Sandy Springs’ north end task force is set to send its proposals to redevelop the area to the City Council without the approval of three members, who are affordable housing advocates. The advocates presented an alternative plan at the task force’s Dec. 5 meeting that called for anti-displacement measures, but it was not supported by the rest of the group.
The city-created task force has been working since the summer to draft a plan to bring new development to the north end, ultimately deciding on six key proposals: build a multi-use trail; incentivize new mixed-use and mixed-income developments; make Roswell Road improvements; build connections to Roswell Road communities; create new access to the Chattahoochee River; and build a community center and swimming complex.
A consultant hired to facilitate the task force meetings chose what members would author each section of the report. The developers on the group, who authored the housing section of the plan, have often disagreed with the advocates’ position, particularly their push for anti-displacement policies.
The advocates, which include philanthropic couple Melanie Noble-Couchman and David Couchman and affordable housing advisor Meaghan Shannon-Vikovic, offered their own alternative plan, which was not supported by the task force and only earned the vote of the advocates themselves.
Previously, the task force considered allowing two differing plans to be submitted to the City Council, which plans to review the report at its January retreat, but the group decided it would be better to submit only one, consultant Otis White said. The exclusion of their ideas led the advocates to vote against the entire the plan, and their opposition will be explained in the report’s appendix.
The housing piece of the proposal is centered around bringing new mixed-income developments and increasing homeownership in the north end. This would kick off with one “catalyst” project led by the city that creates a “sense of place.”
“We are fortunate to have City Springs which is doing that in the middle part of the city, but we need something like that in the north end,” said Richard Munger, a developer with North American Properties, who authored the housing and development piece of the proposal.
The proposal suggests the city contract with a developer to create a master plan for the north end. A new zone should be created that would provide relief from some regulations to initial investors, the report said.
The developers did add some advocates’ suggestions to their plan, including studying the current housing stock, schools, transportation and businesses, and providing financial assistance to property owners to renovate properties while keeping them affordable.
The advocates’ plan that was voted down included creating an anti-displacement policy and stronger encouragement of preservation of existing affordable housing.
“Workforce families living in multifamily residences makeup 69 percent of community in the north end, David Couchman said. “If we do a lot of brand new building, we’re going to lose a lot of these homes.”
The task force unanimously supported the other proposals and all other members supported the entire plan. Developer Jack Arnold was not present and did not vote yet, however.
The plan will now be tweaked for grammar and style before heading to the City Council.