“I think it’s just the whole package,” said Dan Reuter, the commission’s land use chief. “Decatur has parks. It has a MARTA station downtown. [It offers] a lot of different kinds of housing, bicycle routes [and] a lot of festivals.”
Mayor Bill Floyd said the city was thrilled to be chosen for the award out of all the great places in metro Atlanta.
“Downtown Decatur is great for residents and visitors, because it is so walkable and there is always something going on,” Floyd said in a statement.
Reuter said the jury that selected the award winner — a group which included area architects and planners — recognized Decatur as being a modern downtown community where residents and visitors have plenty of options.
“The city of Decatur puts a lot of effort into creating a strong sense of community,” said Lyn Menne, assistant city manager for community and economic development.
She said the city promotes community outreach and encourages citizen involvement. The quality of the schools and the city’s thriving commercial district are also positive aspects of Decatur.
“We have a large collection of locally owned retail and restaurant businesses,” Menne said. “It’s a unique place. It’s one of a kind. You’re not going to come here and find all of the types of chain restaurants and retail that you could find anywhere.”
This year was only the second time the commission and coalition gave out the “Great Places” award as part of their Developments of Excellence ceremony held Oct. 12 during the commission’s annual State of the Region breakfast.
“For [more than] 10 years, we [gave out] Developments of Excellence awards and that mainly focused on private developments,” Reuter said. “Usually they were newer projects that had been built in or around metro Atlanta.”
He added the commission decided it wanted to recognize communities, streets and neighborhoods, which were not new developments but that had unique characteristics that made them special places.
Last year, the jury selected the Arabia National Heritage Area in eastern DeKalb County for the inaugural “Great Places” award. The jury chose Decatur this year because of all the city has done in the last 12 to 15 years to make it a great place to live and visit, Reuter said.