The General Motors Doraville Assembly Plant opened in 1947. Back then, Buford Highway was a two-lane highway to almost parts unknown. Imagine, Lake Lanier was not created until 1956! It was just farmland and a community of African-Americans.
Fast forward to September 26, 2008, when the plant closed its doors for good. Thousands of employees were left without jobs. But there was immediate talk of the creation of a mixed-use, transit development…since there was a MARTA station just across the way. But, then came the housing bubble, a recession..and lots of weeds in the empty parking lots. And there it sat. And sat. Until finally, on September 24, 2014, a long six years after the plant closed, it was purchased by The Integral Group and Macauley + Schmidt. The developers hired top-notch designers Perkins Eastman and created a plan for Assembly Doraville that divided the massive 165-acre site into districts such as “The Yards,” “The Village,” “The Commons,” “The Campus” and “Main Street,” with overall plans to retain some of the industrial heritage of the site while providing for new live, work and play opportunities. Sadly, to the community of Doraville, the developer quickly sold 20 acres along the northern portion of the site to Asbury Automotive Group for the construction of a Nissan and Infiniti dealership. Not what the community was expecting from a transit-oriented development. (Side note, the Nissan dealership relocated from Peachtree Blvd in Chamblee, where as of 2018, a new apartment complex with street-level retail is currently under construction.) Demolition of the plant (no minor project mind you) started in January, 2015.
Plans for everything were based almost entirely on a tax allocation district (TAD) with DeKalb County Schools. When that failed to happen, the development again ground to a halt while the developers searched for another method of funding for the massive infrastructure development needed on the site (roads, water, sewer, power…it was after all a huge manufacturing plant, and now needs to be like a city). In August 2016, a complicated tax incentive along with a Community Improvement District (CID) were created to help gain the necessary funding to move the project forward. Two spin-off projects, Third Rail Studios which is completed and in full operation, and the development of the Serta Simmons headquarters campus are underway.
Here are some of the original development plans that have been presented for the Assembly Doraville site:
We’ll continue to add updates to this page about the continued development of the site.
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In 2017-2018, there has been much talk about the Assembly Doraville site as a potential site for the Amazon HQ2!