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31 Comments

  1. 1

    Redevelopment Powers 101

    If the Georgia State Constitution allowed municipalities to take over another city’s debt, City of Brookhaven could own Doraville in about 7 years.

    Another TAD in addition to the GM complex? Someone should ask the mayor to create audited financial statements for both TAD’s. Doh, wait. None required with Redevelopment Powers Law, but Emminent Domain is. Good luck existing downtown land owners. You’re out. Central Planning Urban Utopia to follow surrounded by unfunded dirt roads for transportation.

  2. 2
  3. 3

    tom doolittle

    The CURRENT TAD includes this area. That’s one of the big problems with it. Mainly it confuses the desire of state, regional and county interest in developing the GM site with the OTHER desires of the city–in which the state and county should have very LITTLE concern for.
    Also–The current TAD takes on 85% of the city’s TAD limit, so there is really very little more a “next” TAD can do. Also, using a city’s complete TAD limit is unprecedented in the state. The City of Atlanta barely got over 2% with its entire inventory.

  4. 4

    Dora The Explorer

    Uhhh, why? You’d rather we stay with the status quo for the next 20 years?

  5. 5

    Redevelopment Powers 101

    DTE,

    You are allowing the city to hand pick (political favor) a real estate developer to build a town square that currently doesn’t exist. The developer no longer has to pay bank interest for a portion normally funded by a bank. That portion of funding will now come from a bond the City of Doraville will issue. The developer gets to forego paying property taxes until the bond is paid off…probably 20 years…or until they sell it in probably 4 years. Hopefully, for at least the cost of the bond, but probably not.

    In return, NO taxes are generated to fund the UNFUNDED infrastructure improvements. That comes from your General Fund that receives between $3-$4m per year. If the bond payment is ever missed, it will come from this very paltry resource otherwise known as the City of Doraville coffers. If the GM development falters AT ALL, Doraville is toast.

    Watch and see how big that bond is? See how much influence the City of Doraville taxpayers have over the development? Any less than being barred from a Development Authority meeting is icing on the cake.

  6. 6

    Eric Robert

    Would be great if they didn’t need the plan because installing that street infrastructure and requiring that type of development would be a far better use of what is not largely a huge waste of space – little to no existing housing – no significant vegetation/trees – just a bunch of ugly buildings, parking lots and a ball field and pool.

    The examples used in the power point are good with the exception of Suwanee – that Suwanee development looks Truman Showesq or the fake town from Blazing Saddles (a giant movie sound stage complete with fake facades to hide the gignormous surface parking lots.

  7. 7

    RAJ

    Great to see Doraville planning for it’s future! That said, be careful what you wish for with redevelopment powers. The financing of this project is 100% dependent upon TAD financing; approval of which in dependent upon DeKalb County participation, which is dependent upon School Board participation,which is dependent upon someone wanting to build taxable structures on this property…. in a declining economy. That’s easy enough!, Now comes the hard part; the County tax assessor Calvin Hicks appraised the Assembly(GM) portion of the TAD(three parcels)at 50M, the developer Doraville Sixty LLC thinks it’s worth 21.8M after it sold the buildings and kept 13M for the scrap value. The developer appealed the appraisal and the County sued in DeKalb Superior Court…I don’t have the case # yet. Calvin sent the TAD approval in to the State with a tax digest of 40M thinking, I suppose, that was fair to the County and the Developer. It is highly questionable that anyone dealing in TAD bonds would underwrite an issuance with the appraisal basis of the TAD in litigation. Calvin provided the developer with the appropriate case law and stated that these cases sometimes take two to two and a half years to resolve.

  8. 8

    Riley O\'Connor

    More eye-candy drawings of an idealized world produced to soothe the wallets of the taxpayers. With the exception of the Atlanta Rhythm Section song, Doraville has been just another industry-specific town that is close to death because of changes in business models. If there wasn’t a nearby Interstate that throws off speeding ticket revenue, Doraville would be just another ghost town. That’s a shame because there actually are neighborhoods with homes and families and all that. When so much is made about “affordable housing”, Doraville gets ignored.

    The GM plant site is the big roll of the dice, and you have to wonder why all the TAD machinations when they have a golden site all to themselves, just waiting for free-market capital. A large parcel of land with a MARTA station, a potential AMTRAK station, a major interstate adjacent. Of course, why take the risk when you can have the taxpayers go on the hook?

