Sandy Springs will revisit its nearly decade-old City Center Master Plan to figure out what worked and what didn’t in establishing the City Springs District.

With public and private investment jumpstarting implementation of the plan, updates are needed, Assistant City Manager Kristin Smith told City Council at its May 18 meeting. The council approved a $150,000 budget amendment to contract with a consultant to conduct the update.

Key factors she identified to consider are the addition of city-owned and maintained property, parking challenges, updated zoning and a new development code.

“The City Center master plan was adopted in December of 2012. Since adoption of the plan, many of the core goals have been actively implemented through public and private investment,” Smith said.

She told Councilmember Jody Reichel that staff is working on the scope.

Councilmember Andy Bauman said the timing of the update is great, as only Councilmembers John Paulson and Tibby DeJulio remain on the council since the original plan was adopted.

“I’d like to ask that we be presented an opportunity to review the scope,” he said.

Bauman wants council to decide if it should consider stakeholders whose properties are “within shouting distance” of the City Springs District.

“To be clear, we were not anticipating just looking at city-owned properties. We were considering the boundaries that were originally established within the 2012 master plans,” Smith said.

Mayor Rusty Paul said his concern was the city could end up with a balkanized plan where areas are part of the master plan but with little islands of properties that would not be part of it.

Bauman said he doesn’t want those isolated properties either, but he doesn’t want property owners to feel left out of the process of determining what is part of the plan and what is not.

“I’m more interested in the boundaries of this thing as expansive as we can make it to include properties. I wasn’t looking to really exclude I think we just need to be sensitive,” he said.

Paul said he agreed. The Goody Clancy study that helped create the original master plan needs to be evaluated in making the update.

“I think you’re not going to get very far with a plan if you don’t incorporate the current property owners. So I would anticipate that all property owners in the affected area would be engaged, at least offered the opportunity to provide input,” he said.

Paulson also wanted the original plan evaluated. It served as the blueprint for the entire district.

“I want us to use that as a framework because, let’s face it, we spent a lot of time and money and effort,” he said.

The community had input into that plan, so it should be used as part of the scope of the update to assess what has been done, how well it’s worked – and then build on from there, Paulson said.

Smith said the consultant updating the plan will examine the Clancy plan’s original proposals, compare it to what has been built. From that the implications of what has been done will be determined. Based on feedback received, a bit of economic development analysis will be done to figure out an economic development strategy for the City Springs District.

The five core goals were to:

·        Create a vibrant, walkable city center with amenities such as commercial retail, recreational and cultural activities.

·        Catalyze market-driven private investment in mixed-use redevelopment with new dining, amenity retail and entertainment options.

·        Create an appropriate setting for a new civic/cultural center that functions as a place of community activity and identity.

·        Create infrastructure including walkable streets, stormwater, traffic flow, transit, bicycling facilities, parking, utilities and signage.

·        Introduce a green space network for a variety of activities drawing from new development and tying together with established neighborhoods and existing open spaces.

Approximately 1,700 new residential units and more than 100,000 square feet of retail and amenity space have been added in the City Springs District, Smith said.

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Reporter Newspapers.