With one mixed-use development under way along Roswell Road near the future City Center and another in the pre-planning stages, Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul says that the right mix of retail needs to be found to make it all work.
Describing the City Center project as the “catalyst” to help redevelop the area, Paul said “what we’re trying to do is create a healthier environment for our central business district.” He added that experts have told city officials there is actually too much retail in the corridor.
“We’re trying to figure out a good, healthy mix,” he said.
Ground is being cleared at the corner of Hammond and Roswell Road for One City Walk, where developers Kaplan Residential and George S. Morgan Development Co. are planning 204 high-end, high-rise apartment units and just under 10,000 square feet of retail space.
“They’re headed in the right direction,” Paul said. “Too many [mixed-use projects] don’t have the right retail mix.”
One City Walk development partner George Morgan says the apartments and shops should open in March 2016.
“We’re doing a true ‘live, work, play’ environment,” he said, adding that One City Walk lives up to its name as residents will be able to walk to places like Whole Foods, Starbucks and Kroger.
Across the street, in the 6000 block of Roswell Road, developer Kirk Demetrops with MidCity Partners is requesting a zoning change for the property, where a seven-story office building and Bank of America stand.
According to Demetrops, Bank of America has been issued a building permit to construct a new branch where KFC and Checkers were located, adjacent to the proposed development.
If rezoning is approved by Sandy Springs City Council, the MidCity Partners development could include a mix of office, retail and residential. That project is scheduled to go before the Planning Commission on Jan. 15 and the council on Feb. 17.
On Sept. 2, the city approved changes to its zoning ordinance, giving the council more power over apartment development. The council voted to eliminate a clause that allowed apartment developers to obtain permits in commercially zoned districts.
The vote now forces developers interested in building apartments in those districts to appear before the council for a rezoning.
“One of the things we’re trying to do is develop a retail strategy,” Paul said, adding that he would like to see the city bring in an expert to guide developers in finding the right mix.
He cited the city-commissioned Goody Clancy study, which found in 2012 that the Sandy Springs downtown corridor needed more residents to create a walkable downtown.
“Putting just apartments in is not our vision,” said Paul, who had previously expressed frustration that many developers would simply add token retail space to qualify for mixed use.
“The apartments need to be higher-end and last longer. The stick-built garden flats don’t have the quality of construction to have 40 or 50 years of life. Give us real mixed use, bring in a good quality set of retail clients.”