Doraville, GA, March 13, 2017 – by Renee Turner for The Post – Incorporated in 1871, the City of Doraville is one of the area’s oldest cities. Shawn Gillen, City Manager of Doraville, said 2021 will be the city’s “sesquicentennial year” creating a gateway into the historic city. The city is experiencing a type of renaissance by redeveloping a large partition of the city’s landscape. An extensive comprehensive plan and a strategic marketing campaign has also been developed that includes heavy community involvement under the tagline Design Doraville. “Design Doraville is the moniker given to the comprehensive plan (CP) update process,” he said.
There is a mixture of new development that includes mixed-use, residential housing, and commercial establishments being built throughout the city including the Assembly (the former General Motors Plant) by developers Integral Group and Macauley Investments, and Nexus by Macauley Investments, that helped create a kind of rebirth happening, and bringing with them jobs, new roadways, and other interested developers.
One important aspect of Design Doraville, is the redevelopment of the governmental facilities that are presently in close proximity to each other, but scattered and disconnected on several sites. In the City of Doraville Comprehensive Plan 2017-2037, adopted October 17, 2016, which focuses on “connecting businesses, preserving neighborhoods, improving education, creating a mobility network, diversity and even building a brand”, the plan is a culmination of a collaborative effort between Doraville residents, businesses owners, workers, city staff and officials, and other stakeholders,
Building on the 2005-2026 comprehensive plan, the Design Doraville CP’s vision for future development of the city’s character areas include:
- Expansion of the Doraville Town Center (the city’s central hub, established with a unique sense of place) to include properties on the opposite side of Peachtree Road, incorporating parcels currently used for MARTA rail and parking.
- Consolidation of the Tank Farms District (heavy industrial district with an emphasis on safety) to the north side of the railroad tracks should an opportunity arise to revisit the tank infrastructure in this area. In doing so, additional opportunities would arise within the Buford Highway Cultural Corridor (mixed-use corridor preserving the diversity of businesses) for redevelopment.
- Distinguishing a set of Office Hubs (integrated centers of office uses and business incubators) that would create a more flexible regulatory context for introduction of office and creative industrial uses.
- Incorporation of multi-family residential as sub-areas within the Neighborhood Preservation District (protection of existing residential character) rather than as a stand-alone character area.
- Other types of character growth distinctions may include: PIB Marketplace, mixed-use neighborhood activity nodes; Assembly District, high-density mixed use district; Light Industrial District, commercial uses that leverage connections to regional transportation; and, Annexation, areas outside the city limits appropriate for future incorporation into the city.
Doraville aims create a town center with a “walkable, urban downtown with a sense of place” as defined in the 2010 Downtown Doraville Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) study. Recommendations from that study were recently crystalized into the Historic Downtown Doraville Redevelopment Masterplan which was approved by the Mayor and City Council in the first quarter of 2016, according to the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) issued in mid 2016 for designing the city hall campus.
Presently, the buildings that house city government, the police department, the courthouse operations, and library – while near each other – are not connected by a walkable network, nor does the current arrangement feel like a “town center” per se. Doraville wants to change that by consolidating these facilities into one parcel to include city hall, a civic center, the police station, courthouse, library, and structured parking.
“Although the Doraville Library is part of the DeKalb system the building belongs to the City of Doraville and will be a part of the new facility,” says Gillen. And, though the new site sits on a slope, the topography is being incorporated into the design.
The proposed site will be located across from the Doraville MARTA Station, bounded by New Peachtree Road, Stewart Road, Buford Highway, and Flowers Park, and encompass Park and Central Avenues. There will also be the creation of new street as part of the city hall campus. The design will also include several mixed-use buildings from six to eight stories made up of residential, office and retail usage. It is proposed that Flowers Park would be extended into a civic lawn with a landscaped detention pond, aquatic center, pavilion gazebo, playground(s), and public gathering space. The civic lawn would also have an amphitheater.
The new city hall complex has elements of the Historic Downtown Doraville that are to be included in the “Gateway Redevelopment” which includes: (1) providing architecturally significant buildings (2) installation of streets that are pedestrian and bicycle friendly (3) ground floor retail space (4) tree-lined streetscapes and street parking (5) a central green space gathering place (6) selling city land for further development to offset the cost and raise revenue. The appeal is to also attract transit-oriented development due to access to downtown through MARTA.
The design phase is set to begin soon by the Clark Patterson Lee design team – the firm that created the conceptual plan and who was recently awarded the project to provide planning, architectural and engineering services for the civic campus.
“We have received positive public feedback during the process of approving the downtown redevelopment concept,” Gillen explained. “There will be more opportunities for public input as we move through the design phase.”
Gillen said there is no exact timeline for completion of the design phase, which will be determined as funding becomes available.
The sesquicentennial year of 2021 for the City of Doraville is also the year of the goal for completion of the new governmental campus. The anticipated construction cost for the project is $30 million.
Projected Civic Campus
|Building||Use||Square footage||Number of stories|
13,000 – 20,000
17,000 – 25,000
|C||Library||5,000 – 10,000||One (1)|
|D||Structured parking||< 200 spaces||Two or greater (2+)|
|Note: Table from the Doraville Civic Campus Redevelopment RFQ|