How do people want the city to grow in the coming years? That’s the main question being posed at a series of “Shape Dunwoody” events as city leaders seek input from residents about what they want to see for their city in the years to come.
“This is intended to spark conversation,” said the city’s Economic Development Director Michael Starling at the Feb. 16 event with guest speaker Billy Parrish.
Starling said the series was inspired by the Dunwoody Development Authority’s desire to find ways to take full advantage of the continuing development in the Perimeter Center to ensure quality growth.
“Many community leaders already recognize that creating a better Dunwoody involves adaptation and growth in order to avoid stagnation and deterioration,” notes a description of the “Shape Dunwoody” series.
Parrish, a Dunwoody resident who recently sold his home and is moving to North Carolina, is a consultant for downtown developments. He told attendees gathered Feb. 16 for breakfast at Maggiano’s Little Italy that Dunwoody is in a “sweet spot” for future growth.
Young people and those wanting to retire and downsize are wanting to be located in “urban centers like never before,” according to business and real estate trends, Parrish said. But “urban” does not necessarily translate into living in a big city.
Amenities of big cities, such as being able to walk to shops and restaurants and have easy access to public transportation, are already available in Dunwoody and continuing that trend will attract a new generation of residents looking for an “affordable city life.”
“If you look at major cities that are hot now … who can afford to live there?” Parrish said. “This search for affordable city life is why places like Dunwoody are in the sweet spot.”
Cities such as Brookhaven, Chamblee, Woodstock, Sugar Hill, Roswell and Duluth are competition for Dunwoody in attracting economic development that can fund and even create “affordable city life,” Parrish said. Suburban life is no longer the standard in today’s world, he said.
In Dunwoody, the city’s parks as well as the thriving Perimeter Center offer residents ways to enjoy big-city life while also being minutes away from trails and green spaces.
“The key here is … Boomers, millennials and Generation X in particular want a place … that is not an urban life, but a city continuum,” he said. “Where does Dunwoody fit on that continuum?”
Parrish said for one thing, Dunwoody is in the “amazing position of being one of the most walkable cities” in the state – an amenity strongly desired by people of all ages searching for homes to begin their families or age in place.
In the coming years, according to some business predictions, most workers will be freelancing, Parrish said. That means people will not be locked into a place to live that is near an office. Rather, people will be searching for a place where they can access some of those city-life amenities without paying the high rents and costs associated with a big city.
But change and growth and doing what best for the future is not easy, he added, saying that the people who are loudest at city meetings are “not the future.”
The final “Shape Dunwoody” event is March 24 from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at Maggiano’s Little Italy. Cost is $20 to attend and includes breakfast. The series is sponsored by the Dunwoody Development Authority, the city of Dunwoody, the Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber and the Dunwoody Convention and Visitors Bureau. For more information, see perimeterchamber.com.