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Emory Village: A Journey of Community Development and Placemaking

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Emory Village: A Journey of Community Development and Placemaking

A fountain in a park

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Photo of Emory Village Plaza – Courtesy of David Payne

Emory Village, a vibrant hub nestled in the heart of DeKalb County, has a rich history of community involvement and development. Over the years, it has evolved into a unique place that combines the charm of a village with the amenities of a modern community.

The creation of the Emory Village Zoning Overlay over a decade ago marked a significant milestone in the Village’s development. This zoning overlay was designed to guide development in a way that preserved the Village’s character while encouraging growth and improvement. However, as Emory Village continues to evolve, there is a growing need to amend the current overlay to better facilitate “placemaking” – the process of creating quality places that people want to be in.

David Payne, Emory Village Alliance board member and Associate Vice President of Emory University, reflects on this evolution, stating, “DeKalb County made significant investments in Emory Village that added the roundabout and streetscape improvements, but over the last 10 years since that investment, no meaningful new commercial development has occurred in the Village. Hopefully, the changes being contemplated to the Village zoning overlay will prompt this development.”

For the past ten years, the District 2 office has been a proud supporter of the Emory Village Alliance (EVA) and its annual Open Streets Emory Village street festival, an event that brings the community together for a day of fun and celebration and highlights the vibrant spirit of Emory Village.

Today, Commissioner Michelle Long Spears, the District 2 office, and EVA are advocating for changes to the Emory Village Overlay. These amendments aim to foster greater community involvement and development while preserving the unique village character that makes Emory Village so special.

One exciting development that Commissioner Spears has been actively supporting is the opening of SAVI market in the Village. Working closely with DeKalb’s Law department and Planning department, Commissioner Spears has been instrumental in facilitating the opening of this new business, which will be a wonderful addition to the Village.

In addition to supporting new business development, Commissioner Spears is also committed to environmental stewardship in Emory Village. She recently supported the “Clean Up the Creek” concert, an event held in the Village to support the creation of a Rainwater Garden at Peavine Creek, with a $5,000 allocation. This initiative aims to assist with rainwater management and erosion control, demonstrating a commitment to sustainable development in Emory Village.

Todd Hill, Chair of the Board at the Emory Village Alliance, appreciates this effort, noting, “Commissioner Spears knows the importance of establishing a harmoniously designed, safe and comfortable public realm to foster place making in public spaces. EVA is the volunteer entity that looks after the eleven-acre district to continuously improve the Village. All of us on the EVA Board are grateful for her leadership and engagement to strategize how to fund and implement our projects to improve and enhance Emory Village as the Living Room of Druid Hills.”

As Emory Village continues to grow and develop, maintaining the charm and character that make it unique is a key priority. As we look to the future, we are excited about its potential to be a place where people love to be. Emory Village can become more than just a place – it can become a community hub.


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