CORRECTED: School District officials to discuss future of Briarcliff High School

The old Briarcliff High School, which closed in 2009, could be demolished if the DeKalb Board of Education vote to do so. Photo by Carla Parker


DeKalb County School District officials will recommend whether to demolish the unoccupied Briarcliff High School, according to a Facebook post.

According to Tim DeBardelaben of the Briarcliff High School BHS Coalition, the district administration will discuss what to do with the unoccupied building and will pass along its recommendation to the Board of Education. A flier posted on the Briarcliff High School Facebook page Sept. 17 asked people to rally at the Oct. 7 school board meeting and states that school board members will discuss the issue during their work session at 2 p.m. and will vote on it at its business meeting at 7 p.m.

The flier encourages supporters to email and call school members to oppose the demolition of the school building. However, many comments beneath the flier show a lack of support for keeping the school open, citing concerns over the cost.

Dianne Medlock Joy questioned how much money is being poured into the building to keep it open.

“As a taxpayer on [three] DeKalb county houses and [three] grandchildren who live in DeKalb County, I want to see my money go to something that improves our school system–the same system that provided us a great education,” Joy posted. “That abandoned building is a money pit and needs to be torn down, sold or at least leased out to an outside company.”

“We cannot afford as a district to spend money on a building that will not be used, or that will cost more to tear down, than the property’s value,” Dawn Forman said in a post.

DeBardelaben said he was told it would cost $500,000-$750,000 to demolish it.

“I don’t think anyone knows an accurate figure yet,” he said.

Briarcliff High School, which is located on North Druid Hills Road, opened in 1958 to relieve overcrowding at Druid Hills High School, according to its Wikipedia page. The school district closed Briarcliff at the end of the 1986-1987 school year due to a population shift.

DeKalb School of the Arts (DSA) and the Open Campus High School operated in Briarcliff’s buildings from 1987 to 2009. DSA moved back onto Avondale High School’s campus in 2009 and the Open Campus moved to the new county office campus in Stone Mountain. Adams Stadium remains a site for high school football games and other events.

In 2006, Florida developer Sembler Company offered to purchase the 39 acres along North Druid Hills Road, which includes the land Briarcliff High School and Adams Stadium to build a large, mixed-use development. The school board valued Sembler’s offer at more than $60 million, which would be paid by Sembler in the form of a land-swap and the construction of new buildings for all of the displaced schools, according to news reports. However, the recession and protests by local residents ended Sembler’s plans.

The Briarcliff site was used as one location for shooting MTV’s Teen Wolf series.

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  1. Tim DeBardelaben says:

    Pleas get your facts correct. I do not think you should be writing an article by reading a Facebook page. Did anybody check any facts. No where on Briarcliff High School Coalition page was written that it would cost 3-4 million. It was written 3/4. Wikipedia was copied word for word about school.Wish the post had been also.

  2. J.M. Fleming says:

    Dear Ms. Parker,

    Thank you for bringing attention to the Briarcliff High School BHS Coalition. In order to get your article in by the deadline, you must have been in too quick of a hurry to be able to get your information correct from the Briarcliff High School BHS Coalition FB page and other “back up” sources as needed. To help, I have listed the following information:

    1. If you’d read on down the page, you would have found that the information about the DOE voting:
    Briarcliff High School BHS Coalition….
    Told today that the Board of Education will be voting on BHS. They will be voting on one of three options. Demolish, Sell, or reuse for something. The Facility Condition Assessment Report recommendation is to demolish. They have no recommendation or option on table for reuse. If we want to do something now is the time to give them a presentation on how to use the bldg. September 17 at 10:00pm
    -was wrong and was corrected:
    Briarcliff High School BHS Coalition…. I’m sorry I misled you when I said BOE was voting. It is the administrators voting for recommendation to BOE. Sorry about that mistake. September 17 at 10:40pm

    2. Your statement, “According to a post by the Briarcliff High School BHS Coalition, repairing the building will cost the school district $1.9 million or $3 million to $4 million to demolish it.”
    -was also incorrectly read and reported:
    Briarcliff High School BHS Coalition…..will cost $1.9 million to repair or $3/4 million to demolish. September 17 at 10:00pm (That was ¾ as in 3/4th of a million –without the “th”. You just assumed and didn’t check the “facts”.)

    3. Your statement, “The Briarcliff site is currently being used as one location for shooting MTV’s Teen Wolf series.”
    -Is also incorrect:
    • If you’d contacted the School Board, they would have told you that “Teen Wolf” stopped filming there a year or so ago.
    •Confirmed: MTV’s ‘Teen Wolf’ leaves Atlanta, moves to Los Angeles 3:24 pm July 2, 2012, by Rodney Ho.

    Please rewrite a retraction with the corrected information.
    Thank you,
    J. M. Fleming (9-27-13)
    Briarcliff High School BHS Coalition Member

  3. HMS Holland Properties says:

    As an owner of numerous residential properties in the Druid Hills/Briarcliff area, I believe the most cost efficient solution that would help the area’s property values would be to #1 Keep the grounds presentable. #2 Start seeking buyers (not selling to just Friends and Family). #3 Sell to a reputable developer with deep pockets for a private school, church or high-end shopping/living community. What they should not do is let it sit and just rot for years until they need it. They should not tear it down and become a weed infested vacant lot. They should not try to rennovate it (when they already have proven budget issues andpast legal issues with friends and family building). They should not sell it out of desperation to a low ball offer. Start seeking buyers now though.

  4. Robert says:

    Sad to see it go, but times change. What else is the school system going to do with it? It is in an excellent location that a private developer could use which would contribute to DeKalb’s tax base.

  5. Dan Thomason says:

    The BHS building has many good years left and can be used for many, many things. I think that to spend 3-4 million dollars of school board funds to destroy something that could produce income is ludicrous.

  6. Jon says:

    It’s unfortunate that so many residents in the area are short sighted. Selling to Sembler would have been the best use of this property. They were planning on making a serious investment in the community.

    Look at what we got across the street when the same thing happened. The residents revolted and pushed out the people who wanted to make a real investment there, so instead we have another strip mall with a Mattress Firm and a Sprint store. Brilliant. That will really attract people to the area.

    Do you all realize what increases property value? Location. What makes a location good? Being near interesting things. How would I define interesting things? I can tell you it’s NOT the Matress Firm.

    So instead of drawing new taxpayers and shoppers to the area and boosting property value we have a money pit. Congratulations.

  7. Jeff Bragg says:

    Before I retired as a DeKalb teacher in 2011 I was involved in discussions about the fate of the old Briarcliff HS. The story from some school system maintenance administrators was that the school was still full of asbestos. If true (I believe it) it will add to the cost of demolition. So it would be better to include the responsibility for that in the contract with a buyer. One alternative, renovation and reuse, still probably requires much asbestos abatement. It would also require bringing the entire building up to federal standards (ADA) for disabled people.

  8. Camille says:

    constantly i used to read smaller articles which also clear their motive, and that
    is also happening with this article which I am reading
    at this time.

  9. Elizabeth Jackson says:

    Now the Cross Key schools, fairly close to Briarcliff are needing space. Rennovating the building would not be that expensive. Why scatter these overcrowded school students so far away as planned and not start with new building. When the school was first built closeness to the expressway was a plus.

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