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23 Comments

  1. 1

    Thomas Porter

    You had me until Buford Highway redevelopment. I love that road, seedy and pithy the way it is now.

  2. 2

    ellen

    You had me at “lower tax rate”.

  3. 3

    Easy Rider

    City property tax rates are miniscule compared to what DeKalb county collects. Perhaps it makes sense to encourage commercial development along the areas you describe. However, if you really want to lower residential property taxes we need to get more involved with DeKalb county government. Good luck to us.

  4. 4

    PCG Realtor

    How do tax abatements lasting 20 years like Whole Foods, Town Brookhaven, CHOA, Hawks Players Facility, Chamblee TOD, etc, increase commercial tax revenues?

    Is there any real-estate banking risks taken when Phantom Bonds are issued, or commercial real estate loans are issued in the form of revenue bonds for the sake of ‘redevelopment’?

    Will the Whole Foods tax abatement structure change now that the Memorandum of Understanding states the development can only be used for Whole Foods, which is now Amazon? Will Amazon eliminate the building, or sublease the half of the anchor tenant space they don’t need?

  5. 5

    Toff

    Politicking 101, tell people you are going to lower their taxes to get elected. I agree with making Chamblee more business friendly, it suffers from a reputation of being hard to do business with in terms of getting permits, buildings up to code etc. Hope that is changing.

  6. 6

    RJ3

    Imagine how much lower our tax rates could be if there wasn’t an unaccountable group giving away millions in tax dollars for the purpose of building new apartment complexes. Imagine if the developments adding thousands of cars to our roads actually had to pay for needed improvements to those roads. Imagine if housing complexes adding kids to overcrowded schools actually had to pay taxes to fund those schools.

    Van, will you at least pledge not to take a single penny in assistance from the developers you gave so much to?

  7. 7

    NTH

    So how do you plan on explaining lowering residents taxes when you give away all of our taxes to developers in the way of tax abatements? Not too hypocritical at all. SMH

  8. 8

    pat

    “Create a Business Friendly environment.” Specifics?

    “•Focus on the undervalued commercial properties. ” How? Specifics?

  9. 9

    Saul

    LOL! Eminent domain! Then sell to a worthy developer! That’s what Brookhaven would do!

  10. 10

    Jack Smith

    Converting zoned commercial to zoned multifamily residential and then giving multi-year tax breaks by the DDA does not line up with this heart of this article. Two examples are Olmstead which sits on former commercial site and the adjacent development at the former Nissan site commercial. Both received generous tax abatements and both are on former commercial sites.

  11. 11

    Van Pappas

    @Pat. Good Question.
    On creating a business friendly environment, we have to look at 2 aspects. One, is the Code too restrictive. I would say no. While there might be some minor tweeks that could be made to parts of the code, I believe it is important to maintain high standards. The second is to look at the process. How easy is it to do business in our city. I will applaud our City Clerk, I have seen the Clerk’s office get better each year. Moving more processes online for the Clerk’s office would be an additional change we could make to take the paperwork burden off the business. The City could create more unity between the various City associations (Chamber, Merchants Group, Antique Dealers). This could go along way to changing the image. Finally our elected officials and our City Department heads should do the little things that make us an inviting place to come. Welcome letters and Opening day drop ins are great ways to tell the business owner we care. We should also start a Chamblee 101 – Business Edition class (basically like the Chamblee 101 we do for citizens, but focused on business processing).

    On improving our commercial properties. Earlier this year the City had an Economic Development study done. I like studies, but I love implementation even more. We should set up an Economic Roundtable Committee. This would be like the Recreational Advisor Committee for Parks, or the Architectural Review Committee for the Development Dept. It would have professional citizens, like Bankers, Lawyers, Developers and Real Estate experts. The Committee would invite the property owners identified in the study to sit down at the table and discuss what challenges the owner has and why the property is not being improved. The committee would look for Win-Win solutions to help both the owner and the community.

    While there are other things we can do in these areas, I hope the above gives you a feel for what I’m talking about. I’m all ears for any other ideas you have to improve our community.

  12. 12

    Van Pappas

    @Jack.
    I appreciate your comments and welcome the opportunity to do a little educating.

    Please note that the areas mentioned in the article are outside of the Chamblee Downtown corridor. The City does have a Downtown Authority that can give abatements, but the City does not have the ability to give abatements outside of the designated Downtown. Improving vacant lots, like the corner of Chamblee-Tucker/Buford Hwy or Chamblee-Dunwoody/Buford Hwy or the slab where the burned down Bombay Grill on Savoy, will absolutely generate more revenue for the City. There were some comments on Nextdoor on this same topic and I posted this video to answer their questions. It might answer some of your questions: https://youtu.be/v8Ng98SlBxM

    As far as far as your comment on the Olmsted and Nissan. The actions the DDA took did not reduce what the City was bringing in. The Nissan deal is required to continue to pay the same taxes to the City, and with the additional business on the site, the City will actually collect more than if it stayed a Car Dealership. Follow the numbers and I think you will see that what is going on in the Downtown corridor is a positive, not a negative. You can see the numbers for all the deals at: https://brookhavenpost.co/2017/04/03/letter-chamblee-downtown-development-authority-101/

  13. 13

    Eddie E.

