Sandy Springs residents are chiming in on plans for a new downtown area. During a Tuesday evening session for public feedback on development plans, some folks said they want greenspace and walking areas. Others want building eyesores removed.
“I would live to see some change to that backside of [Parkside Shopping Center]; dumpster row.” said Elizabeth Jetton. “It feels like a waste.”
Howard Austin wants to see change at City Walk shopping center. “It’s just doesn’t work,” he said. “You’ve got poorly built buildings around the perimeter and you’ve got this big black asphalt in the middle. I’d like to preserve Kroger and the Post Office and J. Christopher’s.”
About 200 people attended morning and evening sessions with city officials and , the master planning firm chosen to help create Sandy Springs’ downtown.
David Dixon, Principal in Charge of Planning and Urban Design, with Goody Clancy briefed the crowd on the economics and opportunities for Sandy Springs in moving forward with development plans.
“You picked the right time if you want to create a downtown,” he said. “This is probably [the best] time since the Great Depression.”
Dixon said traffic is an issue because 92 percenr of people who work in Sandy Springs commute here, and 84 percent of people who live here commute out of the city to their offices.
“You can’t add traffic to Roswell Road,” he said. “Right now it is a through corridor. Sandy Springs just happens to be on their route its’s not a destination for a lot of that traffic…”
Sandy Springs has an opportunity to change with the times, Dixon noted. The make-up of communities has changed in the last 10-plus years according to his research.
Dixon said housing demand nationally and in metro Atlanta shows that people today want a walkable mixed-use community. A walkable environent equates to a perception of better health. And folks are looking for stormwater - something that’s important to many current Sandy Springs residents – to be “an amenity, not a danger,”
To compare Atlanta living trends today vs. 1990, Dixon said in '90, people wanted golf courses nearby, a large yard, homogeneity, and an escape from work. In 2012, people say they want diversity, transit, to live near work, and a fun walkable environment.
It’s to Sandy Springs' benefit that several large corporations are headquartered here. Prospective companies want to know the community is educated, Dixon said.
Public input meetings will be held through September. Goody Clancy will combine citizen feedback with their own expertise to produce a presentation for public meetings in October and November.
Below are questions discussed during group breakout sessions, Tuesday.
- What places in/around the study area represent priority opportunities for positive change? What places deserve priority for preservation?
- What key strengths/assets of the study area and larger Sandy Springs community should help shape the downtown vision?
- What qualities and activities should define downtown?
- What priority goals should the downtown vision highlight and make possible?
- What critical challenges do we need to overcome to achieve these goals?