Downtown Alpharetta Plans – Some Early Thoughts

Last night the City of Alpharetta released their downtown Alpharetta plans… again. I was not at the council meeting so I’m still digesting the information. You can see some sketches on the city’s website at www.alpharetta.ga.us/downtownproject .

My early thoughts are:

No Condos! I’m stunned and pleasantly surprised not to see small condos all over this plan. I’m sure some are coming in the land surrounding this (such as the land adjacent to First Baptist Church). I figured the city would have set aside a small space, added up the total number of acres including green space, multiplied by ten and slammed that many condos in the small space. Refreshing not to see that at this time.

Retail is TDB - There is still a lot of “future development” on the sketches. I would have liked to see proposals on this, other than big shadows. It seems that for now there is no private development in this plan.

Washington, DC – I think the plan looks like Washington DC. With a long pond and big white buildings at the ends, the sketch is made to appear very much like a capitol city. Maybe this is on purpose?

Haynes Bridge Reroute – We knew this was coming. I don’t have a problem moving the street so as not to break up the parks. From what I understand, the city wants highway 9 to be rerouted along Westside Parkway, which should reduce traffic downtown. I’d like to see traffic studies on this plan. Currently commuters leave GA-400 at exit nine and come north on Hayes Bridge through downtown and north on Main Street. Will a completed Westside Parkway successfully divert traffic away from downtown? For the sake of this plan, I hope so.

Cost – The city will ask Alpharetta taxpayers to borrow $29 million for this plan. Keep in mind that Fulton County will be building the library, not the city. Also remember that the city already owns the land so there is no real estate acquisition in these figures. This money will go towards construction costs of city hall, the parking deck and creating the green space. That’s a lot of money. It’s also the maximum the city can borrow without raising the millage rate. I’ll write more on city hall’s opportunity cost later this week. I don’t believe the city should max out its credit card for this project.

Other than cost and the traffic study, I don’t have any early complaints about this plan. Downtown Alpharetta is struggling. This plan should go a long way toward helping.

6 Responses to “Downtown Alpharetta Plans – Some Early Thoughts”

  1. Kim May 24, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    I didn’t attend and I am still digesting it all too. Many of my first impressions mirrored yours.

    1. Don’t be fooled by no condos… I’m sure it is in the “Future Development” plans. I think they probably recognize they can’t talk about more condos just yet. It would raise a firestorm.

    2. I don’t like that the City used eminent domain to acquire two of the Brooke Street properties, and this even before there was any community input! I think this is a liberal use of eminent domain… was the park space really “needed?” Citizens had better start paying attention to what their elected officials are doing.

    3. I had the same thoughts about the price tag. What is the $29M going for? I’d like to see a cost breakdown.

  2. Kim May 24, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    Lee,
    Giving it a second thought, I don’t know that the $29M doesn’t include more land acquisition. The 2030 Comprehensive Plan shows development of the Baptist Church property. They probably need to discuss this with the people so that at least know the tentative plans for which their money will be used.

    I also don’t understand why they would tear down the old City Hall? It is a perfectly good building that could be used by someone for something. I hope they will at least recycle the bricks.

  3. Greg May 24, 2011 at 11:36 pm #

    Tell me if I’m seeing this wrong – I’m new here. But it seems to me that the main entrance into the city is up Haynes Bridge from 400. The way the plan is oriented, when you drive in that way, the main Alpharetta building you’ll see is… the back of the library?? I would have thought they’d plan it so you’d look right at the front of City Hall as you drove in.

  4. Kim May 25, 2011 at 12:24 am #

    Greg, you are right. You will see the back of the library. It does seem like an odd placement but maybe the backside will be designed to be as architecturally pleasing as the front? I’ve seen that kind of thing done before.

    I wonder if we get any say as to the design or if that is in the county’s control? It looks like there isn’t enough parking. Only 8 more spaces than the existing library, and the existing library is always overflowing. People going to the library are not going to want to be hauling books to and from a parking deck.

    BTW, Duluth and Roswell both have their City Hall a little offset from the shopping area too and not necessarily prominently located.

  5. Ashley May 27, 2011 at 8:39 am #

    I’m apprehensive about the city installing such expansive pools and fountains. It really doesn’t send the right message in an area that should try and conserve water. Even if the water is gathered from a well or cistern, it still would not be the best use of the water. Not to mention that the maintenance cost on such a system are not needed. I still like the idea of water features in the design; it just needs to be toned down.

  6. alice May 29, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    Ashley, I totally agree with you regarding the water feature. We don’t live on the great lakes. GA is known for water shortages. Gardens that showcase drought resistandt species would be more beautiful and appropriate with some fountains in between.

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