Residents soon will have a clearer picture of what possibilities city officials will consider for the downtown master plan.
Preliminary details revealed in the criteria city council will use to evaluate the plans also show that private investment is expected to play a role in the downtown redevelopment project.
The city will hold a meeting Sept. 19, from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m., to view drafts of the city’s plans. Boston-based Goody Clancy, the city’s consultant, will present the drafts and answer questions about each one.
In August, the council saw Goody Clancy’s criteria for selecting a plan. According to those guidelines, the desired city center area is between 25 and 40 acres and the preferable value is between $1 million an acre and $1.5 million per acre.
Goody Clancy says its criteria include the possibility of private development and that 4 to 5 acres of property would be sufficient for city facilities. Ben Carlson, an associate with the firm, said private investors already are expressing an interest in the project.
If 4 to 5 acres is sufficient for city buildings, the city already owns a parcel big enough. The city owns 6.9 acres of land at 235 Johnson Ferry Road, the site of a former Target store. The city in 2008 paid $8 million for the property. The city also has $14 million set aside for purchasing more land around it.
It is not yet clear if this means the city will need to continue to pursue purchasing property around the Target site. That’s been a contentious issue because some owners have been unwilling to sell, raising the possibility of the city using its powers of eminent domain, an unpopular idea among city council members.
Councilman Gabriel Sterling said the public shouldn’t confuse the acreage the city needs for civic buildings with what it may need for other improvements.
“The city is going to have investments one way or another,” Sterling said. “We’re going to have some kind of parking structure at the end of the day. Don’t think of public investment only being a civic center or municipal complex.”
Councilman John Paulson said it’s too soon to say whether the city will have to adjust its thinking on buying more property.
“There could be as little as 6 or 7 acres (needed) … there are a lot of variability in here yet,” Paulson said. “We’ll have to see how the final plan comes together.”
Councilman Chip Collins said Goody Clancy’s plans could affect the council’s discussions about property purchases.
“It should and could affect where and how the city invests in downtown and, depending on where that map is, where we should concentrate our funds,” Collins said.
The Sept. 19 meeting will be held at Sandy Springs City Hall Council Chambers, 7840 Roswell Road, Building 500.
Editor’s note: this article corrects information contained in the Aug. 24 edition of the Sandy Springs Reporter. The article misstated data contained in the Goody Clancy report.