One of Doraville’s greatest assets is the location of its downtown. It has its own MARTA stop, and is easily accessible from both Buford Highway and I-285. Not only that, but the city owns more than 10 acres of land in this area that is mainly a blank slate: filled with parking lots and partially or completely unused buildings.
This map below shows the area commonly considered “Downtown Doraville.” Areas highlighted in yellow show the land owned by the city You can see that most of it is parking lot. Even some of the buildings that are in this zone hold only a couple of people or are not used at all.
Because the city owns this valuable land next to a MARTA station, there should be fewer barriers to getting a project started if the city was willing to consider it. If we do it right, what gets built here should also be more accessible for current Doraville residents than anything that will be built over at the former GM plant. Finally, the success of our downtown will serve as a catalyst for other projects along Buford Highway. It could be the first step in filling up the empty buildings and shopping centers that have sat vacant for years. Given the low risk and high reward, the city should have gotten started on its downtown redevelopment a long time ago – we definitely can’t afford to wait another 4 or 8 years.
As to what should go downtown – personally, I prefer an incremental approach to development rather than trying to develop some huge civic master plan all at once. I think that working with developers on smaller projects on a parcel by parcel basis would probably garner more successes and be easier to get moving more quickly. I also think that – at least as a temporary measure – the city government should consider relocating to one of the underutilized office buildings along Buford Highway (maybe until a new civic building can be built). That said, it should be up to the council to decide what the final approach will be. I just think that decision to move forward on something needs to be made sooner rather than later. That’s why as your next mayor, the redevelopment of downtown will be one of the first things I bring to our council to start working on.