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“The idea of initiating a luxury mixed-use development in DeKalb may have been difficult for some to imagine.” The mixed-use, 10 acre-plus development on Covington Highway was dedicated on Nov. 11. It includes brownstones, condos and retail space.

Panola Slope to open in 2012 By Carla Parker

Panola Slope, a mixed-use development that stalled on Covington Highway in Decatur, is now on track to open in spring 2012. Atlanta-based APD Solutions, a neighborhood revitalization firm, hosted a dedication ceremony on Nov. 11 for the 10 acreplus development, located at 5600 Covington Highway. The development of 23 luxury brownstones, midrise condominiums, and more than 12,000 square feet of street-level retail space was originally constructed in 2007. Then it was called Dominiques Villas but was foreclosed on before it was completed. APD Solutions acquired it from the three banks that owned it and will complete the $5 million project. Vaughn Irons, APD Solutions CEO, said the company’s goal is to not only set the standard for distinctive urban living, but to demonstrate its commitment to DeKalb over the long haul. “The idea of initiating a luxury mixeduse development in DeKalb may have been difficult for some to imagine, but APD Solutions’ shared vision with the community makes this project special and will be the hallmark of our success,” he said. “We want Panola Slope to be the catalyst for making Covington corridor vibrant again.” In 2007, the development’s housing units were listed for $449,000. Irons said they now will be priced at $189,900 to $224,900. “We plan to reposition the asset to provide the same level of quality and luxury but at an affordable price. We call it ‘Luxability.’” The first phase of the three- and four-

bedroom brownstones includes 10-foot ceilings, upgraded lighting, hardwood floors and gourmet kitchens. A public square with an outdoor terrace, benches, fountains, a lighted walking trail, pocket parks and security patrol also is planned. Putt Guttz, a Savannah-based bakery, will be one of the first businesses to move in when the project is completed. Owner Sheree Campbell, who is now home-based, said accepting this opportunity was a no-brainer. “In today’s economy, it’s hard to get money for a store front,” she said. “I did it the hard way – going door to door basically. And it was successful, but I’m ready to get some structure and be in a place that I can call home.” The project is also an effort to revitalize the Hidden Hills area. Wendall Ervin, president of the Hidden Hills Civic Association, said he thinks the project will be a magnet. “It’s going to draw people who live in the community who won’t have to go to different counties and cities to get the goods and services they want,” he said. To commemorate the Nov. 11 dedication, a time capsule was planted on the property. In keeping with its 11-11-11 theme, the container was filled with 11 items including local newspapers, photos and a letter from Irons to future residents. The container will be opened on Nov. 11, 2022. Super District 7 Commissioner Stan Watson said revitalization efforts like Panola Slope can accelerate job growth and generate new revenue. “Eleven years from today, this time capsule will serve as a reminder of our collective efforts to transform this community into a thriving urban oasis.”

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State’s jobless rate dips in October The state’s unemployment rate dipped to 10.2 percent in October as Georgia added 26,500 jobs. However, there was an increase in firsttime claims for unemployment insurance benefits statewide. Initial filings for benefits also rose in DeKalb County. The seasonally adjusted jobless rate declined to 10.2 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from 10.3 percent in September, as well as from October a year ago. The rate dropped because Georgia added 26,500 jobs, up seven-tenths of a percentage point to 3,818,800 from 3,792,300 in September. While growth came in several sectors, 12,200 of the jobs occurred from early hiring in retail, transportation and warehousing as employers prepared for the holiday season. Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said the state doesn’t usually see a spike in retail hiring in October. “However, even though this is a good sign, we will be cautiously watching the hiring trends from now until the end of the year,” he said in a Nov. 17 statement.

Job growth also occurred in professional and business services, educational and health services, and leisure and hospitality. But the number of jobs in Georgia remained 32,600, or nine-tenths of a percentage point, below Mark Butler October of last year. In DeKalb, first-time claims for UI benefits rose to 3,557 from 3,428 in September, up 129 or 3.8 percent. There were 3,934 initial claims in October 2010 for an over-the-year decrease of 377 or 9.6 percent. Statewide, the number of first-time claims rose to 55,865, up 4,598, or 9 percent, from 51,267 in September. Most were filed in manufacturing, administrative and support services, and construction. There was an over-the-year decrease of 1,629 claims, or 2.8 percent, from 57,494 in October 2010. October is the 51st consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national jobless rate, which is 9 percent. For more information, visit www.dol.state.ga.us.

CW Price now in Belvedere Plaza Discount retailer CW Price opened in Belvedere Plaza to fanfare and a queue of eager customers earlier this month. District 3 Commissioner Larry Johnson was on hand for the Nov. 1 ribbon cutting along with store manager Darren Holloman and district manager Dean Stead as the New York-based retailer Larry Johnson opened for business in the building formerly occupied by AJ Wright on Memorial Drive. “We welcome CW Price to the community and I am glad to see that the Georgia Department of Labor, who has worked

with the CW Price Co. on providing the work force, has ensured that the sales associates are from the area close to the store,” Johnson said. “This makes a difference – employees who work in the community have a vested interest in the community and a personal goal of ensuring that their store is one of the best.” More than 100 people were waiting in line for the clothing and home goods store to open in Decatur. Johnson said the store was part of the ongoing revitalization of Memorial Drive. “It began with Aldi’s, followed by Walmart, and the plaza underwent a face lift and added the Hibachi Grill, and we also have SunTrust Bank coming to the community,” Johnson said.

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November 19, 2011

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