Decatur Commission sends plans for Callaway Building back to drawing board

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt September 22, 2015
The Callaway Building, located at 120 West Trinity Place, is behind Decatur High School. Source: Google Maps

The Callaway Building, located at 120 West Trinity Place, is behind Decatur High School. Source: Google Maps

The Decatur City Commission on Sept. 21 delivered a subtle message to the developers of the Callaway Building at 120 West Trinity Place: try again.

The commission unanimously and without discussion referred plans back to the city’s Downtown Development Authority for further review. Commissioner Bill Bolling asked if it would affect the timeline for construction of the mixed-use project. Commissioners were assured that further review of the plans wouldn’t create significant delays for the developer, Cousins Properties.

“We’re assuming there’s a relatively large amount of time here,” Mayor Jim Baskett said. “They’re not going to be ready to do any construction for some time here.”


Last month, commissioners balked at approving variances for the project, citing too much residential and not enough commercial spaces in the plans. City Commission candidate John Ridley has called for ending that contract and using the property for the city’s schools, but commissioners have shown no indication that they’re reconsidering a commercial use for the Callaway Building.

The city has an agreement with Cousins Properties to redevelop the 5.25 acre site. The city purchased the property from DeKalb County using $5.12 million borrowed by issuing bonds. Plans for the building go back to at least 2011.

City Manager Peggy Merriss said after the meeting that there’s no guarantee that the plans will be revised.

“(They) could come back and say, ‘You know, we’ve looked at it every which way we can and what we had is the best plan,'” Merriss said.

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  • King Tommer

    City officials seem to be waffling between telling residents to chill because apartments don’t mean more kids in the schools ( and balking at Callaway plans because they are worried about how much residential there is, and the impact to schools. It’d sure be nice if the city didn’t berate residents for voicing the same concerns that commissioners seem to have.

  • Walter Winn

    Folks, using the Callaway Property as a place to build a new City Schools of Decatur Middle School makes more sense than anything that is and has been proposed for this high profile piece of Downtown Decatur. Just envision this…..”Using it as a new Middle School would be a perfect transition to Decatur High School, RIGHT NEXT DOOR and would also ensure that the whole city block bounded by Trininy, Commerce, E. Howard and N. McDonough would then become totally the CSD’s Property. And, there would be cost savings because of efficiencies due to the sharing of facilities”. IMO, Downtown Decatur has enough retail shopping areas for a city our size. Lastly, again “do not make another DeVry mistake”. That is costing every City of Decatur Homeowner money because of higher taxes.

    • Andrew

      Can you explain how the DeVry property is costing homeowners? Granted, the market didn’t respond in developing it as we had hoped but it’s still a large commercial tract paying property taxes, increasing tax revenues over what we had before, isn’t it? What’s the cost to homeowners?

    • Ezy E

      I believe k-12 public school sites in Ga must be min. 6 acres. If that’s the case, CSD would have to take another acre via eminent domain to build a nea k-12 school. Alternatively they could expand DHS or build a preschool there.

  • Oakhurst Rez

    Am I missing something here. Why is the city trying so hard to push commercial development when I am about to vote on another bond referendum for schools. It is beyond obvious that this property should be used for the expansion needs of the school system, whether it be Decatur High or otherwise. Why are they putting tax revenue above the needs of the schools if they have been screaming from the mountain tops about the school issue. I didn’t come to Decatur to pay outrageous taxes, and then possibly vote to pay more with a new bond, for my kids to go to school in trailers.

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