The demolition of two dilapidated structures located at the intersection of Browns Mill and Klondike Roads is drawing both praise and criticism from residents in the city of Stonecrest.
Property owner Salim Damani, who has been working with city code enforcement officers since late last year, began demolishing the buildings after receiving a court order to remove them by Dec. 13 or bring them into compliance with city codes.
Damani owns all the property at the intersection, except the northeast corner where a gas station once sat.
Damani met with Mayor Jason Lary, Code Enforcement Manager Alejandro Ferrell and Officer William Kirkland at the demolition site on Nov. 29 to discuss his future plans for the property, said Communications Director Adrion Bell.
Damani said he bought the property in 2005 with plans to build a CVS or a Walgreens but the market took a downturn in 2008 and his plans were halted. The property is nearly 30 acres if you total all three intersections
“I still have dreams for this entire property. I am married to this property. It is my soul,” Damani said.
Damani said that he is open to a coffee shop or a Dunkin Donuts for the northwest corner, which housed a building destroyed yesterday. Across the street, Damani hopes to build a CVS or similar drugstore. His largest parcel is at the southeast corner of the intersection. Damani wants to attract a grocery store for this part of his land.
While some like Jessica Cooper commented “Awesome!” and Gary Jordan said “Wonderful!” on the city’s Facebook page, others said the buildings should not have been removed because they were historic landmarks.
Stonecrest resident Dave Marcus weighed in on social media writing in a post:
“This building is one of very few commercial buildings (possibly the last, now) that is constructed using the crazy quilt pattern that is found only in the Stonecrest area, which is part of the reason that the building is part of the Klondike National Register Historic District.”
Marcus forwarded a screenshot of a post from Greg Mann, who said one of the buildings belonged to his grandfather who built it in 1934.
“Only store, gas station, butcher shop, hardware store for 10 miles. He gave credit and provided food and such to people who paid him when they could. A really well known and liked man in the community. He also founded Snapping Shoals EMC and was president till his death in 1970,” Mann stated in the post.
Marcus suggested the city work to preserve and re-purpose the building “so that we can have both history and usefulness, without the eyesore. Certainly the city could take on getting the grass cut and perhaps painting the building so it isn’t such as eyesore. The City could even buy the land, for the price of land alone, and then work to get the building repurposed.”
Damani said that he wasn’t aware of any historical prestige that was attached to the property. The buildings are damaged structurally, making it extremely hard to bring them within city codes for safe occupancy, according to Ferrell. Kirkland pointed out a hole in the exterior side wall of the last remaining structure that concerned him. “This is a safety issue,” Kirkland said. “What if a child playfully crawls in there?”
Mayor Jason Lary listened to Damani’s concerns and some of the zoning struggles encountered with DeKalb County.
“We are going to do everything to make your dreams of a quality development come true. We are going to make it happen and help move Stonecrest forward with more new developments,” Lary said.
Damani said that he plans to continue demolition if the weather permits and the lot should be completely cleared by December 7th. Bell said Damani plans to continue the demolition, which was delayed because 811 contractors had to mark the area for underground utilities. Damani said that he will save some of the historic bricks and polygon-shaped granite from the structures. He and the mayor agreed to build a small historic monument commemorating the locations with the help of the residents who are in favor of preserving the history of the Klondike Intersection.