Kids Eat Free

30 05 2008

Frequent and long time Decatur Metro commenter “Decatur Mom” has started her own blog!  It’s actually a different DecaturMom!  Pardon my confusion!

What’s the URL? Well… of course!

From my own perusal of the site, it seems like she’ll be reporting on a little bit of everything Decatur, with a particular focus on kid-friendly activities/events. Definitely a topic worth covering in this kid-tropolis of a city!

In that spirit, Decatur Mom recently posted an informative day-by-day list of places around Decatur where kids eat free on weeknights. Click here to check it out!

Mmmm…mac and cheese…

Vinson Gallery Celebrates 10 Years

30 05 2008

One of Decatur’s longest standing galleries, Vinson Gallery, is celebrating its 10 year anniversary with a show featuring artists currently in the stable.

See the AJC feature from yesterday for the full story or listen to an in-depth interview below that gallery owner/founder Shawn Vinson gave to The Art Full Life radio show last month.  In it, you’ll learn even more about how Shawn started out in the gallery business and what drew him to Decatur Square.

h/t: InDecatur

Kickin’ It In Oakhurst

30 05 2008

For those that know Decatur quite well, its easy to overlook a neighborhood “video guide”. But this one, produced by DecaturNow for Oakhurst, is actually pretty entertaining and has good production value.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Plus, now I know where my favorite Brick Store bartender got off to…

When Publix Just Ain’t Enough

29 05 2008

I love fueling Trader Joe’s rumors.  It’s kinda become an unofficial past-time of mine.

Keeping all of that in mind, here’s an email thread (after the jump) that was passed along to me by Stuart, which claims that Trader Joe’s is looking around Decatur for its next Atlanta opening and expresses Avondale residents’ desire to get a Trader Joe’s somewhere in the “Avondale Estates/Decatur” area.

The Avondale email proposes use of the current Salvation Army store on E. College (who’s lease is up next year) for the next Trader Joe’s site.

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that the area 1. hasn’t turned around enough and 2. is too close to the unknown-entity that is the unbuilt Publix store a few blocks down for Trader Joe’s to consider.  Just look at its other locations!

But regardless of the validity of these emails, its interesting to see so many residents in the area passionate for a Trader Joe’s.  Maybe at some point the great amount of interest by local residents will eventually win out over their continuing hesitancy.  In the meantime, I’ll just have to schedule afternoons off from work to get my Mandarin Chicken from the Midtown store. Read the rest of this entry »

RockIt Boutique Grand Opening This Saturday Night

29 05 2008

The only real buzz we’ve heard about Decatur’s newest clothing boutique, RockIt, is that its open and its next to Azul.  I haven’t really found any other info, so I held off on posting.

Now, thanks to AsianCajuns, we’re beginning to learn a little more.  Though its been open a few weeks, the store will have its Grand Opening this Saturday night from 6p-10p (the anime characters above seem happy about it).

Though I haven’t been able to find an official website for the store, they do have a Facebook page that provides a few shots of the store’s interior if you’re interested in getting a visual idea of their selection.

If you stop by on Saturday, you may even run into the AsianCajuns themselves, as they promise to be in attendance.

Georgia Historic Preservation Tax Credit Gets Huge Boost

28 05 2008

OK, I’m a few days behind on this news…but to those preservation-minded individuals in the area, its huge.

Back on May 15th, Sonny signed House Bill 851, which increases the historic preservation tax credit from $5,000 per building renovation/rehabilitation project cap to a whopping $100,000 for residential properties and $300,000 for commercial. ALSO, it increases the tax credit to 25% of the total project cost for both residential and commercial. Much better than the old 10% for residential and 20% for commercial!

As always, in order to qualify the building must either be individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places or a contributing structure in a NRHP-listed historic district. To those a little gun shy about local historic districts as of late, don’t confuse a National Register District with a local historic district, as they are completely separate entities. In fact, Decatur’s MAK District is the only historic district in Decatur that is both a local historic district and a National Register district. None of the other local districts have yet to apply for NRHP status. Both of Decatur’s current National Register areas are in Oakhurst. South Candler/Agnes Scott and Winonna Park are the only National Register Districts in Decatur. To see a full list of Decatur properties on the NRHP, click here and search “GA” and “Decatur”. (Not all search results are in the city of Decatur)

Unlike a local historic district, National Register districts exist mainly to provide tax incentives to property owners, along with providing some pseudo-protection in the case that the state or federal government wants to tear down your property (to build a highway or government building, etc…)

If you already own a NRHP property and want to rehab it to receive the tax credit, the final step is getting your renovation plans approved by the National Park Service.

Hopefully this mammoth increase will not only motivate residents to rehab their historic properties, but also create a few more NRHP districts in the area, which get residents learning more about the unique heritage of their neighborhoods.

Brick Store Owners To Open Separate “Gastro Pub” in Rue de Leon Space

28 05 2008

A good Samaritan recently linked to David’s and my post regarding the Brick Store lease over in the Beer Advocate forums, asking for more info. At first there was only speculation…but then this morning, we got some real, second-hand details about the BSP owners’ plans.

From Firkinhophead…

“According to Dave [BSP co-owner] this will be a separate venture in the vein of cool bar/bistro/beer/food concept (dare we call it a Gastro Pub?). If the lease negotiations go through they will take over July 1.

No word on the East Atlanta location, but from what I have heard getting a liquor license in the City of Atlanta is harder than getting into Augusta Country Club.”

