A downtown wish list

Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.

After grabbing lunch and a beer at Hop Alley recently, I took a stroll across the street to the new Alpharetta City Center. It was my first time to get an up close and personal look at what downtown will look like. It was great. I loved the large grassy area, the tree lined streets, the grand city hall, the abundance of sidewalks, and the massive in ground fountain.

downtown overlayI visited a similar development in Virginia last year. They also had a large fountain where kids could get in and get wet. It was a huge it! I don’t expect anything less down here when the temps hit 90.

As I stood in the middle of it all, my attention was drawn to the real estate on either side of the main lawn/gathering place. While we are still a ways off from spending our money here, I can’t help but envision what I would like to see there.

Retail? Meh, don’t care. Some boutique or art store or whatever. I’m talking about what downtown would NEED. Like a good sandwich shop/deli. Like a New York-style corned beef on rye handmade meatballs thousand types of sandwiches kind of place.

If the beer laws change (if) I’d love to see Jekyll Brewing have a presence downtown. I know they’ve talked about it.

I would love to see a cool little ice cream shop with old fashioned deserts and sodas. Like Scoops but better.

Most of the places could have patio dining with live music and gas lamps. Can you imagine how great it could be? I can.

The city has a chance to do something really great downtown, a chance to set Alpharetta apart from every other town in the northern arc. I hope that they think about the citizens and not about who will give them the most money or who is partnered with who. I know some of the city council members read this blog. Comment and tell them what you want to see downtown and how you envision Alpharetta’s future.

27 Responses to “A downtown wish list”

  1. Travis Allen January 30, 2015 at 7:54 am #

    How about an ice-cream shop like Scoops, but better…agreed. I loved their place, but thought their ice-cream was flavorless and awful. You could barely tell the difference between vanilla and strawberry.

    For now, I’m with many other folks, disappointed that the old city hall is being torn down. Alpharetta has a history of not caring about history.

  2. jb January 30, 2015 at 8:28 am #

    I came just to post that I could not believe yesterday when I saw the trackhoe tearing into the Milton County courthouse. Why did they do that?

  3. Lynne January 30, 2015 at 8:50 am #

    Love the ideas you describe for the parcels in front of the new City Hall, which is wonderful with beautiful walkways, fountains and green space. Alpharetta definitely needs a ice cream/yogurt shop.

    As to the old city hall, I had the same feeling until I learned that it’s not a historic landmark but dating back to the 60s. It was also added onto and has two different colors of brick. I’m not sure it would add value when something more attractive and cohesive to the new development might look better overall.

  4. jb January 30, 2015 at 11:07 am #

    Lynne are you sure on the date for the Courthouse? I thought I had seen old photos of it with the hotel across the street.

  5. SDD January 30, 2015 at 11:57 am #

    I would visit that deli you are talking about. Something like the Wrights Gourmet in Dunwoody would be awesome.

  6. Grant Goggans January 30, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

    Ample, inexpensive parking somewhere off to the side of things, a big fountain to play in, bike rentals, restaurants with outdoor patios, a locally-owned ice cream parlor – invite Morelli’s or Jake’s or see whether High Road’s thinking about a storefront – and some good shops. I’d love to have more places to wander from shop to shop looking for good old records and comics.

    Chattanooga’s North Shore does it really well – especially with that fantastic fountain and inexpensive carousel – and downtown Marietta improves year after year with lots of local restaurants and some great shops. Alpharetta’s city planners wouldn’t be wrong to have a closer look at both of them.

  7. Jen January 30, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

    A REAL bakery with real bread where you can smell it and can’t resist going in. I miss the smell of the bakeries that were near me growing up.

  8. Jen January 30, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

    I wish Dutch monkey doughnuts would come downtown and trader joes.
    Agree about a really good casual deli.

  9. Jen January 30, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

    Maybe we can steal the Australian bakery from marietta square. They make the best meat pies.

  10. Jen January 30, 2015 at 3:06 pm #

    I love the idea if a carousel!

  11. Jen January 30, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

    Chattanooga is a great role model.

