Decatur Next

Decatur Diary | November 24, 2010

Design and Development:
We Like What We Like

Over the course of both the round tables and the Community Academy sessions, a consistent theme has emerged: Higher density development can be a potentially valuable tool towards many of our emerging goals (greater housing affordability, greater choice in housing types, reallocation of tax base, and a thriving commercial core among them), but only if it is reserved for our core growth areas, and designed and built in specific ways.

That was the key outcome of the final Community Academy session, held November 17 at the Holiday Inn Conference Center. Speaker Caleb Racicot of the Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh & Associates team led a committed audience of about 50 residents–some new to the effort, others active participants since our launch last spring–through some baseline development realities. Chief among them the fact that, within the core growth areas of downtown, Avondale Marta LCI, Oakhurst Village and the East Lake Marta area, Decatur has roughly 165 acres of underdeveloped property. That is, 165 acres where there is a difference, often a significant difference, between what is currently built and what is legally allowed via the property’s zoning.

For Caleb’s full presentation, click here. (4.6mb .pdf)

Participants ponder the preference exercise.

There was essentially no disagreement to the idea that it’s in our collective best interests to influence how those properties might build out or be utilized over time. First, in drawing businesses and developers that are a good “fit” for Decatur; second, in setting some design criteria to ensure new development is compatible, even complementary, to its surroundings. So, the collaborative portion of the evening was used to discuss ideas for how we might take that on.

For the complete summary of table discussions and public comments, click here. (4.5mb .pdf)

In exploring what types and styles of development were most desirable to residents, the team created two boards, one featuring higher-density mixed use projects, the other featuring higher-density multifamily projects. Each participant was given a green dot (indicating most preferred) and a red dot (indicating least preferred) for each board.

So, what does Decatur like a lot and not so much? The answers were quite surprising. See for yourself:

Mixed-Use preferences. Click for larger view.

Mixed-Use preferences. Click for larger view.

Multifamily preferences. Click for larger view.

Multifamily preferences. Click for larger view.

Next up for Decatur Next is December 4th’s Community Workshop. Stay tuned for more details. In the meantime, leave your comments and questions below.

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