Dunwoody’s Development Authority agreed to issue a $160,000 forgivable loan to a new entertainment complex in the Dunwoody Village at its May 20 meeting.
The entertainment complex – which would include five new restaurants and a concert stage area – would be located at an empty courtyard in Dunwoody Village, a shopping and retail center at 1317 Dunwoody Village Parkway. The courtyard in question is next to a Fresh Market at 5515 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road.
The Development Authority is a government body that usually issues tax abatements for real estate projects, so this agreement is a little unique. According to Economic Development Director Michael Starling, the $160,000 goes towards furniture and equipment for the space. The authority’s attorney, Dan McRae, said that DASH Hospitality Group – the company receiving the loan – would only be responsible for paying back the loan at the end of 2023 if the complex does not produce a provable “public benefit.” That public benefit could include job creation or revenues from the new restaurants and commerce in the complex, according to the agreement.
“It’s set up so if the company performs, then they don’t pay back $160,000,” McRae said. “We don’t want $160,000. We want public benefit.”
The project is expected to occur over three stages. The first phase is set to finish in September of this year, according to the agreement, and includes adding a stage and the restaurant Bar(n), which will be a craft beer, wine and whiskey bar. The second phase is expected to finish by June of 2022, and includes adding a barbecue place called Morty’s Meat Supply and a Mexican restaurant called Cuco’s Cantina. The third stage is expected to finish by May of 2023 and includes adding a seafood restaurant called Message in a Bottle and a Mediterranean spot called Yoffi.
Authority member Jeff Ackemann said he was “bullish” on the success of the project, but expressed concern over what happens if the complex doesn’t succeed. David Abes of DASH Hospitality Group said he was confident the complex would take off.
“I’m not concerned about the people coming,” he said. “I’m not just going to open restaurants to open restaurants. I want to make sure I’m doing it timely. I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I want to do it right.”
According to the agreement, the authority will contribute $100,000 to the first stage, nothing to the second, and $60,000 to the third.
The courtyard is owned by the real estate investment company Regency Centers. McRae said it is up to DASH Hospitality to make arrangements with them as the landlord. Starling said Regency Centers is already preparing for the first round of renovations.