The city of Sandy Springs has spent the entire year working on its downtown master plan and the City Council may adopt it at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 18.
The plan, if followed, will move the center of city life to what has traditionally been considered the heart of the community along Roswell Road between Hammond Drive and Sandy Springs Circle.
The master plan, developed by Boston-based consultant Goody Clancy, incorporates property the city already owns – the former Target Property at 235 Johnson Ferry Road. The city paid $8 million for the property in 2008 and under the plan being considered it would become a mix of residential, retail and civic space as well as a parking area.
The main civic space for the city would lie between Johnson Ferry Road and Mt. Vernon Highway, facing Roswell Road. The plan does not state what the cost would be to implement it, but the city has been setting aside money to buy property and develop the infrastructure. The city previously designated $9 million in a “city hall fund” and in its Fiscal 2013 budget designated $5 million for city hall and $4 million for downtown infrastructure.
Downtown development planning drew hundreds of residents to various meetings arranged by Goody Clancy. While there has been widespread interest, disagreements arose over whether the plans had enough green space and the possibility of the city using eminent domain to acquire property around the Target site.
The plan does not address eminent domain and it’s not clear whether property owners have warmed to the idea of selling to the city. The City Council hasn’t been supportive of using eminent domain to acquire property for downtown. Aside from the general reluctance to drive private companies out of the downtown area, a condemnation action would also limit private investment in the project. Under Georgia law, any property acquired this way could only be used as a public space for 20 years.
The City Council meeting begins at 6 p.m. at 7840 Roswell Road, Building 500 Sandy Springs, GA 30350.