Planning for Alpharetta’s new downtown may come to a quick and abrupt end over the course of the next week. The city has called, with one week’s notice, a single public meeting scheduled for Wednesday evening. Council is preparing to vote on a plan as soon as June 11th. Additionally, the 22 acre property may include an ambitious mixed-use component that wasn’t previously presented prior to the referendum vote in November.
Here’s how Alpharetta’s downtown plans and sketches have morphed since the public voted.
It was right at a year ago when Alpharetta released this first sketch of downtown. This blogger remarked at the time in this article that he was “stunned and pleasantly surprised not to see small condos all over this plan.” The drawing had a lot of green and a few “future development” boxes. As can be seen, these boxes were almost see-through, directing attention to the white-colored new buildings of city hall, the library and parking deck.
Over the summer of 2011 drawing number two emerged along with several beautiful artist renderings of the plan. “Future development” became a little more visible but remained a small part of the plan, lining the public green. Next the city held several public forums and conducted online city hall discussions. No mention was made of mixed-use plans in the 22 acre project, nor was a residential component brought up. Alpharetta voters approved the $29 million bond referendum in November.
Six months pass with almost no public discussion of downtown plans until the city announces the June 6th public hearing. Next this third sketch of downtown is released with far less detail. Nearly the entire western half of the 22 acre project is consumed by mixed-use development. MU property even wraps around the Publix supermarket. City Hall and the library are pushed east into the green space.
It’s clear that the scope of the downtown Alpharetta project has materially changed since it was put before voters in November. What was presented at that time was largely municipal buildings, parks and green space. Half of today’s concept could become mixed-use development. Under Alpharetta’s code that’s likely to include condos or apartments. Furthermore the city is acting with haste to approve this plan with only one public presentation announced on short notice.
The city should slow down and encourage more dialogue prior to making such a dramatic change to the downtown plan. Until then, those concerned have only one opportunity to voice their opinions publicly – Wednesday June 6th, 6:30pm at City Hall.