A plan to reinvigorate Downtown Decatur’s visitor experience that’s been cooking for three years has earned the DeKalb County seat’s official blessing.

Called “Decatur Town Center Plan 2.0,” the initiative marks Decatur’s first new masterplan for its core downtown area since 1982.

The plan generally calls for improving sidewalks and signage, adding a performance stage, and implementing more active spaces to open up the historic zone between the DeKalb County Courthouse, Decatur’s underground MARTA station, and landmark businesses such as Eddie’s Attic and Brick Store Pub.

Despite some concerns with the plan’s inclusiveness, the Decatur City Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved it, according to the AJC.

The effort to revamp Decatur’s downtown—to include removing the city’s blue-topped gazebo and refreshing its nearby MARTA bus station entrance—first emerged as an action item in the 2020 Decatur Strategic Plan.

According to renderings detailed in Town Center Plan 2.0 documents, as compiled by the city and its Downtown Development Authority, other new facets could include an interactive water feature, a John Lewis sculpture near the courthouse, public restrooms, and a restaurant or retail pavilion atop the city’s MARTA train station entrance.

An illustration showing sore spots in today's urban experience near Decatur's MARTA station and courthouse. City of Decatur/Decatur DDA

The plan for Decatur’s downtown revamp is being led by MKSK, a planning, urban design, and landscape architecture firm with offices across the eastern U.S., including in Atlanta, that specializes in reimagining urban spaces.

Luis Calvo, an MKSK senior associate, told meeting attendees Tuesday that Decatur’s downtown population is projected to nearly double by 2030, adding 3,000 new residents—the type of people who’d ostensibly appreciate more usable space in the central gathering place, as Atlanta’s News First relays.

Overview of planned changes that could come as part of the Decatur Town Center Plan 2.0. City of Decatur/Decatur DDA

According to city leaders, a planning team heard from “more than 1,000 Decatur voices” as part of a communal envisioning process that spanned the past 10 months.

Notes a city overview: “The overall process included three steering committee meetings, three community meetings, one public work session, 10 nontraditional community event pop-ups and gatherings, one online survey, an interactive online map, over 15 stakeholder interviews, and a downtown walking audit.”

City of Decatur/Decatur DDA

Nonetheless, a member of the Decatur Downtown Neighbors committee worried Tuesday the masterplan leans in favor of economic development at the expense of community development, while Commissioner Lesa Mayer warned against becoming “an elitist city” and suggested the plan include businesses such as an affordable grocery store benefitting people of varied socioeconomic backgrounds, per the AJC.

So far as we can tell, no estimated costs for the downtown project or construction timelines are outlined in the 164-page planning study. 

In the gallery above, find a closer look at what could be in store for Decatur’s celebrated downtown.


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