    As far as a “downtown” Doraville, there never really has been such, just a collection of structures that included a union hall and an ice house that sold to people on their way to Lake Lanier. Now, at this late venue, they want to give it a homey feel. Good luck, but considering the existing tax base in Doraville, just how good a risk is this?

    Makes you wonder what they would have done if the City of Doraville had received royalties for all those plays of the Atlanta Rhythm Section.

  9. 9

    america needs trump!

    Get real people! This is a ‘pipe dream’, an unrealistic hope or fantasy.

  10. 10

    Riley OConnor

    Well, it does beg the question of “If Doraville cannot sustain itself, what do you do?” The previous commercial annexation (HB1138) was supposed to shore up City finances. I’m guessing that the jury is still out about the success of that move, but it does point to the fact that Doraville is playing from a position of weakness.

    The GM site is a big hail mary, not only for Doraville but for DeKalb County and the Atlanta region in general. To use an ancient term, it is too big to fail. If the GM site does succeed, it effectively moves the economic center of Doraville westward from the current city center. Which will have an economic effect upon property values in the current City center. Thus the “afterthought” feel of Historic Downtown Doraville.

    In these modern times, there are any number of public relations experts who merrily spin their little fantasies out in soothing words, but the term “Historic Downtown Doraville” has a Disney-ish feel to it. With stone buildings made of Styrofoam and a newly written history that has settlers coming to the area in mule pulled wagons and proclaiming: “By God, we will build an auto plant here.”

    I don’t blame Doraville for trying to do better, and they have some real tangible assets, but this isn’t one of them. Perhaps one of the most awkward things in this world is watching someone trying to be something that they’re not.

  11. 11

    Eddie E.

    If some plague were to wipe out much of our current population but allow us to recover in the future, I wonder what future archaeologists would think.
    Would they wonder why, out of the blue, there was apparently such a massive need for cookie cutter 3 to 5 story ‘mixed use’ mishmashes?

  12. 12

    Save Tucker!

    Thank you to DeKalb School Superintendent Green who wisely turned down a chance to be a part of the Doraville investment. We can’t risk the future of our children on a real estate “get rich quick” scheme.

  13. 13

    enuff govt already

    Beside the average citizen, the politicians of Dunwoody, Chamblee, Tucker and Norcross need to be screamining “no” on this project. A failure here would damage their neighborhoods. No one has produced one document to show the “need” based of population and not one person is asking their real estate agent for a condo overlooking I285 & I85 with easy access to brownfield playgrounds. Built it and hope they’ll come is not a solid business plan and the public’s money shouldn’t be used for this. Taxes are for the functions of govt not the development dreams of politicians!

  14. 14

    ART

    really?
    They think they will transform little ol’ Doraville into Champaign IL, Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward, or even Suwanee?

    I’m sure the Mayor would like a new corner office in a city hall like the one in Schenectady. Maybe with a view of a rotunda and a courtyard, too? (Please don’t give our Brookhaven leaders any of your grandiose ideas!)

    Not one one company has even come forward yet to partner with the GM site developers. I wonder why? Maybe they don’t want to finance the this downtown debacle.

    Doraville should have negotiated for the TAD before they started these plans.

    Well, at least they have another set of pretty renderings to add to their collection.

  15. 15

    Big Time No Time

    Thank you!
    “Taxes are for the functions of govt not the development dreams of politicians!”
    This trend has gotten so ridiculous to the point I wonder what is really going on, and I can’t believe it’s legal.

  16. 16

    scarystatereps

    “Too big to fail” is a good analogy.

    The GM project is backstopped by state of Georgia in any number of ways. State reps simply want the county taxpayers to bear the first risk. However, the GM project WILL BE BACKED one way or the other–even if the early bonds for the entire TAD can’t get paid for without dipping into general funds.

    Dunwoody state reps are taking their first shot at this by pressuring the school system to complete the TAD.
    (1) They strike fear by saying “here’s your chance to reverse all past economic development ills and beef up the taxbase”, but neglect to mention what Green said–THERE WILL BE NO Benefit the county coffers (except new business fees) for 30 years!
    (2) They are preparing a bill to coerce school system approval by reducing school system millage to 20–its five mills less than current taxpayer contributions. If school system declines TAD, the general assembly will hammer it. If they approve the TAD, the bill magically isn’t “needed” anymore. It’s criminal to politicize the kids this way.