    Having had a thriving business in Chamblee for over 30 years, I don’t know what needs to be more ‘friendly’…..
    Oh yeah, it might make sense to not put high density residential into areas that have been ‘industrial’ or ‘commercial’ for over 50 years.

  14. 14

    NTH

    I agree double E. I have found chamblee to be very business friendly. And they have done a good job of maintaining commercial on the first floor of all the areas you reference as having always been commercial. Now if Van and his cronies would stop giving away our tax dollars we might actually see a tax benefit from all of this progress. Just saying

  15. 15

    Jack Smith

    Thanks for the comments and clarifications. I would just add the abatements for the multifamily housing projects disproportionately affects dekalb schools rather than the city revenues. It is just a mistake in my opinion to incentivize high impact multifamily while both reducing future county school revenues via rezoning from commercial to residential as well as adding addition students to an already over crowded system. Even though the units are mostly designed for singles, children will be residents of some of the units. Dekalb spends almost 9,000 per student per year and there is simple no additional capacity at all grade levels..

    http://www.ajc.com/news/local-education/dekalb-county-spends-less-per-student-than-most-atlanta-districts/bhnztfLmtHgqyY4tOdIPgK/

  16. 16

    Chambleere

    Jack – The City and the DDA use the arrows we have in our quiver to spur economic growth in our city. Each project was different and each abatement was to solve a financial problem that helped lure development to the area. The overall idea is that you provide incentives to generate growth so that you don’t have to provide incentives anymore. Some folks will always disagree with tax incentives and that is certainly their right.

    For every project that received some sort of assistance from the DDA, there are two others that did not (Parkview on Peachtree, The Malone, Blue Top, Rust N Dust, Hopstix, Mercy Care, Whaley Lofts, Chase Bank, Parkside Chamblee, etc… . We can all speculate about how long this development cycle will last but I can assure you that Chamblee would not be experiencing the growth that we are seeing now had the DDA not been involved.

    Folks on here might ask themselves – “Well how does this ChambleeRE guy know anything, he is just some guy in internet land making internet comments”. Yeah, but I’ve worked for companies like Jamestown Properties, I am a member of the Urban Land Institute and I make my living on knowing what is going on in the market. I serve on the DDA and I am a member of this community that only wants to see us succeed as a City.

    I can’t predict the future but we are taking our best educated guess on making this an even better place to live and it is paying off big time (a lot of credit to the Council and folks on the Board before I joined).

    Downtown Chamblee has been devoid of activity for as long as I have been a GA resident (30+ years). Just last weekend, Ludacris was having dinner at Hopstix. The Rock wrapped filming on Rampage at Third Rail. Pretty freaking cool if you ask me. You can now catch folks walking up and down the street to dinner and hanging out at our local bars. The line for Taqueria Del Sol was out the door last Saturday and it was pouring down rain.

    Feel free to come to a meeting or give me a shout if you ever want to talk in more detail. We would all be happy to share our vision and get feedback on how we can do things better.

    Rob Smith
    ChambleeRE@gmail.com

    As for apartments specifically, see below. You have to have bodies to support the retail and entertainment.

    https://www.weareapartments.org/data/district/georgia-6th

  17. 17

    Jack Smith

    You are entitled to your very long winded and preachy opinion it even if it is deeply flawed.

  18. 18

    Eddie E.

    Agreed. If the project has merit, let the ‘market’ fund it.

  19. 19

    Enuff Govt Already

    Something I noticed, “our best guess” and “Pretty freaking cool if you ask me. You can now catch folks walking up and down the street to dinner and hanging out at our local bars”. A best guess on tax abatements,et al; wow! And just why is it pretty freaking cool to see people walking up and down the street and hanging out at local bars on the west side of the MARTA tracks but considered an eyesore or a problem when seen east of the MARTA tracks? Why no abatements for businesses or developments over there? Everything done by the DDA looks to aid one group of citizens over another group of citizens. Abatements for multimillion dollar companies to invest in the wealthiest areas of a town is the opposite of why the idea of abatements were orginally created. Govt or quasi-govt entities should not be manipulators of a market.

  20. 20

    Ellen

    Who said they were an eyesore on the east side? You are reading something into his statements that wasn’t there.

  21. 21

    Eddie E.

    Only problem is how many JOBS can they stuff into the first floor and how many of those will pay the mortgage?

  22. 22

    Van Pappas

    @Enuff,
    Mayor and Council designated the geographical area of Downtown as the area between the two Peachtrees. The DDA does not have the authority to help outside of that area. Other than a small area where International Village was suppose to be, the east side of the MARTA is not in the map.

  23. 23

    Eddie E.

    Any chance of shrinking that further?

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