It would appear that the engines may finally be starting at the Assembly Doraville site in…you guessed it…Doraville.
It seems like years ago (well actually, it was April, 2015) since the Master Plan was presented to the public and the Doraville City Council and Planning Commission for what would become of the 165-acre (give or take a few acres depending on who you ask) that was the site of the General Motors Assembly plant that closed in 2008. In fact, the site was purchased in 2014 by the Integral Group….so it HAS been years.
Integral presented some grand plans of how they plan to redevelop the site. But those plans all hinged on a Tax Allocation District (TAD) with the Dekalb County School Board. Keep in mind, the site was a manufacturing plant, and needs all the infrastructure you don’t think about to develop it. Streets, sewer, power, water. All of that needs to be brought into the site. A massive undertaking to say the very least. But while the developer placed all their “eggs in one basket” with a TAD, they did not work on any Plan “B” should a TAD not work. Well….a TAD did not work. Dekalb County Schools said they wanted to part of such a real estate investment. (Side note — the photo in that article about the School Board gives you a really good idea of just how HUGE the site really is.)
They finally worked up Plan B, and I won’t even begin to start on how complicated it is…but it happened, and back in June, 2017, the developer finally secured some $50M in bond financing to begin work on the aforementioned infrastructure. As you can imagine, without roads, and sewer and water and power….there can’t be any buildings.
There actually HAS been development…around the site…on land SOLD off from the main site. It would appear such purchasers had the funds available to develop their said purchase and as a result, out came the Asbury Automotive Group’s Nalley Infinity and Nissan dealerships with their signature “car towers.” This sale and subsequent development sent the residents of Doraville into an uproar as Assembly Doraville have long been talked about being a “transit-oriented development” (TOD) with a MARTA station almost next to it. And the first thing to be built were two car dealerships. Ugh. And came a movie studio, Third Rail Studios. And now, Serta Simmons is building their corporate headquarters. All of these on parcels of land that were carved off, and sold.
On the map below, I’ve drawn some colored lines to help you with what’s happening. The red area is the location of the auto dealerships. The blue area is the location of Third Rail Studios. The smaller black area is the location of Serta Simmons building. And the other black circled area is called the “Assembly Yards” and is where the current infrastructure work is going, and then most likely the location of the recently announced 400,000 sq. ft. of tenants that have expressed an interest. The area will hopefully include some sort of restaurants,including a brew pub, and a 200 unit apartment building is currently in the permitting stage with the City of Doraville’s Planning Department. The big YELLOW elephant is about 100 acres.
That area, as you can see from the map, shows streets, a large park surrounded by buildings along with various streets. Again, all of this is currently concrete left from the flooring of the GM Assembly Plant. It’s one site being promoted as a potential for Amazon’s HQ2. However, the site still lacks direct connectivity to the Doraville MARTA station. It’s ONLY 13 railroad tracks from the site, and some $50M to build the Park Avenue covered street connection to the site. Not sure if Amazon is such a big player they will foot this bill, or that having a tenant like Amazon will give the developer the needed push to get additional bond financing to construct this vital transit connection to the site.
But, at least the engine appears to have started. Now…to keep it running.