Brookhaven is starting to think big.
The City Council is preparing to embark on several major long-term planning projects, beginning with the Buford Highway Improvement Plan and Economic Development Strategy.
The city has also issued requests for qualifications for firms to conduct a comprehensive plan, a comprehensive transportation plan, and a parks and recreation master plan.
At the City Council’s Oct. 8 meeting, City Manager Marie Garrett announced that the city planned to hire the Jaeger Company to create a vision for the Buford Highway corridor.
“It will be almost like a mini comprehensive plan that specifically focuses on Buford Highway, looking at the current built environment and what improvements could be made in terms of serviceability, as to what their market share would be and customer radius to attract certain types of developments,” Garrett said. “Because Buford Highway runs parallel to I-85 and has great access to an interstate, it opens the door to many other uses.”
She said any number of recommendations may come out of the report, possibly to increase height and density restrictions. There will also likely be efforts to market the area to businesses for economic development.
Garrett said the report will be “first and foremost, an examination of the current built environment, and the status of that environment.”
Councilman Bates Mattison, the council’s ex-officio member of Brookhaven’s Development Authority, said the Buford Highway plan is a logical next step to the city’s apartment inspection program.
DeKalb County provided Brookhaven with $500,000 from its Community Development Block Grants to use toward inspecting and improving apartment buildings along Buford Highway.
The federal block grant funds allow the city to inspect one apartment building a week. Officials will be able to inspect all 72 apartment complexes in Brookhaven over an 18-month period.
The grant money is available for exterior renovations and repairs.
“I think that program is very unique. It has the stick of ‘Are you in compliance?’ but also the carrot of this pool of money,” Mattison said. “If you’re not, we’ve got access to funding to help bring your place up to speed.”
Mattison said despite grant funding available to make improvements to apartment complexes, some owners may choose to sell their properties rather than bring them into compliance with the city’s code.
As a result, Mattison said the city wants to have a vision for Buford Highway.
Mattison said he envisions “dynamic pedestrian paths” and other infrastructure upgrades in addition to the Georgia Department of Transportation improvements under way on Buford Highway.
“From an infrastructure standpoint, we’ve got tremendous potential,” Mattison said.
He said the goal is to improve the area without changing the fabric of the diverse, international community.
“We don’t want to go into a community that’s well established and appear to be shutting places down,” Mattison said.
Mattison said the study will take about four months to complete and will include many opportunities for community involvement.
“I think that Buford Highway is an unpolished gem of Atlanta,” Mattison said.
On Oct. 4, the city posted to its website a request for qualifications for a comprehensive plan, a comprehensive transportation plan, and a parks and recreation master plan.