Northlake boom continues with talk of performing arts, convention center

A map showing the Northlake area of Tucker. Image obtained via Google Maps

Tucker, GA — It was a night of big ideas at Tucker City Council on May 24, as the work session and special called meeting included ideas for a performing arts and convention center in Northlake and road improvement plans near Tucker High School.

In recent months, development in Northlake has exploded with commercial development, a new Emory Healthcare facility and residential proposals. Fairfield Residential is nearing its finish of The Reid at 2190 Northlake Parkway in Tucker. A one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment is listed starting at $1,520 per month.

Now the area could be expanding to include a 3,000-seat performing arts center, a 65,000-sq. ft. convention center, hotel, upscale grocer, 800 residential units and 127,000-sq. ft. of commercial space – encompassing the WSB radio tower.

Urban Land Institute (ULI) leadership class, a group of professional real estate and land use experts, presented plans for Tower Park at Henderson Mill Road and LaVista Road.

“We have affectionately renamed the site, currently known now as Northlake Festival with the center being the tower that this site has been so well known for over the many, many years,” said Chantell Glenn of ULI, embracing the WSB radio tower which stands on a ground lease until 2057.

The goal is to transform 38-acres of empty big-box stores and a sea of parking lots into a pedestrian-friendly communal destination that provides news jobs and housing. ULI said the property will not require a major change in zoning, but it may need some Special Land Use Permits.

David Lintott, senior associate at TSW architect firm, demonstrated a plaza that can be shut down to vehicles, allowing for large events like open markets and movie screenings.

Councilmember Anne Lerner said, “I really appreciate you embracing [the tower] and having fun with it. We can’t wait until everything is perfect to start putting these things into place.”

In April, Discover DeKalb announced a market analysis and feasibility study for a convention center in DeKalb County, likely in Northlake. Two council members and Mayor Frank Auman will meet next week with Discover DeKalb on the subject.

Tucker City Engineer Ken Hildebrandt delivered several options to address traffic flow at the “Tucker Triangle,” the intersection of Fellowship Road, LaVista Road and Chamblee Tucker Road. In the heart of the city, Hildebrandt said the intersection has a high accident rate. No votes were taken.

Georgia Department of Transportation must be consulted to make changes to LaVista Road, which is owned by the state of Georgia. Last month, council members heard plans for Chamblee Tucker Road safety improvements.

Tucker Director of Finance Robert Porche presented the first read of Tucker’s FY22 budget. The total FY22 budget is $29.1 million, comprised of $16.2 million General Fund, $5.2 million in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) money and $6.6 million of Capital Projects.

Three hundred businesses in Tucker are delinquent on paying taxes, said Porche, which was due in April.

“We’re working delicately to bring them into compliance with code enforcement,” said Porche.

“This budget reflects the priorities of not only mayor and council, but of the community as outlined in our comprehensive master plan,” said City Manager Tami Hanlin. A second read of the budget is scheduled for June 14.

Council unanimously approved an additional $5,765 for the new fitness court for Church Street Park, due to an increase in the price of steel. Parks and Recreation Director Rip Robertson said the equipment will be installed by the end of summer. Council also approved the construction of a 250-foot boardwalk for $145,700 at Probst Park. It will replace two rotting bridges.

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