Speaker after speaker told a Country Club of Roswell ballroom packed with luncheon guests what a great year Roswell has had and how bright the future looks for the city.
“If there was a Super Bowl for cities, Roswell could take on all cities and be my pick for the winner,” Wood said.
Wood’s speech, normally delivered to Historic Roswell Kiwanis, had a broader audience this year. Co-sponsored by Roswell Inc., the event was attended by more than 150 of the city’s movers and shakers.
And they heard nothing but good news. The city’s economy is strong and its financial situation “is the best ever in the history of Roswell,” the mayor said.
Construction is up $200 million in the last two years, unemployment is the lowest in the metro area and Roswell Inc., a public/private agency that focuses on bringing in new businesses and retaining ones, has helped attract 2,600 new jobs to the city last year, according to Wood.
Steve Stroud, agency executive director, promised Roswell would be engaging in “hand to hand combat” with other cities for new businesses and jobs in 2014, but Roswell would “play with finesse and planning, because that’s how we win.”
As long as Roswell continues to be a great city, it will continue to grow, the mayor said, and that growth can be absorbed in an area along the Ga. Hwy 9 corridor south from Holcomb Bridge Road, which Wood deemed Old Town Roswell.
That growth will be in a walkable village in which residents can live and walk to nearby retail, restaurants and churches. It generates less traffic than subdivisions and requires less infrastructure, Wood said.
“Converting half empty strip centers and aging apartments into a walkable village will raise property values, lower crime rates and improve the health of nearby subdivisions,” he said.
New development and redevelopment in Old Town Roswell must be compact, so residences and commercial uses can be close to each other and mixed, unlike traditional subdivisions and shopping centers, Wood said.
Single family neighborhoods will remain Roswell’s focus, the mayor said, but a walkable village can offer other housing choices desired by “empty nesters” and young professionals “who don’t want three cars and a big house.”
The new unified development code, which is in the final stages of passage, will remove obstacles to walkable villages that are in the existing zoning code, Wood said.
The council is working on design guidelines to ensure that new construction looks like what Roswellians want, he said.
“By creating a walkable village in Old Town Roswell we will attract and retain good citizens, which is the key to making Roswell an even better place to live,” the mayor said.
Wood’s state of the city address may be viewed on YouTube.