Massive GM plant redevelopment back on track



The massive redevelopment of the old GM plant in Doraville is back on track after it stalled last year due to a public infrastructure improvement shortfall of about $180 million. The $2 billion-project is expected to take from five to eight years to build out and will include more than 10 million square feet of office towers, apartments, stores and restaurants sitting along MARTA’s Gold Line.

The project was set to begin last summer when DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Stephen Green blocked the formation of a tax allocation district. The district would have provided the necessary $185 million in public infrastructure funding to go along with the $2 billion-private investment. To get around this, the developer, Integral Group LLC, worked with the City of Doraville to create the Assembly Community Improvement District, whose future revenues it can use to make bond payments to fund the public infrastructure improvements.

I have not been able to see exactly what the boundaries of this new district would be, but a typical community improvement district (CID) collects a tax of sorts from businesses located within its geographical boundaries, with those funds going toward improvements in the district. And apparently this new CID either isn’t at the mercy of the DeKalb Schools’ superintendent, or he is not opposed to it.

The project will give new life to the 165-acre GM site which has sat noticeably dormant along I-285 in Doraville. The plant opened in 1947 and closed in 2008.

The plant has been demolished, and one component of the new development has already been completed. A 60,000-square-foot film and television studio is up and running. Filming has already begun there in what Integral’s CEO Egbert Perry says is the largest film for 2017.

Renderings of the new project show plenty of mixed-use with walkable streets connecting workers and residents to shops, restaurants and MARTA. Perry predicts the project will create up to 8,000 office, retail and light manufacturing jobs.

The project sits just north of the DeKalb-Peachtree Airport and will add a significant value to the homes in neighborhoods along Peachtree Industrial in Chamblee and Buford Highway (there are not a lot of residential neighborhoods in Doraville. At this time, Zillow shows 11 houses listed in the Doraville city limits). While there has been some rebuilding of homes in that area, most neighborhoods are ranch-style homes in the $300,000-range. Values could jump with the addition of this massive, urban development just up the road.

There has not been a lot of new redevelopment along Peachtree Industrial or Buford Highway in that area. The roads are mostly aging industrial and office buildings with a number of car dealerships scattered in between. The area could be ripe for the millennial market with moderately priced homes near a very walkable urban district and a MARTA station.

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