Good Growth Dekalb is a group of concerned citizens and neighbors who live in communities near Suburban Plaza, a 1960s shopping mall that’s been allowed to languish for over twenty years. There are some stores that have thrived despite the recent economic stress. Big Lots is the company’s most successful Atlanta location and Last Chance Thrift Store is beloved by many. Decatur Estate and Way Back Antiques does a good business and historic Onstage Atlanta has long attracted an audience in its theater space in the center.
AJC file. Suburban Plaza circa 1960.
The owner, Selig Enterprises, has found a willing tenant to anchor its proposed redevelopment; Walmart and a 149,000 square foot super-store. Neighborhood groups met earlier this fall to draw up non-binding concessions from the developer that other communities’ experiences suggest Walmart will never honor.
This is a plan from Selig with some concessions highlighted in red, courtesy of the Decatur Metro blog. Higher resolution here.
Good Growth Dekalb evolved out of many neighbors’ frustrations at questions that weren’t asked at any of the neighborhood association meetings, and a parking variance approval that went through without Dekalb county demanding any study, whether for the increased traffic or an environmental impact report. Since according to GADOT, over 70,000 vehicles travel Scott Blvd on a daily basis, an independent traffic impact study is one of the issues that GGD would like to address and the group hired a land use lawyer to investigate whether the county was remiss.
Last Saturday about 100 people marched in protest from Suburban Plaza to the Decatur Square. Musicians from the Atlanta Sedition Orchestra provided accompaniment. Press coverage included broadcasts from Channel 5 News and Channel 2, articles in the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the Avondale-Decatur Patch blog.
The Atlanta Sedition Orchestra plays for activism projects in Atlanta’s progressive community.
GGD’s mascot, the hard working Melanie Parker – who also writes our press releases.
WSB Channel 2’s Angelique Proctor interviews Brian Westlake, a resident in the area.
Fox News Channel 5 interviews Stacie Dixon, GGD’s fearless coordinator and the channel broadcast two clips of video on the event.
Decatur Mayor Bill Floyd spoke to the crowd and gave his support, although the city has no current jurisdiction over the Plaza.
State Representative and my neighbor Karla Drenner spoke to the crowd on Decatur Square, in support of GGD’s anti-Walmart stance and urged us to protest Senate Bill 469. The bill would make civil disobedience a felony in Georgia and is designed to weaken unions. Punishable by up to one year in jail, it would levy a fine of $1,000 on individuals and $10,000 on organizations. The bill passed the Senate on March 3.
A community forum was held on February 23 and the North Decatur Presbyterian Church auditorium was packed to standing room only with 300 people, some of whom spoke to the audience.
One resident reminded us that corporate greed is only secondary to our willingness to buy cheap goods. That habit has to break before we can have equitable and sustainable forms of commerce.
Thomas Wheatley’s Walmart Cometh presents both the pros and cons of big-box stores in his cover story that came out today in Creative Loafing.