Somebody pinch me. All of my wildest, slightly intoxicated dreams are coming to pass.

I wonder how they’ll change the space. That sloping parking lot would be problematic for a patio.

UPDATE: Dave adds this update to the BeerAdvocate site…

“nothing is official as of yet. lease negotiations are under way. details to follow once lease is signed. cheers”

Does 315 W. Ponce Need A Parking Contingency Plan?

27 05 2008

Smart-growth guru and frequent commenter, Scott, recently got in touch with parking expert Todd Litman about the 315 W. Ponce controversy.  After agreeing that an 18% reduction in parking is adequate for the development, Litman suggests a compromise that protects both the neighborhood and lets the developer build fewer parking spots at the outset.

“…you can probably have no trouble with an 18% reduction from the conventional standard in that situation, since it has many factors that tend to reduce parking demands, including density, land use mix, transit proximity, good walkability, and lower-income demographics.

I suggest that you develop a contingency-based parking management plan, which identifies various parking management strategies that can be implemented as needed. For example, the plan might specify how parking will be shared, regulated, and priced (including cashing out and unbundling), plus carshare services available on site, and the development of an overflow parking plan. The plan can also specify how regulations will be enforced (for example, applying “resident only” restrictions on nearby streets) and problems monitored (for example, with a complaint line to the city parking department). The plan can include some additional strategies that will be implemented if needed (for example, if the city receives more than a dozen complaints of overflow parking on nearby streets), such as arrangements to use nearby off-site spaces (such as renting some parking spaces at a nearby church), new regulations, higher fees, improved bicycle parking facilities, creation of a transportation management association, improved enforcement, or even construction of additional structured parking). This plan can be enforced with a legal agreement or a bond.

This type of contingency-based planning reduces the need to predict exactly how many parking spaces will be needed. Most likely, few of these additional strategies will actually be needed, but it reduces the pressure on developers if they are able to say specifically how any future parking problems will be addressed.”

Sounds pretty reasonable to me.  I wonder if any of the involved parties (neighborhood/city/developers) would get behind such a plan.

A Hot and Sticky Festival

26 05 2008

Don’t worry, I’m just talking about the Decatur Arts Festival. Geez…get your minds out of the gutter!

On both Saturday and Sunday, my wife and I left the confines of our cool, Decatur home to brave the Arts Festival crowds. And boy were there crowds! Now maybe they weren’t Inman Park Festival size mobs, but for what its worth it seemed a lot more crowded this year than last.

Let’s take the food area on Saturday for instance…

Mad house! You can see the untamable desire for gyros on every patron’s face here.

Crowds were also plentiful by the gazebo/stage, where audience members tried to escape the heat under trees and next to the stage itself.

Walking around the other side of the gazebo, we checked out a few of the “Doors of Decatur”, which there were surprisingly few of this year (though I heard one went for over $1k at the auction)

After surveying a wide array of art (some old and some new), we found ourselves back on the Square and perused Worthmore’s Grand Opening.

Free drinks, A/C and lots of cool/funky jewelry obviously drew a crowd!

Hope your day was also filled with lots of art and cool beverages!

An Evening at Tastings: A Wine Experience

26 05 2008

Thanks to the generosity of its owners, Kelly and Deb (prior Decatur residents now living in Avondale), my wife and I headed down the street on Saturday evening to check out Tastings: A Wine Experience, which is located in the 335 W. Ponce condo building, for the wine bar’s “soft opening”.

Upon entering, we were amazed by the transformation that has taken place to convert this space from a Tropical Smoothie Cafe to an upscale wine bar. After getting over our initial shock, we were given the run down about how to navigate the unique set up. In front of us stood an army of reds and whites, all hooked up to a special “Enomatic tasting machine”, which allows patrons to extract a “taste”, half-glass, or full-glass of the wine of their choosing.

In order to partake, all you have to do is go up to the bar and put some denomination of money on a special Tastings card (we went with $30) to use in the machines. At first the shear number of choices can seem daunting, but the good layout (by region and type), individual descriptions, and helpful, friendly staff quickly coach you through your indecision. Once you’ve picked your wine-of-the moment, stick your card in the “tasting machine” and select your “pour”. In the spirit of endless choices, we stuck with the “tasting” pour the entire night.

Our $30 bucks got us about 5 tastings each (for a total of 10). We stuck mostly to reds (though there was also a good selection of chilled whites), and sampled wines from all over the world. Fragrant, mild, peppery, chocolaty, jammy, short-finish, long-finish, we tried them all for a cool $30. There’s even a “cheat-sheet” available, so that you can rattle off these same descriptors to friends.

And that’s what’s cool about Tastings. Instead of always relying on recommendations from friends or the equally vague Wine Spectator score/review at the liquor store, you can just head over to Tastings and let your our own tongue/nose decide!

Then just take a bottle home with you!

Though wine is the obvious star of the show, Tastings also offers a wide array of food selections. Most are appetizer-ish, designed for you to share as a group as you debate the finer points of wine-making. We were served some tasty blue cheese chips, a margarita pizza, some delicious crab cakes and shrimp and chorizo. Each was a good accompaniment to the wines we were drinking, which was most important in our minds.

Though you could tell that the servers were still getting their bearings, each was very friendly and remarkably helpful. In fact, aside from the wine itself, the staff might be this new spot’s best asset.

So, if you’re looking to up your wine game or just have a fun night out on the town with friends, I would recommend letting Tastings entertain you for an evening.