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Decatur Neighborhoods Concerned About Proposed Suburban Plaza Walmart

Though the development would be outside the city limits, the Decatur residents want the developer to know they're worried.

Decatur neighborhoods have gotten together to share worries about the proposed Suburban Plaza Walmart, which would be located just outside the Decatur city limits.

A committee from the Decatur Heights Neighborhood Association met Sunday with representatives from the Springdale Heights, Glennwood Estates, Sycamore Ridge, Sycamore Station and Glenlake Commons neighborhoods.

According to a list of concerns compiled from the meeting, residents are worried about traffic congestion, environmental impact, the spillover of parking into adjacent streets and many other issues that were listed in bullet point form.

"The idea," the summary of the neighborhood meeting said, "is to work with Walmart and Selig rather than against them, and let them know our expectations are high."

No date for a meeting has been announced. with residents of the Medlock Area Neighborhood Association.

Selig Enterprises of Atlana, the developer, wants to build a Walmart as part of the renovation of the aging Suburban Plaza shopping center at North Decatur Road and Church Street. The firm is seeking a parking variance and would like to build an underground parking garage.

According to a Development of Regional Impact statement filed by DeKalb County, the project calls for the "Demolition of approximately 144,000 sf of existing commercial space and the addition of 149,000 sf for a new total shopping center square footage of 324,614 sf."

