The new Smynings
If Brookhaven is the country-club cousin of Buckhead, then the portion of unincorporated DeKalb that extends northeast into Chamblee—through such communities as Ashford Park, Drew Valley, and Sexton Woods—is Brookhaven’s upstart child. Some locals, in tongue-in-cheek reference to its young demographics and plentiful starter homes, call this area “Brokehaven.” We’ll keep it classy and call it “Bramblee,” in the manner of “Smynings,” a section of Smyrna that borrows the name of genteel Vinings to the southeast to emphasize their kinship.
These Bramblee communities have been around for decades, of course. The young professionals and families flocking there now (disclosure: this writer is among them) are not the first to fall for the relatively affordable home prices and accessible location. But recently erected mixed-use spots such as Village Place on Dresden Drive, a loft district in downtown Chamblee, and the massive Town Brookhaven complex—home to intown imports such as Noche tapas bar (Virginia-Highland) and Boogaloos boutique (Decatur), as well as a Costco—have hooked new homebuyers. “The sum is greater than its parts,” says Todd Banister, a real estate agent and broker who lives in Ashford Park and specializes in the Brookhaven area. “The fact that you’re close to MARTA, you’ve got a school system that continues to improve, there’s a good deal of builder attention, and now the restaurant and retail side is truly coming alive—it’s hard to ignore an area like that.”
But don’t hang your “Bramblee” flag just yet. In March State Representative Mike Jacobs introduced legislation to create a city of Brookhaven, to be considered in the 2012 legislative session at the earliest. (He has also proposed annexing unincorporated blocs into Chamblee or Dunwoody.) Stormy debates may erupt as boundary lines are drawn and new taxes are proposed; residents of northern DeKalb County are notorious for packing town hall meetings, as the recent school redistricting hearings underscored. But for at least another summer, we can expect sunny weather in a part of town that increasingly carries its own cachet.
Photograph of Verde Taqueria by Christopher T. Martin