While you aren’t looking: City economic development news

This is the first installment of many that will tie some news events from other communities and governments that may help make sense of current conditions or challenge your perception of them in North Central DeKalb. The events will be reported here in relatively abbreviated form with some hints as to applicability in the North Central DeKalb “corridor”. As Rod Serling of television’s Twilight Zone said, “submitted for your consideration”, these are seemingly unrelated events that can be speculatively connected.

This column could have just as well have been named “back page news”, or “trees falling in the woods”—the events will affect you, you just won’t recognize it when it does. Here’s an extreme example that challenges the consumer to consider an alternate narrative for events around you. Don’t believe it, as mainstream news outlets expect, but consider what it might mean. http://pro.sovereignsociety.com/99NDPNEW/ENDPQ140/?email=test%40example.com&a=10&o=0&s=0&u=1&l=225102&r=MC&g=0&h=true

This column will attempt to avoid the usual hot buttons related to new cityhood, but will beg you to consider what is happening in traditional cities as applicable to operating new ones. This column will have no position. It will have no preference. It will make few assertions with which to agree or disagree. It will offer opportunities to ask why these events are meaningful to our cityhood movement and challenges to our current government representation.

That said—here’s the first installment of “While You Aren’t Looking: Connect the Dots”. All items are from Tuesday, March 4 Atlanta Journal Constitution:

(1)    Page A9, Legislative Summary, bottom right column—Slums would now be called ‘blight’ House Bill 833 changes the language in the state’s community development programs related to incentives for cities/counties to recruit new employers to low income census tracts. Some criticism of cities/counties is the “slum” stigma placed by the state Urban Redevelopment Zone programs. URZ’s are intended to recruit to census tracts that would not attract private investment otherwise. Regardless, Alpharetta, Roswell and Sandy Springs have had Urban Redevelopment Zones for several years—For your consideration: Govt incentive expansion/attractiveness to citizens; Intercity competition

(2)    Metro Section, Page B3, County By County, “Dekalb” section, middle of column—Construction starts on old DeVry property (East Decatur) The VA will build a specialty care outpatient clinic. The City of Decatur had once had plans for a “mini-downtown” and was to incent revitalization. Property owned by Greenstone Properties (see development type) http://www.greenstone-properties.com/mixed-use-land-development For your consideration: market trends vs expections; nontaxable property; public finance

(3)    Metro Section, Page B4— Clayton ponders aid to hospital May 20 referendum to use a continued SPLOST for Emory Healthcare operated Southern Regional Medical Center. Most of the revenue would be used to retire bonds, but a revenue shortfall due to increases in “nonpayers” is where the urgency comes from. For your consideration: Emory Health expansion, Use of Sales Taxes, demographic and healthcare trends, municipal trends

What you likely would have focused on from the March 4 Atlanta Journal Constitution are two dominant items, the Metro lead articles: Velvet Club shooting in our own North Central DeKalb backyard and “good government” groups asking the City of Atlanta to renegotiate its deal with the Atlanta Falcons to use hotel/motel taxes to underwrite a new football stadium.

I hope to continue doing these once a week.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

lawson aldridge March 05, 2014 at 09:18 PM
As to your last sentence- please don't .
RandyRand March 07, 2014 at 09:08 AM
Interesting idea Tom, I would appreciate hearing a little more of your thoughts on why these stories matter or how things could have been done differently as some extra flavoring. The idea that in these stories, there is more than the hype, exploring even cursory causes or effects on our area that could easily be missed in our highly desensitized society, is I think a worthwhile endeavor!
Tom Doolittle March 07, 2014 at 09:55 AM
Thanks for the invite from my invite Randy. The readers we have here are now sensitized to subjects related to formal jurisdictions, such as their ability to plan, financially underwrite and market their areas for development. However, understanding what that looks like and comes about (or doesn't) takes some exercise. A conversation about items such as those above would be such an exercise. For example: in the throws of a cityhood conversation we say "redevelop Northlake". What visage is in people's minds as to how that might come about and the product look like--and is that visage based on yesterdays economy or one that understands the changes that have and will take place in the conditions underlying that development? Ex: how much of the visage is based on so-called "commercial" development--and further, "retail"? The item above about the re-use of the DeVry property hinges on that question--now going to a government healthcare operation--rather than mixed-use city center--why? Connecting to the recent announcments of Radio Shack and Staples closing thousands of stores gives us clued. So what indeed would "redevelop Northlake" really mean? Most folks think "Northlake" refers to a mall and haven't even made the leap that it might mean a district that could be made to define an area that traverses three or four interstate interchanges. Then, add "improve" the mall--when what is more likely it would be "all or nothing" densification to create enough of its own critical mass of consumers--and it wouldn't be "retail" per se--nor any more than 1/3 "commercial". In fact, based on a Central Dekalb trend that has government uses filling commercial vaccums--it would likely have healthcare, federal contractors, Emory campus facilities, local govt departments and even keep some county units--it would have center grrenspace and meeting space. Then, when people say local government can attract all of this--do they understand what that means in terms of not just "allowing" the density, but indeed "promoting" it. If our future is based on government change and that is based on "expectations", its best we have a "minds eye" what that looks like and its complexities.


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