good. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot! Push for more townhomes and less apartments, but don’t ruin your chances for urban renewal…….and maybe a grocery store.

  • MAJ D

    Are these the same guys that were not returning Avondale’s phone calls last year? Between that embarrassment and dodging meetings the process seems one sided and sketchy.

    Avondale has one chance to develop that property right and revitalize that part of the city. Do it wrong and you will have an eyesore forever.

    This is not the prom. The city can wait for the right design. Downtown all the way to Decatur is growing and every month that passes makes that property more attractive for redevelopment. If Euramex thinks they can make money on the development they will jump through whatever hoops they need to to make it happen.

  • KP

    While I want more retail in Avondale Estates, I question the viability of a grocery store that is a half mile from YDFM and 1.5 miles from a Kroger that is now the size of a small city.

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