Congratulations to the city of Sandy Springs on turning 10! Prior to the city’s formation in 2005, many people worked for decades to make it happen.
Two primary goals of the innovative new city were to control the services provided to citizens/businesses and to control development. Due to the necessity of delivering services and the real estate recession of 2008-2012, we now see development—both new projects and how the city addresses future development—begin to have a significant impact on the direction of the city.
My perspective extends 36 years, having attended high school in Sandy Springs, lived half of those years here, and worked for companies all with a Sandy Springs address.
The great news in Sandy Springs regarding development is plentiful. The city’s southern boundary is improving with the Sandy Springs Gateway project at Windsor and other development moving up Roswell Road from there. The eastern boundary at Perimeter Center is truly seeing a live-work-play environment unfold.
Downtown Sandy Springs is poised for the biggest change, with perhaps the most local impact toward quality of life (a “real” downtown) wanted by many who live and work in Sandy Springs. Projects underway or expected to start soon should create more development in downtown than has occurred in the last 20 years combined.
This is led by City Springs, the public-private partnership development under construction, that will deliver a new City Hall and performing arts venue, private mixed-use development and open space. This development and others announced should create the critical mass needed.
So what are the significant challenges? I see two. One, land use and zoning, and two, Roswell Road north of Abernathy to the city of Roswell border.
The city is currently in the process of updating its zoning ordinances and procedures. I commend the leadership of the mayor and council for initiating this. Lengthy, controversial zonings are counterproductive. From a developer’s perspective, time is usually not our ally. Windows of opportunity open up in our business but do not remain forever. A more efficient, interest-aligned process will benefit all stakeholders.
Roswell Road north of Abernathy should be the city’s next big platform for change. The road is a primary artery serving a significant portion of the city. I believe more public-private initiatives will be needed.
As I look ahead, and knowing the probable developments to come out of the ground, I do see a city moving in a great direction and the new real estate developments having a significant contribution to the success of the city.
Kirk S. Demetrops is president of MidCity Real Estate Partners.