Sandy Springs is spending nearly $154,000 designing a new “cultural center,” a concept the city first floated to the public last week, after privately approving an architecture firm’s contract. And while the city says no site has been identified, a request for proposals shows its “preferred location” was a privately owned auto shop on Hilderbrand Drive and part of Heritage Sandy Springs’ site once pegged for its own museum.
The center would house several local groups and, potentially, a new state Holocaust memorial.
Following a request for proposals for the design services, the city selected Houser Walker Architecture out of seven submissions, city spokesperson Sharon Kraun said in an email. The contract amount is $153,900, Kraun said, and was approved by City Manager John McDonough. The city manager can authorize spending that amount of money without a City Council vote, Kraun said.
The request for proposals for the cultural center was released June 27, months before the center was discussed publicly at the Nov. 6 City Council meeting, and closed July 25. City officials said at that meeting that no specific location has been determined and a presentation showed a general area of several blocks surrounding City Springs.
The RFP singled out a 1-acre site along Hilderbrand Drive, between Blue Stone Road and Sandy Springs Circle, as the “preferred location.” Final site selection is “still underway,” the RFP said.
Around half of that “preferred location” is occupied by Buckhead Motor Works at 145 Hilderbrand Drive. A person who answered the phone at the auto shop declined to comment.
The other half of the site is an older house and a driveway area, both city-owned parcels that are part of the park and complex operated by Heritage Sandy Springs, a history and culture nonprofit. In a 2016 master plan, Heritage identified its part of that site as a possible location for a new museum for its own exhibits.
Heritage did not respond to requests for comment about the new cultural center plan.
Groups interested in being part of the center include Visit Sandy Springs, the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust and its local Anne Frank exhibit. The groups would need about 10,000 square feet split among them, with 7,000 more for a gallery or museum and 2,000 for shared space, according to the RFP.
The city considered building a facility to accommodate those groups while developing City Springs, according to the RFP, but decided to hold off.
A public input meeting about the cultural center plan is scheduled for Nov. 29, 6 p.m., at the City Springs Studio Theatre, 1 Galambos Way.