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Alpharetta targeting December for city center opening
by James Swift
jswift@neighbornewspapers.com
August 20, 2014 01:24 PM | 1724 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alpharetta officials said the $30 million-plus downtown City Center could partially open before year’s end.

“The opening for all of the civic components, we anticipate December,” said Assistant City Administrator James Drinkard. “The contractor is scheduled to achieve what they refer to as ‘substantial completion’ in mid-September … at that point, the city is able to begin moving furniture and things like that.”

He said the basic structure of city hall is in place, with interior construction and wiring work ongoing. Other components of the multi-use space, such as internal roads and town green infrastructure, are still works in progress.

“There’s been movement within the budget, moving from this column to this column, this line item to this line item,” he said, “but we are still operating within the budget.”

Drinkard said he expects the mayor and city council to officially move in to the new civic space in December or January. For the center’s first major event, he said the venue is being eyed as the possible site of Alpharetta’s annual tree lighting ceremony.

“That is not set in stone yet,” he said, “but that is a goal.”

However, Economic Development Director Peter Tokar said private sector space is likely more than a year away from opening.

“Assuming we make a quick selection for our development and we begin construction right away,” he said, “it could be anywhere from 16 to 18 months away, and that would be with a pretty aggressive timeline.”

Broken into four separate development pads, roughly 11 acres of land is available for private use at the site.

“Our intent is to sell the development pads and then the private sector will develop those out,” Drinkard said. “Until we see what the private sector development is really looking at, we won’t have a good feel for any kind of economic modeling.”

The configuration of those spaces, Tokar said, ultimately hinges on which development plan is selected.

“We’ve had a lot of people interested in when space will be available, but that is going to be dictated by whichever developer the city council chooses,” he said.

Having an active downtown space, he said, would definitely increase local spending. In terms of potential occupants, Tokar said the city wants “homegrown” restaurants and retailers as opposed to national chains.

“When you create a strong small business community, that’s kind of the lifeblood of your city,” he said. “Whenever you get people outside of their houses and out shopping or eating, that’s always a good thing for the community.”

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