City Schools Decatur closes on six-acre site

City Schools Decatur has closed on a six-acre tract of land at the corner of Talley Street and South Columbia Drive with a total cost of $7.195 million. It’s the school system’s largest land purchase since acquiring the site that became Renfroe Middle School in the late 1960s.

The land had been under contract for over a year and the purchase a complicated one according to CSD general counsel Bob Wilson. It includes eight lots with two separate property owners (not counting various partners), with four houses fronting South Columbia at one end, the Atlanta Gymnastics Center at the other.

Former Superintendent Phyllis Edwards envisioned a combination K-3 school and 4/5 Academy for the site, which she anticipated opening by 2018-19 or earlier. But David Dude, who became superintendent in November, has said the school board and community input meetings will determine what gets built there.

Dude, who is on vacation, was unavailable for comment, but on Friday morning Wilson said the closing was a culmination of a four-year search for land.

“The trick was finding land that was large enough to build a school on,” Wilson said, “but also finding land that made political sense, where you’re not wiping out a whole neighborhood. Eventually I identified 12 potential sties, but by now most of those have been gobbled up by developers.”

Money for purchasing the properties became available when voters passed a $75 million General Obligation Bond in November.

The southeast Decatur site is accessible through two major corridors from the north, Commerce Drive and Sams Crossing, and neither is blocked by railroad tracks. It also sits directly across from an AT&T facility, which the city hopes to eventually purchase and turn into a lake and park.