Brookhaven Development Authority moves forward on $15M tax abatement

01/02/2020 — North Druid Hills, Georgia — The exterior of Briarcliff Station, a shopping complex located near 2601 Briarcliff Road, in the North Druid Hills neighborhood in unincorporated DeKalb County, Thursday, January 2, 2020. Developers are hoping to build a tall, mixed-use development in this space with the condition that the property be annexed into the city of Brookhaven. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
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01/02/2020 — North Druid Hills, Georgia — The exterior of Briarcliff Station, a shopping complex located near 2601 Briarcliff Road, in the North Druid Hills neighborhood in unincorporated DeKalb County, Thursday, January 2, 2020. Developers are hoping to build a tall, mixed-use development in this space with the condition that the property be annexed into the city of Brookhaven. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Incentives for project near Briarcliff and North Druid Hills one step closer to reality

The Brookhaven Development Authority voted Tuesday to move forward with controversial plans to issue bonds and offer $15 million in tax incentives for a sizable project near the corner of North Druid Hills and Briarcliff roads.

The “Manor at Druid Hills” development would replace an aging strip mall and abandoned car wash near the intersection, which is one of DeKalb County’s busiest.

The Related Group LLC plans to build about 55,000 square feet of office space, a 140-room hotel and nearly 400 apartments on the site — facilities it hopes will fill demand created by the billion-dollar projects Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory Healthcare are undertaking nearby.

The Related Group initially asked the Decide DeKalb Development Authority to provide incentives to help offset some costs of the $155 million project but, after concerted pushback from county commissioners and school board members, that application was withdrawn.

ExploreThwarted by DeKalb authority, developer eyes tax break from Brookhaven

Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst notified county leaders on Friday that the proposal had resurfaced with his city’s development authority and would be considered soon.

In a special called meeting on Tuesday morning, the Brookhaven Development Authority unanimously approved a resolution outlining the parameters of the deal. If things go as planned, the panel could vote to finalize things as soon as next month.

“We’re very excited, both about the project and also to be part of the city of Brookhaven,” said Ed Allen, Related Group’s senior vice president for development.

As outlined during Tuesday’s meeting, the development authority would issue up to $160 million in bonds to help fund the development, which is scheduled to be completed in 2026. It would also offer the developer a 10-year tax abatement valued at up to $15 million.

Officials said the incentives are needed to “facilitate the construction of the hotel, to offset the cost of supplying the affordable housing units, and to defray the cost of some public infrastructure improvements.”

About 20% of the project’s 382 apartments would be set aside for workforce and affordable housing. Walkways and sidewalks connecting to the new Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta campus would be among the infrastructure improvements.

An aerial view of the planned site for "Manor Druid Hills," a mixed-use development near Briarcliff and North Druid Hills roads. The buildings inside the yellow lines would be replaced with office space, a 140-room hotel and nearly 400 apartments. SPECIAL PHOTO
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An aerial view of the planned site for "Manor Druid Hills," a mixed-use development near Briarcliff and North Druid Hills roads. The buildings inside the yellow lines would be replaced with office space, a 140-room hotel and nearly 400 apartments. SPECIAL PHOTO

DeKalb County commissioners and school board members have for months questioned the need to offer tax incentives in such a high-demand corridor, saying it would unnecessarily limit new revenues coming to their respective tax digests. They have not changed their stance since the proposal resurfaced with the Brookhaven Development Authority.

Proponents of the deal, meanwhile, say the project would increase tax revenues even during the abatement period.

BDA executive director Shirlynn Fortson said the site in question created about $130,000 in tax revenue last year. Somewhere between $14 million and $18 million in net new tax revenues would come in during the decade-long abatement period, she said.

Brookhaven councilwoman Madeleine Simmons said during Tuesday’s meeting that the city was supportive of the deal.

County leaders opposed to the arrangement have no direct authority to stop it. They could, however, file a challenge in court during the bond validation process.