Doraville’s Assembly project will bring new transit options, better access

Just north of the Doraville MARTA station is 165 acres of concrete that used to house the economic heart of Doraville. According to developer The Integral Group, the site will soon be home to metro Atlanta’s “largest, most sustainable transit-oriented development.”

The site of the former General Motors assembly plant, the lot is now known as Assembly Yards, and according to Integral officials, it’s the future home of a “mini-city,” that will include residential and commercial development, as well as the first autonomous shuttle in the region.

Integral officials said the driverless shuttle system will be similar to services already available in Las Vegas, California and Paris. Each clean-energy driverless unit will carry up to 12 passengers and use “cutting-edge guidance and detection systems” to provide transport between Assembly and the Doraville MARTA station.

Along with the autonomous shuttle, officials said the site will be a hub for major transportation, with direct access to the DeKalb-Peachtree Airport and a new highway interchange. Integral Project Executive Eric Pinckney told The Champion that the Georgia Department of Transportation’s (GDOT) new managed lane interchange project on I-285 will include two exits for Doraville—one on Buford Highway and another that will lead directly to Assembly. The new toll lane will operate with bus rapid transit and MARTA to create what Integral officials call “an unprecedented regional multimodal connection”

According to Pinckney, GDOT’s plan originally bypassed Doraville until Mayor Donna Pittman met with officials.

“The mayor advocated for exits by pointing out the transportation significance of Doraville,” Pinckney said. “Why would you bypass your greatest multi-passenger transport location?”

View of the Serta Simmons headquarters, set to be completed January or February 2019. Photo by Derek Smith.

Pedestrian and bike traffic won’t be forgotten, as Doraville officials have worked with officials from Brookhaven, Chamblee and Dunwoody to connect trails from Assembly’s proposed park system to existing trails within those neighboring cities. According to Pickney, the first section of a pedestrian trail will open to the public in August.

“This [mini-city] will be bike and pedestrian friendly, and just car-accommodating,” Pinckney said.

Assembly is already the home of Third Rail Studios, a film and television studio involved with productions such as the film Rampage, and TV shows Good Girls, Lodge 49 and Dynasty. By the first quarter of 2019, Assembly will be home to the new headquarters of Serta Simmons Bedding.

A 600-unit apartment complex will be built at the end of an access bridge that’s the only remaining piece of the original assembly plant. Other developments coming soon will be a movie theater, a drafthouse and a restaurant, though Integral and Doraville officials aren’t ready to discuss who’s bringing those developments.

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