For several years, there has been no shortage of
ideas when it comes to revamping and (hopefully) revitalizing Emory
Village; the only thing in short supply was cash. Not anymore.
In late May the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) decided to make
the renovation of Emory Village eligible for funds under its Livable
Centers Initiative, and just like that some $2.2 million over the
next two years was made available to study, design and implement
improvements to public spaces at the University’s front gate.
Though the funds actually will be awarded to DeKalb County, any
work will be contracted through the Alliance to Improve Emory Village
(AIEV). A consortium of University officials, Druid Hills neighbors
and village property owners, AIEV has since 1999 been sifting through
constituents’ opinions and commissioning expert analysis of
the best way to redesign the village and the five-pointed intersection
that has come to define it.
“This is highly significant,” said Davis Fox, AIEV chair.
“A year ago, we completed a master plan [for Emory Village],
a guide for future development.”
But that master plan, which calls for a mixed-use zoning area that
combines residential, retail and commercial spaces, still lacks
one major component: a workable redesign for the village intersection.
At a meeting in May 2002, AIEV received widespread enthusiasm for
a plan that would convert the busy and often dangerous intersection
into a traffic roundabout. With funding from the county, a temporary
roundabout in combination with a “road diet”—which
meant changing N. Decatur Road to one lane in each direction with
a center turn lane—was supposed to have been installed last
winter to study the reconfiguration’s effects, but that plan
was shelved, and Fox said a new computer model will enable AIEV
consultants to gauge a roundabout’s effectiveness using data
of traffic volume and patterns.
“We decided [the mockup] was not the best way,” Fox
said. “Unless you spent a tremendous amount of money, the
temporary roundabout would have had some compromises to it, and
those compromises would have affected safety and to a certain extent
traffic flow. And safety is what we’re trying to fix in this
Emory officials who sit on AIEV’s board are not convinced
a roundabout would work. Facilities Management’s Hector Morales
and Jen Fabrick, capital program manager and director of campus
planning, respectively, are concerned the traffic volume is too
high for a roundabout to handle.
“It won’t work without the road diet,” Fabrick
said, admitting she is skeptical about a roundabout’s feasibility.
“I still don’t understand how it can be pedestrian-safe
during the critical hours of the day—which are also car rush
Fabrick said she would withhold final judgment until she sees the
results of the computer modeling, which will be conducted by the
national consulting firm URS.
The ARC money is split into two grants: $192,000 to be allocated
in fiscal year 2004 for design work, and $2 million in FY05 for
implementation. Both grants require a 20 percent match, which Fox
said DeKalb County already has agreed to provide.
Once a reconfiguration is agreed upon and improvements are made
to the intersection, Fox said he expects development to quickly
“We’re getting a lot of phone calls from developers,”
said Fox, a Druid Hills resident and commercial realtor for Coldwell
Banker. “If you make significant improvements to the public
infrastructure and environment in the village, private property
owners will realize there’s a new economic incentive for them
to do something.
“It won’t happen overnight,” he said, “but
we’re confident that over a period of time the village will
evolve into what the master plan envisions.”