Doraville Mayor Ray Jenkins protested a city councilman’s claim that Doraville isn’t prepared to manage redevelopment of its shuttered General Motors plant.
City Councilman Bob Roche told The Champion this month Doraville wasn’t equipped to negotiate with New Broad Street, an Orlando development company that recently agreed to purchase the 165-acre site after more than 18 months of negotiation. He said he’s urged fellow council members to hire a development planner as it anticipates and pushes for a wave of redevelopment that city officials hope will push the city beyond its industrial past.
Jenkins said Feb. 15 he thought calls for a new planner were ill-timed and negative.
“(Roche) is completely negative,” he said. “I don’t see any reason to say anything negative until we really know if they’re going to buy it. They have a contract, yes. That don’t mean anything.”
General Motors officials may make their first post-sale visit to Doraville within two weeks Jenkins said.
In other plant news, the Atlanta Regional Commission gave the city $100,000 to help plan the redevelopment, which will be the largest urban, brownfield redevelopment in state history, city officials said. The city’s study will focus on developing solutions to address land use, development patterns, transportation circulation and economic development.
“This is great news, and the timing could not be any better,” Jenkins said.
The grants, given to Atlanta area local governments yearly, help recipients design plans that better link transportation improvement with land use strategies, according to the commission. Once plans are completed, those governments are eligible for a larger pot of federal dollars for their projects.
The grant program was created in 1999 to help local governments reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality by better connecting homes, shops and offices, enhancing streetscapes and improving transit options. The commission has awarded more than $141 million similar grants to 107 local governments this year.
The plant has been vacant since GM shut it down in September 2008. Many city officials are looking for science- and technology-oriented industries to flourish in Doraville.
The plant site had become the center of controversy in October after residents learned of the county’s intention to possibly build a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons there. The Doraville City Council voted unanimously Oct. 19 to oppose the construction of a new stadium. The vote followed a town hall meeting where city officials said residents overwhelmingly protested the presence of a stadium because of the excess traffic it would attract, among other development issues.