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Mobility Issues Prompting The Creation Of Atlanta's Newest CID

Big property owners in two cities on the edge of Atlanta's urban core are joining forces to help keep things moving as development sprouts around them.

View of Peachtree Boulevard heading north in Chamblee toward Interstate 285

The cities of Doraville and Chamblee are expected to approve the formation of the Chamblee-Doraville Community Improvement District. Doraville City Council officials approved the measure May 20. Chamblee council members will vote on the proposal May 21.

The CID will be the metro area's 28th CID formed since 1985, when the state passed the law allowing for their formation. CIDs are self-taxing districts in communities where business and commercial landowners voluntarily pony up more property taxes to fund capital projects and local staffers in the neighborhood.

Former Cumberland CID Executive Director Malaika Rivers, who is now a principal with Lexicon Strategies, assisted the group of business executives and local leaders in pushing through the CID's creation.

“If you think about the metro area this way, the Chamblee-Doraville area is sort of the last intown ... area that does not have a CID,” Rivers said.

Organizers received approval from 54 property owners who represent 75% of the value of the commercial land in the two cities, according to documents from the city of Chamblee, reaching the required threshold for the creation of a CID.

Once established, the CID will be allowed to tax a portion of their overall property values to create a revenue pool for projects. Rivers said the group could raise more than $800K in the first year. The Reporter Newspapers reported earlier this year the CID could raise upward of $2M annually beyond that.

Once established, officials with both Chamblee and Doraville will be able to appoint members of the board, which is slated to happen later this summer.

Lexicon Strategies partner Malaika Rivers

The planning group for the CID, known as the Peachtree Gateway Partnership, is a who's who of the Chamblee and Doraville business and development community, including Pattillo Industrial Real Estate CEO Larry Callahan, Seven Oaks Co. founder Bob Voyles, Ed Voyles Automotive Group CEO Valery Voyles and Jim Ellis Automotive Group President Jimmy Ellis.

The new CID has a wish list of projects to raise funds to tackle, including sidewalk improvements and new multi-use trails. All the plans have a singular focus: improving mobility along the two main corridors traveling through both cities, Peachtree Boulevard and Buford Highway, Ellis said.

With development pushing out toward Chamblee and Doraville from the city, stakeholders need to make sure transportation and access is a focus for the CID, said Ellis, who owns 10 car dealerships along Peachtree Boulevard.

“We have to pay attention to that, otherwise we're going to have all this vertical development in the area and it's going to kill the mobility," he said.

Ellis, who chaired the CID organizing group, said the first priority of the CID will be to hire a consultant to develop a transit and transportation improvement plan that will guide CID projects going forward.

CIDs are increasingly becoming a popular vehicle for business and community leaders to use to help shape infrastructure projects, especially smaller initiatives that the state's transportation department may not prioritize.

In the first 22 years after the CID law passed, 11 such groups formed. Since 2010, 16 have been established, said Taylor Morison, the director of policy and government affairs at the Council for Quality Growth. Existing metro CIDs have raised more than $1.5B in tax revenues that helped spur more than $5B in infrastructure work.

“The growth of CIDs has absolutely taken off,” Morison said. “Most basically, it provides an avenue … to focus on projects that they believe will provide the most return on investment.”

Atlanta's bigger CIDs certainly help spearhead projects that can benefit big developments. The Cumberland CID leveraged millions in infrastructure improvements for the new Atlanta Braves stadium and surrounding mixed-use complex known as The Battery. Since its opening, The Battery has lured retailers and companies to its confines, including the North American headquarters for ThyssenKrupp Elevators.

Pattillo helped develop Trackside-Chamblee along with Parkside Partners, and moved its headquarters to the development. Callahan, the company's CEO, said Doraville and Chamblee are “absolutely primed” for even more dense and intensive development.

The cities are a natural extension north from Buckhead for real estate investors and the areas are experiencing a rejuvenation, he added.

“The momentum is going to keep going in that direction,” Callahan said. “That's what this CID is doing. It's helping to guide the future of this area.”