Victoria Webb November 19, 2011 at 07:40 PM
Thanks Alison - do we know where the meeting will be and what time?
Alison Kyle November 19, 2011 at 07:56 PM
Actually I don't yet know the time and location. But I will post once I know. Or if someone else finds out first, please post!!!!
Alex C Pearson Pearson November 20, 2011 at 12:25 PM
I am so for this. I thnk that is an excellent idea and would be well used.. A 'michaels would be nice too although there are ones at Noethlake and on Piedmont.
Alison Kyle November 20, 2011 at 04:30 PM
Alex, Whether or not you would shop there is not really the point. The addition of large big box stores at Suburban Plaza will add enormous amounts of additional traffic, light bleed-over into nearby neighborhoods, the addition of 8 deliveries/day via 18 wheelers down our residential streets, impact to our local businesses, & may bring crime with a 24 hour store with underground parking. Yes, Suburban Plaza will look "better"- Walmart will spruce it up and add green space. But at what price?
Victoria Webb November 20, 2011 at 04:38 PM
It will definitely lower housing values in immediate neighborhoods, create more traffic & crime. There's a reason these big-box stores don't go into affluent neighborhoods. I also think with retail making a slow recovery, there could be a real chance to attract some great young businesses in the area - perhaps in the near future. With a Walmart squeezing out anyone else, there will no longer be an opportunity for small biz growth.
Mark November 20, 2011 at 11:46 PM
I guess these guys are not on the same page as the Clifton Corridor study. If the TSPLOST is voted in, Suburban Plaza will get its comeback. I hope Selig Enterprises is aware of what is going on. http://www.itsmarta.com/uploadedFiles/About_MARTA/Planning/Clifon_Corr/LRT_BRT-Section%205%20N%20Decatur%20to%20Suburban%20Plaza_10-25-2011_48x36.pdf
Sophie November 22, 2011 at 06:36 PM
This.is so typical bs. This will hurt the small businesses. Walmart is a racket where most of the goods come from China, etc. We need a park with real grass. There a Walmart just 5 miles away. This is crap. Whole foods yes, Walmart no.
David Smith November 29, 2011 at 07:22 AM
Um, okay. Who is we? Are you going to pay for that?
David Smith November 29, 2011 at 07:23 AM
Yeah, I'm still angry that they tore down that vacant mall. That was MUCH better than a Walmart.
David Smith November 29, 2011 at 07:25 AM
Big box stores don't go into affluent neighborhoods? Have you been to Buckhead? or Peachtree City? Or Dunwoody?
David Smith November 29, 2011 at 07:26 AM
Well, don't shop there. Or better yet, buy the land and make it a park.
David Smith November 29, 2011 at 07:28 AM
Shoved down your throat? You know, you never have to set foot in a Walmart. Why does it make you so angry if someone else chooses to shop there?
Lori Diem November 29, 2011 at 07:14 PM
I actually think it is a great idea. I for one would pay for it. We are already "paying for" the lovely Wal-Mart that is less than 5 miles away from the proposed Wal-Mart. We are paying for it in crime, traffic and Wal-Mart shopping carts littering Memorial drive.
Lori Diem November 29, 2011 at 07:16 PM
While I know you are being sarcastic, I agree with you. Low wages and crime induced by Wal-Mart is NOT a plus to those of us who live down the street. Anything is better than Wal-Mart - including a vacant mall. Hmmm, maybe a green space, coffee house and cheaper housing for those who serve the community. Wait. That is what they promised us when they put the Wal-Mart in. Take a look to see if ANY of that is there!
Sophie November 29, 2011 at 08:14 PM
You obviously have no children in the area. There are some Greeter jobs open for those were camping downtown.
David S November 30, 2011 at 08:46 PM
Just a reminder, Kevin - every iPhone sold by Apple was made in China.
David S November 30, 2011 at 08:47 PM
Increased traffic? I hope so. That’s an indication of a successful center, regardless of what stores are located there. Walmart, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, small shops, restaurants – if there are customers, there will be traffic. If you don’t want increased traffic, you’re implying that you don’t want a successful center. Increased Crime? Based on what? For the month of November, there were 71 reported crimes within a 2-mile radius of the Tucker Walmart, 69 within a 2-mile radius of Suburban Plaza.
David S November 30, 2011 at 08:49 PM
What is it that you don’t want the county commission to approve? Selig’s not seeking a zoning change. He’s asking for a variance to provide fewer parking spaces. That means less pavement, and more grass, trees, or some sort of vegetation. In addition, Walmart is paying to put their required parking underground, which means even less surface pavement. Look at the site now, paved from curb to curb, and tell me this won’t be an improvement.
Victoria Webb November 30, 2011 at 09:19 PM
Here's a great study for anyone who thinks Walmart will create jobs in our community: http://staylocal.org/pdf/info/ThinkingOutsidetheBox_1.pdf Civic economics studies across the country - from Austin (2002), Chicago (2004), San Francisco (2007), Phoenix (2007) and Grand Rapids (2008) - have shown that big box stores do not create jobs that are sustainable, and that most of the profits go to outside their local communities. Local retailers were found to generate 3 times the local economic activity as the chain store. With the current retail economy strengthening over the next few years, there's a good chance for small business to take hold in Suburban Plaza. Rents are cheap. But with a Walmart occupying the space, there will be little chance of that happening.
Victoria Webb November 30, 2011 at 09:25 PM
-and another 2004 study showing the relationship between increased county-level family poverty rates and Walmart stores, from Penn State: http://cecd.aers.psu.edu/pubs/PovertyResearchWM.pdf
Lori Diem December 02, 2011 at 02:33 AM
