City Council hires Stantec Architecture to assess site for new transit facility


Zulfiqar Ahmed

DeKalb mayor Cohen Barnes at the Aug. 23 City Council meeting.

By Elisa Reamer

DeKALB — DeKalb City Council passed a resolution 7-0 Monday to hire Stantec Architecture Inc. for $264,000 to assess and plan for a maintenance and transit facility after a similar resolution failed in April. 

Mayor Cohen Barnes said Dresser Road is the ideal location for the new transit facility because the city already owns the property and it’s a large area. The facility is close to Annie Glidden North, which has a large population that will use the services. 

“All the things that go with the selection of a site for a transit facility which, in our estimation, talking to Stantec and others, is somewhere around a 15-acre proposition for a community our size and for the bus operation we have now, what we project to have in the next three, four years,” City Manager Bill Nicklas said. “There will be plenty of indoor space for them to be stored and also repaired.”

In April, many council members voiced their opposition to the site’s location on Dresser Road due to it being close to a neighborhood and the DeKalb High School. 

First Ward Alderperson Carolyn Morris was most concerned about how that area is one of the few spaces that actually has trees in DeKalb, which makes it easy for people to walk and bike around. She said this would not greatly affect her vote, so she was still for the resolution. 

This project may require the City of DeKalb to apply for a $12 million state grant for architectural, engineering and construction costs, according to the Monday City Council agenda

“It was time for us to let them know that we want to do something,” Nicklas said. “So now we’re sort of halfway in. We will qualify for the $12 million fairly confidently, but if we don’t show progress toward finding at least a contractor or an engineering services firm to do this, then they’ll begin to wonder if we’re serious about this.” 

Approximately 15 of the 30 acres of the parcel situated between the DeKalb County Health Department and DeKalb High School will be used for the transit facility, according to the agenda

“We want to do something that looks good 10 years from now, 15 years from now,” Fifth Ward Alderperson Scott McAdams said. “We didn’t want to just rush in and do it because it made sense for today, but looking at it from a longer perspective, I’m going to vote yes on this because I want to do our due diligence to make sure that we are making the right choice for future generations.” 

DeKalb approves ordinance to buy Hunter Hillcrest property

DeKalb City Council also passed an ordinance to purchase Hunter Properties’ building 1011-1027 Hillcrest Drive for $1.19 million. 

The approval follows an agreement made between the city and Hunter Properties, in which Hunter Properties has to sell four of their buildings within 3 ½ years due to numerous complaints and ordinance violations against Hunter Properties.

“Although progress takes a long time, we’re going to take the first and definitive step towards fixing the biggest problem in the city, and I urge my colleagues to vote yes on this matter,” McAdams said. 

The Hunter Hillcrest properties is a high-priority project noted in the 2018 Annie Glidden North Plan to provide shopping, services and other community amenities, according to the agenda

The property is about 33,000 square feet with nine commercial units on the first level and 14 apartment buildings on the second level. The city will demolish the building and provide resources to relocate existing tenants, according to the agenda. The demolition and relocation will be paid for using federal funds received through the American Recovery Act.