Members of Sandy Springs’ North End Revitalization Task Force presented possible projects and proposals at its latest meeting Oct. 3, where they also discussed their potential role in gentrification.
The discussion came ahead of an Oct. 18 community meeting, where the task force will solicit feedback from the public.
Over a month-long break from meeting, the members were tasked with coming up with proposals for specific topics they were assigned, including parks, transportation and zoning issues.
An overall component of the north end’s recommendations is expected to include several “nodes” that have different character and proposed developments. The members have discussed proposing small community centers in those nodes or one large center, which was a main recommendation residents made at an open house.
One transportation proposal made by member Gabriel Sterling, who led that policy research, was a gondola lift. A gondola, a compartment supported and propelled by cables from overhead, would cost much less than light rail in right of way costs, Sandy Springs’ main roadblock from building new transit, he said.
Other possibilities include creating a tax allocation district or proposing a special sales tax similar to the city of Atlanta’s MARTA funding tax, Sterling said.
Member Jeff Garrison, who gave the “smart development” presentation, which essentially focused on zoning issues, said some city zoning requirements are “very discouraging” to development. Garrison, a retail developer, used the large North River Shopping Center, which holds the Stars and Strikes bowling alley, Dollar General and a few other stores, as an example.
“This project will never be redeveloped under the current code,” Garrison said.
A discount grocery chain proposed to redevelop the site into a new store, but cancelled plans in 2017 after opposition from the city and residents.
Garrison said the frontage, streetscape and two-story requirements deter most developers and the task force should recommend the city change or remove them.
On developing stronger partnership with schools, Charles Crosby, the president of a local construction management company, said the task force should help the community connect to services already offered at local schools or use their facilities as community centers.
The community meeting will be held Oct. 18. at 6 p.m. in Sandy Springs City Hall, 1 Galambos Way. During the meeting, draft goals and proposals covering education, housing, arts, housing affordability, economic development, transportation and green infrastructure will be presented, according to a press release. An open house to gather input will be held following the presentation.