Large mixed-use project in Doraville moves forward

This is a rendering of the Lotus Grove project that was released in 2019.
This is a rendering of the Lotus Grove project that was released in 2019.

Credit: City of Doraville

Credit: City of Doraville

The 13-acre Lotus Grove development will include a hotel, 350 apartments and office, retail and restaurant space

A large mixed-use development in north DeKalb County is still in the works after Doraville gave the developer more time to make progress on the project.

Atlanta-based Insignia LLC plans to transform a shuttered Kmart along Buford Highland and I-285 into the 13-acre Lotus Grove complex. At the end of 2019, the developer announced plans for a five-story, 97-room Hilton brand hotel, 350 apartments, and roughly 115,000 square feet of retail, office and restaurant space.

However, Doraville Councilman Andy Yeoman said the developer needed more time to meet demolition deadlines as part of a bond agreement with the Doraville Downtown Development Authority. At a Wednesday meeting, the developer was given an extension.

The DDA approved the bond agreement last December, which gave Insignia a May deadline to apply for a demolition permit. Asbestos was discovered at the site, which has postponed the developer’s ability to apply for that permit, said Yeoman, who is also a DDA board member.

This is the site plan for the Lotus Grove project in Doraville.
This is the site plan for the Lotus Grove project in Doraville.

Credit: City of Doraville

Credit: City of Doraville

“Obviously, it’s past May, and they did not meet this date because of environmental remediation,” he said in an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The revised (memorandum of understanding) re-baselines the project.”

During the meeting, an Insignia representative said work will commence June 22, and he expects demolition to take place in July. The only other notable change to the project was that a residential building will be nine stories tall instead of seven.

“To imagine going from seeing that Kmart building on I-285 to a nine-story building, it’s totally going to change the landscape of that entry to our community,” Yeoman said during the meeting.

According to documents filed with the city in 2019, the project is estimated to cost about $116 million to construct. To help finance the project, the DDA will issue roughly $120 million worth of revenue bonds, which the developer will have to repay. The developer will also get a tax abatement worth up to about $41 million.

The Lotus Grove project was announced alongside another mixed-use development in the city: Lumen Doraville. The development broke ground at the end of last year and will consist of two new residential buildings with more than 320 apartments as well as approximately 35,000 square feet of commercial space.

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Nearby, the Doraville Assembly project — a shuttered General Motors manufacturing plant — is also poised to be transformed into one of the largest film production sites in the state.

Gray Television recently purchased roughly 128 acres of the site to construct multiple film studios, and the company eventually plans to construct apartments, townhomes, a hotel, corporate offices, restaurants and retail space within its “Studio City” concept.

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