David, have you taken a look at the crime in the Memorial Drive Wal-Mart? I don't receive the reports anymore as it was too depressing reading all of the reports of crime IN the Wal-Mart. This is even with the cameras surrounding the Wal-Mart. Take a look at the stats and reports out there. Crime = Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart = poor wages/insurance for the employees. I think there might be a story, movie, etc. or two about this.
Lori Diem December 02, 2011 at 02:34 AM
Amen, sister!
David S December 02, 2011 at 09:39 PM
This is an advocacy paper not a pure study. The Urban Conservancy is hardly an unbiased group (But then, I’m not either). And it doesn’t really address job creation. It looks at the effect of retail activity on a local economy by comparing targeted group of small, well established retail shops in a very dense, urban area of New Orleans to a hypothetical, generic, Super Target, based on national sales figures. The relevance of this study to Suburban Plaza is a bit of a stretch, other than the obvious point that national chain stores take money out of the local economy. This would certainly apply to Wal-Mart, but it also apply to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, with HQ’s in Austin, Texas and Monrovia, California, respectively.
Victoria Webb December 02, 2011 at 10:01 PM
@David, the studies were not simply 'advocacy papers'. They were conducted by economics consultancies for various cities over a period of years. Sorry that link doesn't seem to be working, here's another version to show comparisons between chain retailers and local merchants: http://www.liveablecity.org/lcfullreport.pdf These studies have also been conducted all over the country by cities in the process of regeneration. There have also been economic studies done by ag schools on the positive impact of buying from local farmers versus supporting the larger agricultural industrial complex.
david January 18, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Suburban Plaza is a dump, it hurts property values & is an eye sore. Anecdotally - I've had two friends lose their businesses in Suburban Plaza or just down the street due to poor foot traffic. The Plaza is a loser of a location. The County is losing important tax revenue from it too. I suggest that our property taxes reduce and let Walmart replenish the County coffers with their evil corporate ill-begotten greed. Where else can retired senior citizens, middle aged people, or high school graduates find jobs in today's Dekalb County? Decatur Square? Walmart offers several hundred jobs from janitor to manager for citizens of Dekalb County. Turn Scott Blvd & Lawrenceville Hwy in tolls to further reduce our property taxes once Walmart goes up. The revenues will pay for the non-existent road repair we currently don't receive. Regarding the so-called issue of crime. Crime is not because of poor people. It's because of a lack moral and civil upbringing including, Father with Mother, with Religion that teaches ethical monotheism (D. Prager). There have been 3 attacks on grandmothers at Chucky Cheese's in Detroit in the last couple of weeks -- no WalMart nearby, just plain bad narcissistic, amoral thugs. We will reap the benefit of choice to pay for products at a lower cost or pay a higher cost for the same Chinese-made product elsewhere. No one in the market for a good bicycle will purchase at WalMart over BikeSouth. But to purchase a kid's bike 60% less-oh yeah.
Tom Doolittle January 19, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Was SuburbanPlaza in the area that was proposed for annexation by City of Decatur? The City doesn't wait for LCIs--and it coordinates planning with economic development functions--and its foward thinking. Higher taxes than DeKalb, but maybe you get what you pay for. At some point, the residents in the area may actually ASK for annexation.
Stephen Decatur January 19, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Not exactly. Decatur's forward thinking may pre-date the LCI program but today the entire city is an LCI project district. The 2002 Avondale Marta station visioning process was made possible by LCI money, as was a significant portion of the city's recent 10 year strategic plan. Most of the city's big projects have been funded or partially funded through grants and other outside sources. Decatur just happens to be very effective at securing them.
Tom Doolittle January 19, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Stephen: Thanks for the clarification. My main point is that in terms of planning something desirable and bearing on public input, these folks would be better served by the city than the county. So was thiis part of the area that was proposed to be annexed?
~ HHS ~ February 08, 2012 at 02:56 AM
I cannot believe that I just read that someone said, "make it a greenspace"! Wow! I think everyone on this site that agrees with that statement should donate their OWN land/investment and just make their home a nice green park--Agreed?? In fact, I think we should demolish all of DeKalb and build log cabins, ride horses and plant fields of daisies. Sure you want to protect your investment in your home. But, you don't think that other land owners have investment in their properties too? SP used to have a huge Belk store, Learners and other large retail shops. From someone who has been going to the shopping center for 48 years, I have seen it with a FULL parking lot in the 70's. The area could handle a full parking in the past... was zoned for large retail stores in the past.. So--with all the vacant car lots and other shopping areas around, redevelopment of the area should not be an issue. As for Wal-Mart being the factor in Memorial Drive and Colombia Drive--those areas were already so far gone, it was too late. I seriously doubt Wal-Mart can change much about this area either at this point--except improve the shopping center. Have you looked down Buford Hwy lately??? Do you not see the Pink Pony? The liquor stores? Police Station? The bars on the windows of the gas stations? For God's sake-Have you gone to the Wal-Mart in Brookhaven, Alpharetta, Sydney Marcus and other affluent areas? Wal-Mart and all of the surrounding neighborhoods are thriving. Just Saying.
CJM August 07, 2012 at 11:33 PM
David S. must work for Selig. Or Walmart.

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