The Roswell Downtown Development Authority, reactivated by city council in 2012, considers the plan a tool to ensure that investment and redevelopment of the downtown district is achieved in ways that retains the village-like character unique to Roswell.
“The plan is not a directive for private property owners but we hope a source of inspiration to see the possibilities,” said authority chairperson Monica Hagewood.
Divided into north, central and south segments, the plan envisions new pedestrian-scale businesses and residences along Atlanta Street, “non-invasive” parking decks, renovation of the old Southern Skillet shopping center with a large anchor retailer, a senior housing option and a pedestrian park on the north side of the Smith Plantation.
“Several elements of the plan have received quite a bit of enthusiasm in particular,” Hagewood said. “The first is the development of a central gathering space for citizens of all ages and backgrounds right in the middle of downtown.
“The second are the improvements to the streetscape down Atlanta Street. Improving the pedestrian experience in this part of downtown would provide a strong connection between the historic square and Canton Street.”
The plan is a joint effort between Lew Oliver of Whole Town Solutions, Alex Paulson of Randall Paulson Architects, the city’s transportation and community development departments and the seven volunteer authority members appointed by council.
Hagewood said authority members “saw and felt the energy swelling in the city to see growth, reinvestment and redevelopment that would really embrace the village scale of Roswell with best-in-class design and construction.
“After spending time poring over the studies and plans that the citizens and staff of the city had invested in over the years, we saw a pretty consistent vision.”
With the plan, the authority has tried to convey these ideas to potential investors and developers, she said. “We see this plan as a dynamic, collaborative communication tool that can be used to evaluate new redevelopments by enabling these changes to be seen in context, visually, before they are approved or built.”
The plan can be seen on the authority’s web site, www.roswelldda.com. It’s a working digital plan that can be altered to show changes that occur over time and explore alternatives, Hagewood said. “The DDA will be using this plan as a framework to evaluate potential public-private partnerships.”
The authority has the capability to buy and sell property, which allows it to fill vacant and “unproductive” spaces, according to its website. It can pursue “catalytic” economic opportunities and issue bonds to finance development projects.