Creating a downtown for Sandy Springs residents will cost in excess of $84 million, according to estimates provided by the city.

City Manager John McDonough went over the numbers during the Jan. 30 City Council retreat. It’s the first time city officials have attached a dollar amount to redevelopment plans. The city already has budgeted $25.6 million and needs an additional $58 million, according to city budget documents.

The city’s plan will take about 10 years to implement, McDonough said.

McDonough recommends City Council set aside $7.5 million a year over the next seven years, but the $58 million estimate does not include a price for building a new city hall. That will require borrowing money or entering into a lease-purchase agreement with a private investor, McDonough said. These are the costs for building Phase 1 of the city center plan, and will cover the area north of Hammond Drive and west of Roswell Road.

At first, council members experienced some sticker shock.

“Wow. And this doesn’t include the building,” Councilwoman Dianne Fries said.

McDonough told City Council that it’s a big commitment, but a necessary one.

“If the council’s going to commit to this plan it’s going to require a significant portion of your annual (Capital Improvement Projects) to make this priority a reality,” McDonough said.

City Council approved a redevelopment plan in December. Under the plan, future development will move the center of city life to what has traditionally been considered the heart of the community along Roswell Road near I-285.

The plan seeks to make the city more walkable and provides for a mix of uses, expands green space and seeks revisions to the city’s zoning code to achieve the desired downtown aesthetic.

So what would taxpayers receive for the $84 million?

The big ticket items include:

–          $25.5 million to buy land;

–          $4 million for professional services;

–          $9.6 million to build a segment for Mount Vernon Highway west of Sandy Springs Circle to Roswell Road and extending Bluestone Road from Heritage to Mount Vernon Highway;

–          $11.3 million for infrastructure costs;

–          $5.5 million  to relocate utilities;

–          $12.5 to provide parking;

–          $4.4 million to build a playground next to Heritage Green.

Toward the end of the presentation, council members sounded ready to move forward.

“There are a lot of things on this list that we would probably want to do anyway,” Fries said.

Councilwoman Karen Meinzen-McEnerny called the plan to fund the project “very doable.”

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of Decaturish.com