Annexation petition likely beginning to new Decatur development

The most recent site plan for the proposed 265-apartment development between Ponce De Leon and North Arcadia (running diagonally southwest to northeast). The grocery, long rumored a Publix, faces Ponce, with retail on Arcadia and residential fronting the project. Courtesy Alliance Realty Services

Decatur’s commission will consider a petition to annex 14 parcels owned by 11 landowners during its regular meeting 7:30 p.m. Feb. 5 at city hall, 509 North McDonough Street.

The move—property owners are seeking the 100 percent annexation method—is a likely precursor to a mixed use development anchored by a grocery, long rumored to be Publix. This proposed project has been discussed in various public forums since Nov. 2016, but the annexation component is quite new.

The properties are within the wedge created by North Arcadia Drive and East Ponce DeLeon Avenue, a total of just under 10 acres. Only 1.4 acres are currently within Decatur, but annexation would assimilate the entire package.

During a November 16 meeting with the Decatur Heights Neighborhood Association, attorney Den Webb of Smith Gambrell & Russell, and Jack Wilcox, managing director for developer Alliance Realty Services, discussed details of the proposed project.

It features 265 apartments, two 6,000 square foot buildings of retail/restaurant and a 52,000 square foot grocery. Webb and Wilcox still haven’t confirmed the grocery is Publix.

The apartments will be built by the Horsham, Pa., company Toll Brothers, whose website says it’s the 10th largest homebuilder in the U.S.

In November the breakdown was roughly 70 percent one-bedroom and 30 percent two-bed, though Wilcox didn’t rule out adding a few three bedrooms. At that point he was looking at mid to late 2018 for breaking ground.

“We now have an engineered site plan,” Webb said in November. “The message from our standpoint, it’s a go.”

The properties are currently zoned light industrial and include an automobile junk yard, tire repair business, plumbing business and a vacant store among others.

Wilcox didn’t anticipate the development would produce many school children, but that was before annexation came into the picture.

On Nov. 9 the commission and school board had held a rare joint session. During that meeting both Mayor Patti Garrett and City Manager Peggy Merriss told the board that, outside of the old United Methodist Children’s home property, Decatur wasn’t planning to pursue any annexation in 2018.

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