The station, at 915 E. Ponce de Leon Ave. in Decatur, will be developed in three phases that include affordable rental components for senior citizens, neighborhood commercial use and condominiums.
Although the public input process will be in the upcoming summer months to finalize design issues, Assistant City Manager Lyn Menne said ideas to change the area go as far back as 2000.
“This area of Decatur has historically been our industrial district with a large number of warehouses and it was identified in our 2000 Strategic Plan as an area that was ripe for change,” Menne said.
“We wanted to control that change and we received a Livable Centers Initiative Grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission to develop a master plan for the district in 2003.”
After conducting a month-long planning process with public input, a concept was developed that would govern the growth of the district over the next decade, she said.
“It was envisioned as a new neighborhood area with multi-family developments including apartments and condominiums, as well as neighborhood retail and creative business district,” Menne said.
Although the Avondale Station parking lot was identified as a “catalyst property” of the plan and was to include a mixture of rental and for sale units, Menne said the complex project, which required working through extensive reviews and approvals with MARTA officials, was eventually scrapped when approval delays resulted in financial overruns and the recent economic downturn made funding the project impossible.
However, the area around the transit station is once again set for serious development because of MARTA’s new leadership and projects, Menne said.
“MARTA has new leadership that is pushing transit-oriented development projects around MARTA stations to increase ridership and make these stations more inviting and connected with the surrounding community,” she said.
“The Decatur Development Authority reached out to MARTA and requested that we be allowed to take the lead on this project to assure that it fit with our long-range plans.”
This time around, Menne said, MARTA worked with the city on a competitive bid process to select a private sector development partner with the understanding that the city will continue to take the lead as the project moves forward.
“The Avondale transit station is an important gateway to our city and we want to improve the appearance of the College Avenue corridor, return this property back to the city’s tax rolls and provide a broader range of housing options in our city to appeal to older and younger residents,” she said.
Going along with Decatur’s reputation as a walkable city, Menne said this development would include streetscape improvements that will link this project to the Talley Street loft condominium project located several blocks south of the Avondale transit station development site.
“Key pedestrian and cycling connections will be included that can be extended through the district as other developments take place in future years,” she said.