Beer, burgers, football on a big screen, lawn games and a DJ spinning party favorites will all be part of an all-day community tailgate party on Oct. 19 in Dunwoody Village. The new, free event is part of an effort by some community activists to show support for city-backed efforts to find new ways to transform the Village into a true city center.

The Dunwoody Community Tailgate runs from 1 to 11 p.m. and will be held on the lawn area lined with oak trees adjacent to Marlow’s Tavern and Karen Cannon Realtors at 1317 Dunwoody Village Parkway. Regency Centers, a national company, owns the shopping center.

“This is about looking at something we take for granted [and seeing it] in a new way,” said Alan Mothner, owner of consulting firm Town Square Collaborative and former executive director at the Dunwoody Nature Center.

“I’ve never noticed that green space before, but we can easily get 200 people on there … and I hope the community comes out and shows how interested they are in making the Village an active place for adults, families and the community to recreate,” he said.

Because the lawn is on private property, Mothner said he and city officials asked Marlow’s, Karen Cannon Realtors and Regency if they would be interested in opening their space for a public event. All readily agreed, Mothner said.

Mothner said the initiative to hold a tailgate is just one way to “activate” the Dunwoody Village Overlay located at the crossroads of Mount Vernon Road and Chamblee-Dunwoody Road.

The mayor and City Council for more than a year have been looking for ways to update the look of the Village, known for its many businesses and restaurants designed in a Williamsburg-style architecture. While the shopping centers are filled with tenants, council members say they consistently receive complaints from citizens that the Village, supposed to be the “heart” of the city, is outdated and not welcoming for community events due in part to vast surface parking lots.

The lawn area adjacent to Marlow’s Tavern and Karen Cannon Realtors on Dunwoody Village Parkway will become the site of a community tailgate on Oct. 19. (Google Earth)

A rewrite of the Dunwoody Village Overlay zoning, first approved in 2011, is now underway as many residents say they want more walkability, less surface parking and more green spaces in the Village. Much of the more than 100-acre Dunwoody Village Overlay area is privately owned, so getting buy-in from companies like Regency is key, according to city officials.

“With Regency, a lot of people perceive them as an obstacle … but they seem to be an agent of change,” Mothner said.

Regency representatives will be at the tailgate to listen to what people want to see in the Village. Andre Koleszar, senior vice president/market officer for Regency Centers, said his company and the tenants are looking forward to highlighting the Dunwoody Village Parkway green space during the tailgate. He said Regency is interested in working with the city to find ways to realize its vision for the area.

“As things progress and plans are unveiled, we look forward to being part of any conversation about the area’s future and how a public-private dialogue can work together to attain that goal,” Koleszar said in an email.

Mothner said he hopes residents will bring their own lawn chair and blankets to watch the University of Georgia Bulldogs versus Kentucky Wildcats game and other games. Marlow’s will  have a special tailgate menu and an outdoor bar selling a signature cocktail and craft beer.

Those not interested in football can compete in cornhole or giant Jenga lawn games. Mothner said he hopes people will take the chance to make the lawn area a “home base” while they walk to the different shops and restaurants in the immediate area.

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