Interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May hopes to create a mega Community Improvement District (CID) to help bolster economic development and improvements in South DeKalb.
The 39-mile mega South DeKalb CID would include commercial property stretching from the area near the Mall at Stonecrest in DeKalb’s far east to Gresham Road in South DeKalb. The proposed CID includes about 1,250 commercial property owners and $1.385 billion in property value. The South DeKalb CID would join the Perimeter CID, Stone Mountain CID and DeKalb’s newest self-taxing area, the Tucker CID.
May said he and DeKalb Commissioners Larry Johnson and Stan Watson have appointed representatives to a planning board that will begin working on the mega CID this month. Doreen Carter, a former Lithonia City Council member and president of the Greater Lithonia Chamber of Commerce, has been tapped to lead the 7-member planning board.
A CID study that Johnson initiated for Wesley Chapel Road in South DeKalb served as the catalyst for the proposed mega CID, May said.
He said the DeKalb Development Authority is providing $120,000 in seed money for the formation of the mega CID, which would include Wesley Chapel.
The money will be used to hire a firm to do the strategic plan, marketing and other work needed for the formation of the special taxing district.
May said he is excited about the creation of the new CID because it would enable South DeKalb to leverage additional funding for infrastructure.
“I’m excited because it will put us in a position to go after federal and state grants for improvements and bring businesses and jobs to the area,” May said. “A CID is a very attractive tool for attracting businesses to an area because businesses know the area will have amenities such as sidewalks, street lights, additional security and landscaping.”
May pointed to the Perimeter CID, where well-landscaped gateways mark the entrance and exit ramps at I-285 and Ashford-Dunwoody Road, as examples of improvements made and maintained by a CID.
May said the I-20 Turner Hill Road gateway near The Mall at Stonecrest will be improved much the same way as the Ashford-Dunwoody Road ramps. May announced in November the Turner Hill Road exit is one of seven gateways that will get a stone monument and robust landscaping under a $1 million spending plan that includes landscaping and routine cleanup of 35 roads. County officials say the gateway improvements at I-20 Turner Hill and Candler Road should be visible by March. The other five gateway enhancements will be done later at I-285 at Memorial Drive, Bouldercrest Road and LaVista Road; I-85 and North Druid Hills Road; and U.S. 78 at Mountain Industrial Boulevard.
May said with a South DeKalb CID in place, the tax-funded district could maintain the gateways as an ongoing project.
“It would remain attractive at all times because the district would maintain it. The attractiveness of an area is what draws business to it,” Lee said. “Just as the Perimeter CID, Stone Mountain CID and the Tucker CID exist as economic engines for those areas, we’re looking to do the same thing with the mega CID.”
CID improvement projects run the gamut—from providing streetscapes, landscaping and police security to sidewalks, parking and enhanced public transportation.
Mays said meetings with be held beginning in January and February with commercial property in the proposed CID. In order for the CID to be created, more than 50 percent of commercial property owners must decide to impose a self-tax to operate the district.
“They will have an opportunity to learn more about it through the series of meetings that will be held,” May said.