Although community activists could not stop the Walmart from being built in Suburban Plaza, they still communicate with developers in hopes of making sure the plaza has a positive impact in the Decatur community.
Good Growth DeKalb met with Selig representatives Dec. 9 to discuss the development of Suburban Plaza and the new Walmart. The 150,000-square-foot Walmart store opened before the Thanksgiving holiday.
Betty Blondeau of Good Growth DeKalb said her group and Selig representatives also discussed forming a security committee.
“The representatives were quite open about Selig wanting to work with the community to develop Suburban Plaza—something that did have the community’s backing,” Blondeau said. “They were obviously familiar with our efforts to stop the Walmart, so it seems there have been some conversations about wanting this committee to represent not just security concerns but quality of life concerns. That is what Good Growth DeKalb is all about—trying to create an environment in this community that is conducive a sound, solid future growth. We’ll continue to meet with that committee.”
Good Growth DeKalb began protesting the Walmart in January 2012. With its high traffic density and visible location, the group said it sees Suburban Plaza as gateway to Decatur, where “smart development of unique local business benefits the community and sets Decatur apart from other communities around Atlanta.”
The organization’s primary concern was the exit routing of delivery trucks, including daily tractor semi-trailers, onto Medlock Road, which is designated as the a truck-restricted county road.
“We are continuing to have conversations with Selig and looking for community input to try to make the best of what it is,” Blondeau said. “The bowling alley that everybody wanted—luckily [Twain’s Billiards & Tap] came in and took that over. We’re very optimistic about what Twain’s can do with that bowling alley. We’re continuing to work with Selig to try to make the best of this situation.
“They’re putting a very high priority on this particular Walmart and on this development,” Blondeau added.
The possibility of increased traffic was also a concern for Good Growth DeKalb. Blondeau said she has gotten emails from residents in the area who said there has been more traffic on Scott Boulevard.
“The question was is this increase in traffic from Walmart or has this just been in the past few weeks,” she said. “It’s really too early to see if that’s the case. No one has done a traffic study on it, but just anecdotally, it would seem that there has been some increase but there is no way to substantiate that at this point.
“There continue to be concerns about the garbage pickup at ungodly hours—4 a.m.—which wakes the neighbors,” Blondeau added. “It would seem that they’re trying to address that with the county, trying to make that better. I think it’s too early for anybody to say clearly whether what has been an impact.”
Selig is revitalizing the 60-year-old plaza, which will increase by 30,000 square feet, would add 600-800 jobs to the community and spur redevelopment in the corridor, according to Selig representatives.
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