    Just say “no” Dr. Greene and allow public outcry over the criminal legislation take over. Then FORCE the state government to the next level of putting its own money where its coersion is–FIRST.

  17. 17

    tom doolittle

    Again, you have to separate the desire for GM project from the completely inappropriate inclusion of “building Doraville” downtown. There is literally no precedent for funding an unknown set of projects in an existing downtown area within the same TAD with an established revitalization project (one piece of land). This would have been like the City of Atlanta coming across 17th Street and developing parts of MidTown and calling it the Atlantci Stateion TAD.

    DeKalb taxpayers CANNOT develop Doraville! There needs to be an “Assembly” TAD. Start this farce over once the school system goes away.
    If this Downtown Doraville (or any part of it) is funded with this TAD, South DeKalb commissioners and school board members will talk Stone Mountain and Lithonia officials into lobbying for same treatment on an “equity” argument.

    If Doraville wants to “do” its Downtown–it’s on them.

  18. 19

    Sam

    South DeKalb got the Old Fourth Ward and Ponce City Market aka Beltline failure. It’s even. Talk about Faustian bargains?!

  19. 20

    fyi

    Huh? O4W, PCM, and the Beltline are all comfortably ensconced in the city of Atlanta and Fulton County.

  20. 21

    Redevelopment Powers 101

    http://www.11alive.com/story/news/local/investigations/2016/02/08/investigators-arrested-development/79962904/

    The attached story is a blip compared to the investigative stories coming to Doraville in 3, 2, 1…

  21. 23

    Tom Doolittle

    There are elements about the Stockbridge and Morrow story that provide cautionary tales. Likely proponents of an publicly funded projects in Doraville will point to two main differences: (1) the market for the Top End has is better or has been better than any area below I-20 with the exception of the airport; (2) the finance vehicle of choice (announced thus far anyway) appears to be a TAD (so theoretically payback is on developers). The current TAD making up 85% of the city’s TAD limit is the only finance instrument announced to date related to the Downtown area, so who knows whether there are General Obligation bonds envisioned. (3) Unlike Stockbridge and Morrow, there is no development activity to provide due diligence on–the Downtown is a vision in infancy…maybe there will be due diligence, maybe not. That which should be available for public inspection on the one development project in the TAD thus far, Assembly, is an unknown–but other sources say the lending is tenuous.

    What IS disturbing (for county taxpayers like me for any TAD involvement, TADs are large because of county agency participation) is the emphasis on paying for moving (and creating NEW) government buildings–for the city with no discernable benefit for the county. Likely these will happen before any private projects–and it will be labeled “infrastructure”, thereby eligible for TAD funds.

    There are nuances that allow public officials to sell whatever they want. Doraville needs to provide a list of city center projects that have been done with TADs. I’m aware of small downtown development plans that promote PRIVATE development with street improvements, but no government centers that use TADs, with an insistence on calling government buildings “infrastructure”. I admit I may be wrong. (Sandy Springs is a public private project and the “public” part are general obligation bonds and of limited scope compared to building three, likely larger buildings in Doraville).

    BTW–Sandy Springs has had no Development Powers referendum (ability for TADs), likely because it would not pass–just as Brookhaven didn’t….both cities with substantially more capability and an attentive public.

  22. 24

    Tom Doolittle

    Also, w/r due diligence, the referenced media examples are apt–in fact Doraville has no due diligence mechanism w/r checks and balances. Certainly, there needs to be a citizen watchdog group reporting on authority actions that has the ear of the city council. They would simply investigate conflicts of interest for the public and provide a list of activities that would warrant INDEPENDENT due diligence by city council–the body with fiduciary duty. An investigation like Stockbrisge’s AFTER THE FACT is not sufficient and smells of CYA.

    All of this is a problem with a little city that is attempting to wear big boy pants with public money (money that is 10 times the amount in Stockbridge and per capita 10 times that of most cities in the US. It’s baffling how this has come to pass.

    Rookies on authorities not understanding conflicts of interest, a city admin creating no checks and balances checks and city council not trained on its primary mission–fiduciary. No civic organization stepping up to the plate to oversee proliferating finance authorities.

    Two finance authorties have been formed within the past five years–none have had any bond experience and the first pile of money proposed totals $247 million? Even with the first bonds “only” planned to be $40 million or so, the package is more than the average (mid 30s) TAD bond across the US.

