The words used to describe this piece of land have not been kind: A “sea of asphalt.” “Desolate.” “A black hole.”

It’s a bleak shopping center just outside the Perimeter in Doraville, but developers are hoping to change that. A largescale redevelopment could give new life to the property through a mix of retail and more than 300 apartments.

On the surface, it seems like a standard redevelopment project targeting another decades-old shopping center.

But to Doraville residents and city leaders, it’s much more.

For years, they said, development and urbanization along Peachtree Industrial Boulevard has skipped over Doraville, as nearby cities celebrated new high-budget projects. That has caused Doraville, a city of 10,500 that straddles I-285 in northern DeKalb County, to miss out on potential businesses and new residents, officials said.

“During the campaign in 2017, a lot of residents were coming out and saying, ‘Listen, why is it happening everywhere else? Why isn’t it happening here?’”

Councilman Robert Patrick said, referencing discussions he had while running for office. “This is our effort to say it’s happening here.”

The project, which the City Council could approve next month, targets the Village at Tilly Mill Crossing, previously known as Friday’s Plaza. The spacious center, coated in a mustard yellow paint, is currently less than 25% occupied with only five tenants, according to a memo filed with the city.

The developers, Kaufman Capital Partners and Atlantic Realty Partners, hope to demolish about 70% of the existing commercial space and replace it with two new buildings and a private street running between them. Most of the three- to five-story structures will consist of apartments, with retail and office space on the ground floor facing the street. The project could also add one acre of green space.

“We’re going to dramatically change the landscape,” said Garry Sobel, a senior vice president at Kaufman. “It’s going to provide a viable project that will provide a gateway to Doraville. We believe it’s Doraville’s time.”


>> Read more