An organization of Roswell Road property owners says the city of Sandy Springs should find ways to increase parking, encourage redevelopment and maximize the use of city-owned property in order to spark revitalization of Sandy Springs’ “downtown.”
“This is the beginning of a truly city-changing idea, in our opinion,” Lonnie Mimms of the Main Street Alliance told Sandy Springs City Council on April 19 as members of the two-year-old property owners group discussed its findings with the council.
“We’ve seen an area with off-the-chart demographics, yet with that type of background, we’re seeing a downtown that is not transformed,” he said. “A lot of the area has gone the other way, it’s deteriorating. It’s almost embarrassing.”
Mimms and other members of the alliance told city officials they need a master traffic plan for the area and that they should think of the downtown as a single unit, rather than a lot of small pieces, when considering some green space, parking and storm water runoff requirements on developments. Storm water runoff, for instance, could require projects that would prove too expensive for a single small owner to address when considering renovating a building.
“We need to think of the whole of downtown Sandy Springs as one parcel,” alliance member Kirk Demetrops said.
Alliance member Cheri Morris said the downtown area “just isn’t working” now.
She said the area does not attract the shoppers it should and it loses about 49 percent of the “shopping visits” it should receive to Buckhead or the Perimeter area. She proposed that electric wires be placed behind buildings or underground and that on-street parking be added on Sandy Springs Circle.
The city’s development of the property it bought for a future city hall could spark “significant” change in the area, she said. “The city needs to go first on this,” Morris told the council. “The public realm needs to go first.”
The property, generally known as the “former Target site,” should be developed as a civic center. It should be “not just a city hall,” she said, “but have a daytime and a nighttime life.”
City officials welcomed the discussion. “I think it’s fabulous that the city and property owners are talking to each other,” Mayor Eva Galambos said. “We aren’t going to make any progress in the downtown area if we aren’t working together.”