Florida developer to buy GM site in Doraville

New Broad Street Cos. said it has been in discussions with GM for more than 18 months.

"It could be any mix of uses," New Broad Street spokeswoman Barbara Koenig said Thursday. "Any mix of commercial, retail, residential."

The deal is expected to close in early summer. The purchase price will not be disclosed, Koenig said.

"This is the best urban infill site in the country for a large transit-oriented development," New Broad Street president David Pace said in a statement.  "It will be clean and green, incorporating environmental remediation of the former industrial site with best practices for sustainable development."

The  Doraville plant closed in September 2008 and several developers bid to buy the massive 165-acre site.

New Broad Street told the AJC in December that it wants to transform the former factory into an “urban center” with homes, eateries, businesses and offices. That would fit into Doraville’s plans for the site, which is bordered by MARTA rail and I-285. The city has said it wants a mixed-use development -- without a long-rumored stadium, possibly for the Atlanta Falcons.

Doraville Mayor Ray Jenkins is likely to emphasize that point Friday. He declined to comment, through a spokesman, on Thursday night until he could again talk with developers and other players, most notably those from DeKalb County.

Doraville leaders  have feared the county would wrest control of the redevelopment, leaving the city of 10,000 people with little say on the  property that dominates both the landscape and conversation. One council member, Bob Roche, has been trying to get the City Council to hire a development director since November to make sure the small city is not pushed out.

“New Broad is a quality developer and deserves high-caliber, quality service from Doraville,” Roche said Thursday evening.  “I call upon the mayor and city council to begin an immediate search for an experienced, highly qualified city development director to represent Doraville and prepare the city for the opportunities and challenges ahead.”

DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis was in meetings Thursday evening and could not be reached for comment.

New Broad Street has had experience in converting “brownfields” -- abandoned or underused industrial sites -- into residential and commercial properties.

One project that may be comparable to a Doraville redevelopment -- although much larger -- is the transformation of the Orlando Naval Training Center into Baldwin Park, a luxury housing and shopping district. Pace, New Broad Street's president, was among the key players in that project.

Following environmental remediation and new construction, the new urbanism design of Baldwin Park features an eight-square-block village center with shops, businesses and homes as well as more traditional residential streets of townhomes and private houses.

Before Republican Mel Martinez stepped down from the U.S. Senate last year, Baldwin Park was said to be the only neighborhood in the nation that was home to two U.S. senators. Democrat Bill Nelson also lives there.

New Broad Street primarily builds "master-planned" communities. The company adheres to the new urbanism ethic of building "live, work and play" projects.

Last year, the company was picked as a consultant to mixed-use developments in Lake County, Fla., and Warsaw, Poland.

Many of the principals at New Broad Street worked at Disney before forming their own firm.

Staff writer Rachel Tobin Ramos contributed to this report.

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