The Georgia Department of Community Affairs recently announced that the vacant Doraville General Motors property and an adjacent Seaboard Oil facility have been approved for the state’s Opportunity Zone designation.
The 165-acre GM Assembly Plant was closed by the company in 2008 as a cost-cutting measure and has remained vacant.
After closing, several to uses of the property were proposed: everything from building a new stadium to a multiuse cityscape facility much like Atlantic Station. However, each time proposals for the $60 million property still owned by GM have fallen through.
According to Doraville spokesman Luke Howe, the Opportunity Zone program affords the most powerful state jobs tax credit under Georgia law. Businesses located within the Opportunity Zone are eligible to receive a $3,500 state tax credit per new job, provided that a minimum of two jobs are created. It will remain valid through 2022.
Although the area is DeKalb County’s first Opportunity Zone, Howe said, the program has been extremely successful throughout the state in redeveloping urban areas. Howe said to qualify as an opportunity zone an area has to be part of an urban redevelopment plan and within or adjacent to a census tract with a 15 percent or greater poverty level.
“Unfortunately, because of deindustrialization that threshold exists for most of the town,” Howe said.
Doraville’s designated Opportunity Zone consists of an area that is 29.5 percent below poverty level, according to a map released by city officials. Howe said the main reason city officials wanted to qualify for the Opportunity Zone designation is to spur job creation.
“I had originally proposed all of the commercial areas but that was not very well received because it was a difficult pill to swallow, but maybe if we break that pill up it might be a little bit easier,” Howe said.
Mayor Donna Pittman said the Opportunity Zone designation will serve as a powerful incentive for redevelopment in the area.
“It will prove instrumental in maximizing the site’s massive job growth potential,” Pittman said.
Howe said the city is working on additional applications to qualify for the Opportunity Zone designation because most of the commercial areas throughout the city are eligible.
Additionally, Howe said there are developers interested in the GM plant but nothing substantial he could speak about at the moment.
“There has never been a lack of interest, especially in GM, but there’s nothing that I can talk about right now,” Howe said.