The grants, which ranged from $24,000 to $120,000, were awarded to Medline Regional Activity Center around the medical center and the cities of Avondale Estates, Chamblee and Lithonia.
The Medline Regional Activity Center study focuses on the area around Suburban Plaza and DeKalb Medical and will plan for redevelopment of underutilized and vacant properties to create a variety of housing options and an appropriate mix of commercial, office and retail.
The study will incorporate Lifelong Communities concepts and the establishment of a “wellness district” for the DeKalb Medical area.
Commissioners Kathie Gannon and Jeff Rader, who have been working on the LCI project for more than two years, are pleased that DeKalb County received the grant, which will bring together residents, businesses and property owners to reach a consensus on future development and public improvements.
The study area includes portions of Scott Boulevard and North Decatur Road from Medlock Road to DeKalb Industrial Way as well as Church Street.
The commissioners applied for the LCI before Walmart announced its intentions to locate in Suburban Plaza.
Gannon said the study area, which includes the campus of DeKalb Medical, Suburban Plaza, Patel Plaza and nearly 30 acres of vacant car lots, is vastly underutilized.
“I believe this area can be successfully redeveloped for mixed-use developments that will bring new vibrancy and improve the quality of life for the surrounding residential areas,” said Gannon, the Super District 6 commissioner.
Rader said the area was developed as one of the region’s first suburban commercial corridors in the early 1970s, but its character has changed over the years.
“It is time to re-imagine and plan for the future development in this important gateway to Decatur and DeKalb,” Rader said.
The study, which will take nine to 12 months to complete, will have little, if any, impact on Walmart, but the redevelopment of Suburban Plaza may encourage additional retailers to be interested in the area.
The city of Lithonia, which completed an LCI grant in 2003, was awarded a $24,000 supplemental grant to create standards for streetscape designs and zoning code changes.
Mayor Deborah Jackson said this grant will help the city update its zoning ordinance to make it easier to understand and facilitate the type of development the community wants.
“We truly want Lithonia to be a live, work and play community that attracts a diverse population as well as respects the cultural heritage of the community,” Jackson said.
Avondale Estates was awarded $64,000 for a major plan update and a downtown master plan, while Chamblee got $80,000 for a 10-year major plan update.
The LCI program is funded with federal transportation dollars. Recipients provide a 20 percent match.
ARC Chairman Tad Leithead said LCI grants help metro communities “retool and redesign” to create more places that attract residents and businesses.
“Our local government partners have used these grants to the benefit of their communities and the entire region,” he said.
Since its inception in 1999, LCI grants have assisted 111 communities with more than $154 million in planning and implementation grants to devise strategies to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality by better connecting homes, shops and offices.
For more information, visit www.atlantaregional.com/lci.