Artist rendition of the planned mixed use development for Decatur’s Bank of America site. This is view is from Commerce Drive looking south. Courtesy Mill Creek Residential

Decatur proceeds with ‘Bank of America’ project minus affordable units

Earlier this week Decatur’s commission approved a “special exemption application” for a long planned project on the Bank of America property north of the courthouse.

The conditional use permit for a mixed-use development featuring 194 apartments and about 25,000 square feet of retail initially received commission approval in 2017. That permit included a “Lifecycle Density Bonus” allowing for 38 additional units that were planned as affordable housing.

But since 2017 developers Mill Creek Residential found ground water on the site, meaning it can’t build the extra level of underground parking that’s required to support the 38 units. The commission decision this week therefore eliminated the Lifecycle Dwelling Density Bonus.

The 2.8-acre site is bordered by Commerce Drive north, Clairemont Avenue west and Church Street east, with an alley to the south that will get extended through from Clairemont to Church.

“We do want affordable housing in all our developments,” said Assistant City Manger Lyn Menne. “But in this case it just doesn’t work. What we are getting is a safer, more pedestrian-friendly downtown. It’ll be more about having a grid instead of a super block.”

According to Mill Creek officials, they hope to start construction on the new bank in 60 days, relocating it to the site’s northeast corner at Church and Commerce. The goal is to finish the new bank by year’s end and commence work on the rest of project next year.

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