With its new City Springs civic center, a $229 million facility set to open this year with a major performing arts center at its core, Sandy Springs aims to build its identity around the arts. Many respondents to the Reporter Newspapers’ latest 1Q.com survey say that’s a smart, forward-thinking move — though there is some disagreement about the cost.

“I believe it adds great value and keeps the life in a city,” said a 58-year-old Sandy Springs woman, one of 200 respondents to the cellphone-based text survey of residents in communities served by the Reporter and our sister paper, Atlanta INtown. “Having this arts center will provide options for theater-going and generate revenue for the city. Keeping the arts alive is a way we can lead the younger generations and give them additional opportunities to learn more about their talents.”

The performing arts center at the City Springs site under construction on Aug. 25 at Roswell and Johnson Ferry roads. (John Ruch)

A 36-year-old Dunwoody woman said she couldn’t wait to join friends and family for shows at City Springs. “I love it!!,” she commented. “I think it’s a great add to our community.”

“I live in Sandy Springs, so I’m all for it and the guests it will bring in,” a 53-year-old woman wrote.

“I find it to be an incredible plan,” a 28-year-old Buckhead man commented. “I enjoy having various things to do around the Atlanta area, which includes art galleries, performances, attending the symphony, as well as enjoying music. More options like these make living in this city more enjoyable.”

And a 52-year-old Buckhead woman put it simply: “It’s a good play for Sandy Springs,” she said.

There were some naysayers. “That’s what the city of Atlanta is for. Not Sandy Springs,” said one 23-year-old respondent.

Meanwhile, a 32-year-old Atlanta man applauded Sandy Springs for outdoing his city: “Not refurbishing and breathing new life into the Atlanta Civic Center was a waste of a beautiful property and a key part of Atlanta’s heritage. Glad to hear Sandy Springs is picking up the torch to enrich their community.”

A bigger split in opinion was whether such a civic center, built as a public-private partnership, is worth $229 million.

“Too much money spent,” a 42-year-old Sandy Springs man commented. “Let the private sector do this.”

Another Sandy Springs resident, a 33-year-old man, had similar questions. “While I appreciate the city building a performing arts center,” he wrote, “the price tag to complete [it] is very concerning and [I] wonder if those funds could have been better used elsewhere for the city.”

Residents of communities near Sandy Springs also were concerned about the cost. “I think it’s a waste for the smaller cities to do this. There are plenty of arts venues and organizations in Atlanta already,” a 36-year-old Brookhaven man noted. A 46-year-old Buckhead man said the project represented “a lot of money that could be going elsewhere. [I] don’t agree.”

But other respondents thought money invested in the arts would provide a good return to the community. “I’m in favor of it,” a 51-year-old Sandy Springs man said of the performing arts center. “It makes a town more attractive and raises property values.”

“Arts and culture are key to a community’s growth and vitality and is a proven economic driver for long term growth,” said a 42-year-old Atlanta woman.

When respondents were asked what would attract them to Sandy Springs for a show, answers varied widely.

Concerts featuring popular music led the list, with 34 percent of the respondents expressing interest. Classical music drew the least interest, with only 2 percent of the respondents saying they would come to Sandy Springs for that type of concert.

Here’s what some other respondents had to say:

“Great idea! The arts will enhance the cultural activities in the area.”
— 27-year-old Atlanta woman

“I believe arts are an important part of a community. The fact that Atlanta is doing pretty good on the arts front was a big reason for staying in the area.”
— 39-year-old Atlanta woman

“As an artist myself, I fully support art as a core in civic identity. Construction and traffic are my only main concerns pre- and post-completion.”
— 25-year-old Buckhead woman

“Feel like that money would be better spent in our schools and starting an appreciation for and attention to the arts early in life.”
— 25-year-old Brookhaven woman

1Q is an Atlanta-based start-up that sends questions and surveys to a cellphone via app or text messages. Respondents are paid 50 cents per answer, through PayPal, for sharing their opinions. Payments may also be donated directly to charity. Sign up to be included in our local community polls at 1Q.com/reporter or by texting “REPORTER” to 86312.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.