Adaptive-reuse of existing structures to anchor new developments has become fairly commonplace, just look at Ponce City Market or the former industrial spaces of the Westside. But the use of a high-rise jail as housing for those who aren't incarcerated — and building a mixed-use development around it — just might set the bar for whacky, adaptive-reuse transformations if DeKalb County has its way. The AJC reports the county is proposing to create a new "Downtown DeKalb" surrounding the current county jail, going so far as to recommend moving the government offices currently in downtown Decatur to the site. The announcement comes on the heels of the decision last month that Atlanta United FC would build a practice facility on adjacent land. (Cue the shameless back-patting ...) We won't call ourselves clairvoyant, but we did surmise that this type of transformation could happen following the announcement.
DeKalb officials are dreaming big, seeking proposals for a convention center, concert hall, hotel, recreation complex and 20-story government office tower. And all of this could be constructed in the shadow of the four towers of the current DeKalb County Jail. The AJC article indicates that the almost one-million-square-foot building, towering 13 stories above the surrounding neighborhood, could potentially be converted to offices or apartments — if realized, these could likely be some of Atlanta's most unique residential units to hit the market. You've probably heard of downtown's The Office Apartments — but how about living at The Jail? No DUI required.
DeKalb inmates would be transferred to a new, low-security facility built next to Town Brookhaven ... okay, okay, we've kidding. If you've seen or heard legitimate plans for where the jail residents will actually go (screaming, possibly, "Damn you, gentrification!") please share that.
With architecture firms slated to submit master plans and contractors' preliminary bids due today, the transformation of the 150-acre site might not be that far off.