Avondale Estates was anointed in January the latest recipient of the prestigious, nonexistent Golden Urby Chalice of Champions, and in several ways the DeKalb County city continues to prove the honor was no fluke.

As 2023 begins to wind down, Avondale Estates is moving forward with a Complete Street overhaul geared toward making its main commercial strip safer and a park-side development that aims to create vibrancy, while celebrating “prestigious” new credit ratings that lay a solid basis for continuing momentum, according to city leaders.

The Complete Street Project for U.S. Highway 278 (North Avondale Road/East College Avenue) aims to redo a five-lane highway and skinny sidewalk that pass Avondale Estates’ new Town Green and many of its most popular restaurants and shops.

Avondale Estates spokesperson Ellen Powell tells Urbanize Atlanta the project is out to bid now, with all proposals due from construction firms by Nov. 30.

Extent of the Complete Street project stretching from Sams Crossing, at left, to Ashton Place in Avondale Estates. Google Maps

The project calls for reducing the roadway to three lanes for roughly 1.15 miles. At the western end, the Complete Street would start at Sams Crossing near MARTA's Avondale station; from there, it would travel past the new park and through downtown, ending at Ashton Place.

Changes in between call for a 10-foot-wide path for pedestrians and bicyclists, upgraded traffic signals, a center median, landscape buffer, pedestrian and bike crossings, as well as road repaving and re-striping. (See a before/after slider depiction below).

“The new design will be more efficient, attractive, safer, and more accessible for cyclists and walkers,” Powell noted via email, “and will connect the historic neighborhood to downtown.” 

City documents stipulate the winning bidder must be able to complete the project within 18 months.

How a remade U.S. Highway 278 (North Avondale Road/East College Avenue) is expected to look and function through Avondale Estates' downtown area. Courtesy of Avondale Estates

In real estate development news, Powell says the park-adjacent, mixed-use project called The Dale is on pace to break ground in either December or January between the Town Green and future Complete Street.

The 24,000-square-foot joint venture between Healey Weatherholtz Properties and Fabric Developers calls for two adjacent buildings standing two stories each where North Avondale Road meets Lake Street.

The goal is to create a vibrant restaurant and retail row complementing the greenspace, next to a versatile open-air Market Pavilion space at the opposite corner.

How the North Avondale Road project is expected to face and interact with Avondale's Town Green. Fabric Developers/Healey Weatherholtz Properties

Lastly, on the municipal finances front, Avondale Estates officials announced this week they’ve earned “exceptional” credit ratings from Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s for the city’s anticipated $8.4 million Urban Redevelopment Agency Revenue Bonds Series 2023, which is being used to help repay costs of the Town Green and pavilion.  

Citing the city’s strong budget management, financial policies, and economic outlook, Moody’s assigned Avondale Estates an initial Aa1 general obligation unlimited tax rating, while Standard & Poor’s gave an AA+ rating with a stable outlook.  

Those scores make Avondale Estates the highest-rated small city (population less than 5,000) in Georgia by Moody’s and in the top 10 percent of ratings for small cities nationwide. The city also has the smallest tax digest and fifth smallest budget of all cities rated Aaa/Aa1 by Moody’s, according to city officials.  

In September, Avondale Estates also earned the No. 15 spot for the second year running in Opendoor’s list of the most Family-Friendly Cities in the country.