County gets funding

By Billy Corriher

Clayton County received an $80,000 grant Wednesday from the Atlanta Regional Commission to study a redevelopment project for northwestern Clayton County. The Livable Centers Initiative study will consider redeveloping the area to include a mix of housing, recreational and commercial development, as well as entertainment, education and transportation facilities.

The study area is generally bounded by Phoenix Boulevard and Sullivan Road on the north, the county border on the west, Flat Shoals Road on the south, and the Riverdale Road corridor to the east.

Economic Development Director Emory Brock said the county wanted to focus on this area because it had been most impacted by the new construction at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and it had a lot of potential for development.

"There is a market there now for quality residential and office space," he said. "And, when the airport finishes the new (international) terminal, we've got a lot of potential for large scale markets like hotels."

Though no specific plans are in place yet, Brock said the LCI project would preserve some neighborhoods and consider others for redevelopment. When the airport's fifth runway is finished, Brock said air traffic will increase and air cargo businesses will need much more space.

"It's going to be hard to accommodate all that space and maintain the integrity of the area," he said. "Some of the project areas need the type of development that would stabilize the neighborhoods."

The LCI plan will also feature more transportation projects to give the airport and area residents more options for travel, including mass transit and sidewalks for pedestrians.

"The transportation projects are all about connectivity," Brock said.

Robert LeBeau, principal planner for the Atlanta Regional Commission, said funding for the project was approved because the proposal met the commission's goals, contributing matching funds of $20,000 and having a public involvement process for the project.

"We want these ideas to come from the public," he said.

LeBeau said the commission also thought the project was important because of its proximity to the airport.

"(The study area) is adjacent to one of our largest regional assets," he said. "We thought it would be very important to get the most out of that asset."