Last Friday, Dekalb County CEO Burrell Ellis echoed what many government officials and business leaders say these days.
“I think the rest of the nation is looking at metro Atlanta to see what’s going to happen,” he said, referring to the region’s transportation woes.
Ellis joined Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos and Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis in a roundtable luncheon and panel discussion by the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts at Villa Christina restaurant. John Heagy, Chair of DeKalb PCID, moderated the talk, which focused on economic development.
A takeaway from the event was that the success of Dekalb County helps Dunwoody; the success of Dunwoody benefit’s Sandy Springs, and vice versa.
“The objective is to fill office space,” Galambos said. “It doesn’t matter if we fill Dunwoody or Sandy Springs. We all benefit together.”
The Mayor said 300 new businesses settled in Sandy Springs during the first quarter of this year.
In talking public/private partnerships Mayor Galambos said Japan officials recently visited Sandy Springs to learn more about the concept.
“In Japan, all of those cities that were wiped out by the tsunami are like new cities [now], and they are looking at cities like Sandy Springs,” she said.
While Sandy Springs is focused on a master plan to create a new downtown area, Dunwoody has its own major new development in the works.
The 35-acre multi-use development, in the Georgetown area, ties in with the reasons Dunwoody became its own city, Davis said. Sixteen acres of the project was set to be an apartment development before the developer went bankrupt, he said.
“We had an influx of apartments coming into Dunwoody over the last 10 years, that pretty much forced our hand,” Davis said. “We’ve had about 9,400 apartments open in Dunwoody in the last 10 years. That changed the total tone of Dunwoody from about 93 percent single-family homes to 53 percent single-family homes. That’s why we wanted to become a city.”
In business, Davis added that Elekta medical firm’s relocation to Dunwoody will bring jobs and trainees who will use 7,000 hotel rooms per year.
Ellis is excited about redevelopment of the 165-acre former General Motors site in Doraville, which will impact Dunwoody and surrounding areas.
It’s considered the most significant site for redevelopment in the Southeastern United States, he said.
“Dekalb County working with the city of Doraville, Chamblee and the private sector is putting forth a strong effort. I believe very soon we will be able to make an announcement about the redevelopment of that site and what that will do to generate economic activity,” he said.