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Sandy Springs public gets first look at what city can be
by Noreen Lewis Cochran
September 19, 2012 08:28 PM | 1584 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
About 200 attendees got their first glimpses of a revamped downtown Sandy Springs — the area between Interstate 285 and Abernathy Road — during a preliminary city center master plan open house Wednesday at City Hall.

The culmination of work conducted through research and public workshops since April, the four master plan scenarios had surprising twists.

Associate Ben Carlson of Boston-based city planning firm Goody Clancy revealed existing retail and pavement areas may be replaced with a series of town squares designed to be safe, unique and walkable.

The firm concentrated on Bluestone Road and Mount Vernon Highway as the best places for pedestrian activity, leaving the city’s main thoroughfare to drivers.

“Roswell Road is not the easiest street to make more walkable and inviting,” Carlson said.

Sandy Springs Circle is the candidate for a “new Main Street,” which Carlson said can slim down, become more pedestrian-friendly and provide parking for nearby gathering place Heritage Green.

“We don’t need all four or five lanes. You can actually convert the edge lanes into parking,” he said.

The former Target retail store, which has been discussed as a permanent City Hall location, appeared in none of the four scenarios as a building.

Instead, the store’s footprint was converted into a greenspace.

Two of the preferred locations for “The Community Hall,” as the potential civic structure was dubbed, are either the Kroger-anchored CityWalk shopping center or the site of a Goodyear auto body shop at Roswell and Johnson Ferry roads.

“What if we put the civic facility on the east side of Roswell Road?” Carlson said about a third site at a shopping center at Roswell Road at Hilderbrand Drive.

Mary Bignault of Sandy Springs said after Carlson’s presentation she was “very excited” by the concepts, included a boutique hotel in the center of town and a revamped shopping center where Kroger will remain.

“You can’t walk in CityWalk. It doesn’t work at all,” she said about a parking lot ringed by retail and restaurant locations.

However, Sandy Springs architect Margaret Brown said she was “very disappointed” by only 2 acres of greenspace.

“That is not the message I heard the residents of Sandy Springs deliver. I felt that message was not heard,” she said.

The next steps are gathering more public feedback — forms are online and available and City Hall — and bringing the plan to the city council for a vote in November.

On the web

What’s next?

The Sandy Springs City Council will vote in November on the city center plan.

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