News & Press Releases

New DeKalb County Development Opportunity Sites Inventory GIS Tool Launches With Major Emphasis on Brownfields

(DeKalb County, Georgia, July 5, 2023) Identifying abandoned and underutilized land due to pollution from industrial use will be much easier in DeKalb County because of the new Geographical Information System (GIS) tool which launched on the county’s website today. The new database is a collaboration between Decide DeKalb Development Authority and Commissioner Robert Patrick, presiding officer of the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners, who allocated $30,000 in Commission District 1 funds for the GIS tool.

Designed with real estate developers in mind, the GIS tool emphasizes available sites, blighted areas and land in DeKalb that is ready for redevelopment as well as brownfield locations that need remediation.

“Decide DeKalb is thrilled to finally have an all-encompassing inventory system that identifies available sites ready for development in the county,” said Dorian DeBarr, president of Decide DeKalb. “Developers now have the ability to research brownfield sites – and hopefully redevelop these special sites – that perhaps may not have been on their radar otherwise. Every time a brownfield site is redeveloped it’s a win for residents because it enhances our community and quality of life for everyone.”

Brownfields are former business and industrial sites that may pose risks to public health from exposure to hazardous chemicals. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the Brownfields Economic Redevelopment Initiative in 1995 to encourage communities to restore brownfield sites. The level of contamination at brownfield sites varies greatly, though there is usually contaminated soil or building materials present.
Pullman Yards, Assembly Atlanta, and East Decatur Greenway are notable DeKalb brownfields that have been remediated and brought back to life with funds from Decide DeKalb’s Revolving Loan Fund through the EPA. Over the last five years, Decide DeKalb has been awarded $4.2 million to oversee this brownfield work.

DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond said the brownfields project responds to an often-repeated plea from developers and investors for help in clearing unforeseen regulatory hurdles and is also a common-sense use of taxpayer resources. “In my view, this is a win-win-win,” said Thurmond. “The development community has an easily accessible resource for potential projects and what challenges they may present; the citizens of DeKalb County will see potentially hazardous properties assessed, cleaned up and redeveloped; and – most of all – the environment is better for everyone who lives, works and plays in DeKalb County.”

Cleaning up and redeveloping brownfields helps the environment and contributes to sustainability efforts in a few ways. Turning brownfields into productive projects may help alleviate pressure to build on untouched green spaces. It also replenishes land, helping it to thrive and return to a more natural state.

Commissioner Patrick said, “There is no question this tool will have a huge impact on DeKalb County which is why I championed its creation. Along with Decide DeKalb, I want to advance meaningful development and revitalization in the county. We know this tool will lead to a greener, more sustainable DeKalb County.”
About Decide DeKalb

Decide DeKalb serves as the primary arm of economic development and job growth for DeKalb County, Georgia. DeKalb has a diverse population of 760,000 and is home to part of the City of Atlanta as well as the cities of Decatur, Dunwoody, Chamblee, Pine Lake, Stone Mountain, Stonecrest, Lithonia, Doraville, Brookhaven, Clarkston, Avondale Estate, and Tucker. Eighty percent of all movies filmed in Georgia are filmed in DeKalb County, home to Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2022, Decide DeKalb facilitated $705 million new investments and 6,300 in new and retained jobs.

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Media Contact: Terra Washington | [email protected] | 404.277.5958