    Mind-boggling race–Nexus, another project with a so-called Synthetic TAD already approved is being reviewed for its “TAD” to be expanded to include a gas station property. Presumably, these are OK because they use revenue bonds.
    TADs, revenue bonds have “no risk”? Just because there have been no General Obligation bonds (backed by the general fund) does NOT mean there is no risk. Gambling pure and simple.

    Much of my comments here and elsewhere simply comes from a different “world view” of development incentives–the manner in which there use has expanded in a new century which has proven to have a completely new economic calculus. In fact government borrowing is as much responsible for “bubbles” as anything else.

    The reality: Economic development officials have NO incentive to take this world view, but citizens and elected officials’ attitudes and attentions are changing to being much more skeptical.

  23. 25

    Toff

    I would rather Doraville request to be annexed to Chamblee than LVH. Doralee or Chambleville anyone?

  24. 26

    Emilia

    You read my mind, Toff. For all its warts, Doraville knows we exist. And we know they exist.

    I’d rather bring in cash-strapped but energetic Doraville, with its immigrant entrepreneurs who work their arses off and solve problems without looking to someone else to take care of them (orange bus anyone?), than a bunch of entitled folks who seem to think all that matters is someone deliver their precious services to them even though it’s not the other group’s job to do so and apparently this can happen by magic. We’re just peons and our democracy don’t matter — Give Us Our Services Because We Want Services!

    WE WANTS OUR VOTE THIS FALL!, and we don’t care if Chamblee gets no say of its own, because SERVICES!

    An easy bit of backroom dealing between our Chamblee mayor and his “friend” over in LVH is soooo much easier than having to do the (admittedly) heavy lifting of working their arses off to improve their own government.

    Which they don’t seem to even realize that we also have to deal with. lol we don’t have a water department, people.

    And of course, they believe the lie that their taxes won’t go up.

    Laughable.

  25. 27

    Emilia

    On the other hand, Carey Reynolds Elementary is beyond bursting at the seams. I think the school was built for what, 500 students max? They have 1300 students.

    I know there are many schools around here with trailers, but there are more students in trailers than actual classrooms.

    Something needs to rectify the problem.

  26. 28

    Emilia

    I can see why Doraville would benefit from a downtown area, but I really do question how many of these Town Brookhaven-like things we can build before we’ve overbuilt and can’t fill them.

    Doraville is not where you move if you’re awash with money. To fill upscale buildings would require making them affordable in some way or regentrifying (a.k.a. moving the brown folks out).

    I don’t see any indication this housing will be affordable, and if this area is gentrified it will pretty much ruin what makes Doraville interesting.

    I also question the more general trend all over north DeKalb and some other areas of making these wild assumptions about what Millenials want.

    I wish someone would take a moment to reflect on the idea that Millenials are more diverse than the stereotype you see in media, and if there’s one common factor about them, it’s they can’t get a job that is full time and pays worth a damn. And no, anyone who graduates Valedictorian from Oglethorpe is not lazy, so nevermind going there. How are they going to buy into all these developments?

    Our son’s friends who graduated college a few years back are barely working above minimum wage, finally. They’re crammed several into a tiny apartment and have nothing left to save. They have college debt to pay. Some can’t even afford to marry and set up a separate household. That’s at 27 years old.

    If they can’t afford this, I don’t know where all those other rich Millenials are that are going to move into all these places.

    Back to Doraville specifically, this plan requires tearing down existing city buildings and moving them. I know City Hall is bursting at the seams and needs more space, but that’s a very pricey thing considering Doraville’s financial state.

  27. 29

    Flubber

    I don’t think Doraville brings much to the table for annexation consideration.

  28. 30

    Jennifer

    It is crazy, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is only one developer and one set of mixed use plans… everything looks the same…. UGLY

  29. 31

    Gmoney

    Doraville has the right to grow and segregate like the rest of DeKalb. All you need to do is look at the school districting to see how racist the Democratic leadership that is called DeKalb. Buford highway is the river of Brown that separates the black sea from the white sea.

    The funny thing is that Doraville is probably the most stable city in the metro. Why you ask? The consistent tax revenue it receives from the petroleum hub. Regardless of the economy the mindless public will not stop driving their cars nor will the QT’s of the world stop filling their tanks.

    I support Doraville in whatever they want to achieve because they will be able to financially survive long term.

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