‘Downtown DeKalb’ area to be proposed by county CEO

Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May on Thursday plans to propose moving central county offices from Decatur to Memorial Drive, creating the foundation for a “Downtown DeKalb” district of government, commercial and residential development.

The idea will be a centerpiece of May’s State of the County address that he’s delivering to the business community and the public.

May envisions the relocation as a way to help revitalize the Memorial Drive corridor, which stretches through the heart of the county from Stone Mountain to Atlanta.

The relocation would put DeKalb’s government closer to the middle of the 700,000-person county, making it more accessible to those who live in the mostly residential southern half of the county.

Details about the plan weren’t released Wednesday in advance of May’s speech.

The DeKalb courthouse would remain in Decatur, which is the county seat. But administration offices would be moved to unincorporated county land. Most of the region’s other counties currently do government business in their main cities.

DeKalb County is the largest employer in Decatur, with 1,637 workers in 2014, according to the city’s annual financial report. It’s unknown how many of those jobs would move outside the city.

It’s also unclear where on Memorial Drive the development would be built. The county currently operates a jail, elections office and tax office near the intersection with I-285. The Kensington MARTA station is also nearby.

The county’s central government offices have been located in downtown Decatur for decades, but the buildings are old and filled to capacity. In the main government building, an elevator has been broken for more than two months while a replacement part is being custom made.

May will deliver his State of the County speech twice Thursday — first at a business luncheon hosted by the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and the Council for Quality Growth, and then at 7 p.m. to the general public in the Maloof Auditorium in downtown Decatur.