2020 Census: Stonecrest is most populous DeKalb city; Chamblee is fastest-growing

People check out booths at the soft opening of the New Black Wall Street Market in Stonecrest, Georgia, on Saturday, May 29, 2021. (Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Rebecca Wright

Credit: Rebecca Wright

People check out booths at the soft opening of the New Black Wall Street Market in Stonecrest, Georgia, on Saturday, May 29, 2021. (Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

DeKalb County’s dozen cities all experienced growth over the past decade, but some grew at faster rates than others.

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released its 2020 results, which showed the county has a new most populous city — Stonecrest — and the fastest-growing city in metro Atlanta — Chamblee.

Stonecrest surpassed Brookhaven to have the most people within its city limits. Stonecrest has more than 59,000, while Brookhaven hovers around 55,000. Before the 2020 Census took place, the bureau released estimates that showed Brookhaven was expected to edge out Stonecrest for the top spot in DeKalb, but the final results ended up not being close.

“I’m not surprised we’re almost at 60,000,” Mayor Jason Lary told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We built this for growth. We knew it was headed that way.”

He said lots of homes have been built in the city, which was founded in 2017. Lary also mentioned development projects like the New Black Wall Street Market and new tenants at the Mall at Stonecrest as attractions for people in south DeKalb. The Stonecrest City Council agreed, highlighting the affordability of the area and its proximity to Arabia Mountain.

“We’ve had increasing building activity almost every year, and 2021 is shaping up to be a record year for homebuilding in the City of Stonecrest,” the council said in an emailed statement. “...We also have a growing ecosystem for entrepreneurs and small businesses that is helping to create a true live-work-play community.”

Lary added that an annexation is possible east of the current city limits, which could add another 10,000 people to the city. He said those neighborhoods were initially included in Stonecrest’s cityhood movement, but they were excluded due to expected revenue challenges.

“Now since we have a very good balance of commercial, industrial and residential, we can take on those services and take on an extra 10,000 residents that are looking to come into Stonecrest,” he said, predicting that Stonecrest will be one of the 10 most populous cities in the state after another decade. “We’re going to continue to grow and show that a majority African American city can have superior quality.”

Chamblee, the county’s fourth most populous city, effectively tripled its population since 2010. It started the decade with roughly 9,800 residents and ended it with more than 30,000, mostly due to two annexations. The only city to gain more residents in that time was Atlanta, and only two Georgia cities — Morgan and Pendergrass — grew at faster rates over the past decade.

City leaders have credited Chamblee’s location as a transportation hub, with close proximity to two interstates, a MARTA station and the Peachtree-DeKalb Airport, as a key reason for the city’s growth. Chamblee has recently attracted multiple mixed-use developments and office projects.

“(The population growth) gave the city a little more opportunity to bring in staff as well as some additional consultants to help with projects that were on the books,” City Manager Jon Walker said. “It also created the need and the desire for new projects.”

Clarkston is DeKalb’s runner up regarding growth, while every other city saw a more modest uptick in population since 2010. Even DeKalb’s smallest city, Pine Lake, added 22 more residents over the past decade.


Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Other DeKalb cities, namely Lithonia and Tucker, have shown interest in annexing nearby properties, which could quickly increase how many people live within their borders. Lithonia’s effort will be on local ballots in November, while Tucker’s attempt didn’t make it through the state Legislature.

Here are all of the 2020 populations for DeKalb cities, according to the Census Bureau:

• Avondale Estates: 3,567

• Brookhaven: 55,161

• Chamblee: 30,164

• Clarkston: 14,756

• Decatur: 24,928

• Doraville: 10,623

• Dunwoody: 51,683

• Lithonia: 2,662

• Pine Lake: 752

• Stone Mountain: 6703

• Stonecrest: 59,194

• Tucker: 37,005