Doraville pushing for place at GM redevelopment table

But leaders of the small DeKalb County municipality – watching a flurry of activity from DeKalb, the developer and consultants – have begun to worry it doesn’t have a place at the table.

So next week, while the county commission will talk about bonds to finance the redevelopment, Doraville is interviewing six firms in a bid to find its own consultant – quickly.

“We needed somebody yesterday to preserve our interest in the GM development,” said Councilwoman Pam Fleming. “Our interest has not been at the forefront.”

New Broad Street, a Florida firm, announced in January that it was under contract to buy the 165-acre site. The Florida firm has since declined to comment, citing a confidentiality agreement with GM.

But a month prior to the announcement, the company said it wanted to transform the area into a new downtown Doraville, with homes, eateries, businesses and offices.

That fits into Doraville’s plans for the site, which is bordered by MARTA rail and Interstate 285. City leaders and residents also have been adamant that a mixed-use project not include a long-rumored stadium for the Atlanta Falcons and be under local control.

But DeKalb leaders have already hired a consultant, Carter and Thompson Dawson Real Estate Services, to look at the project.

That consultant has recommended the county issue $36 million in bonds to finance the redevelopment. That issue has been a hot topic for the County Commission, which deferred a vote two weeks ago for more discussion.

Days later, representatives from the consultant met with Doraville Mayor Ray Jenkins, suggesting that the city put up $10 million for the project, or take on part of the $36 million debt.

Doraville, with a one-man planning department and just 10,000 residents, has been overwhelmed by the county’s vision, especially without concrete plans of its own.

“The county has hired someone to represent them and tell us what they really wanted,” Jenkins said. “It’s only right that we get that same option.”

The City Council is slated to conduct interviews Tuesday and Wednesday night. The firms being interviewed are CH2M Hill, Clark Patterson Lee, Moreland Altobelli Associates, Neopolis LLC, Perkins and Will and URS.

The consultant would work to help the Doraville negotiate planning, design and other details.

New Broad Street had been expected to close on the property by June 30, though Jenkins said that deadline is expected to be extended.

Doraville hopes to hire its consultant this month.

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