  12. Lynne January 30, 2015 at 4:43 pm #

    jb, I won’t swear to the accuracy of date of the courthouse, I just remember thinking it should be saved as you and then heard at one of the early meetings regarding the city center someone, perhaps Drinkard, saying that the building wasn’t that old. Also, I remember the comment that it had been added onto and the brick was different colors, which I noted later. Perhaps a city official will verify here.

  13. Elliot Garcia January 30, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

    MAde Kitchen & Cocktails has an awesome heated patio

  14. Sergey January 30, 2015 at 5:47 pm #

    We need a cultural center/exhibit gallery – a place where you can have community activities happening all the time – jazz/classical musical performances, small art exhibits plus retail space preferably divided into small sized shops that offer unique concepts on the go (homemade ice cream shop, espresso bar, bakery & sweets, bahn mi sandwich shop, dumpling & noodle shop..just some ideas) – basically an upscale version of a food court but no franchises.

  15. Lauren January 30, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

    We desperately need a performing arts center!

  16. John Peltier January 30, 2015 at 11:48 pm #

    Definitely also a fan of locally owned (non chain) restaurants, preferably with outdoor seating and some live music.

  17. Jen January 31, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

    A little children’s museum or draw for the moms and kids is always good . We threnody walk around and have lunch coffee shops etc.

  18. Jen January 31, 2015 at 5:46 pm #

    Maybe a small upscale movie theatre that shows independent films.

  19. Travis Allen February 2, 2015 at 7:49 am #

    The Milton County courthouse sat on that spot rotting away for years.

    When it was finally torn down, the current building was built, opening in 1957.

    Major facade updates were done in the late 1980s/early 1990s, including the bricks.

  20. Sewducky February 2, 2015 at 10:42 am #

    Inner geek reveal- If a gameing/comic/board game store was opened I know I’d visit. Alpharetta’s lacking places that cater to the gamers out there (other than video or collectable card games). I’ve been assuming that overhead for a local game/comic store is too costly to compete with the internet nowadays. If that is too difficult, what about a board game cafe? or a local coffeshop with a bookshelf of games.

  21. James Drinkard February 2, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

    Travis is correct with respect to the opening date of the former City Hall as well as with regard to the expansions that were done in the 80s and 90s. The building that was constructed in the late 50s was designed to mirror the facade of the original courthouse that had stood at that location.

    Unfortunately, the expansions and alterations that had been made to the building over the years left us with a building that structurally was not suitable for reuse and that had challenges that made saving it economically unviable.

  22. Tom Miller February 2, 2015 at 11:48 pm #

    No residents want to put apartments downtown? That is what developers are demanding. Good thing our City Council promised to oppose apartments and high density urbanization, and that is why we elected them.

    Soon we will see whether they keep their promises. They sure didn’t with Avalon, which is 85% apartments, 15% homes. The zoning code limits apartments to no more than 25%, but who pays attention to the code. #ObamaMath

  23. Andrea P February 3, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

    I like the ideas in the post and would second them. Overall, patio/outdoor space revolving around some type of cuisine/casual nightlife would be great. Right now there’s no incentive to stay downtown after eating dinner. I also have no interest in more retail.

    Since we are spoiled with so many options in Alpharetta, it’s hard to think of dining ideas for downtown that would be different than what we already have to chose from. Some ideas though are:
    1) Cafe Intermezzo (late-night non-drinking spot)
    2) Souper Jenny
    3) Brick Store Pub
    4) Greenwood’s Restaurant
    5) A hot pot or korean bbq type restaurant
    6) A place like The Market in downtown Denver that is a bakery, deli, and coffee bar (http://themarketatlarimer.com/)

    As always, another great post!

  24. Sam February 4, 2015 at 6:04 pm #

    The reason the old city hall came down was because it was not really an historic building. It was small crummy building that had more additions then one could count. It had mold, sewage back ups, electrical system that stop meeting code years ago and a rodent infestation issue. Plus asbestos , I believe the original building was from the thirtys so it was not worth keeping and dumping tons of money into.

  25. Cool Papa Bell February 5, 2015 at 11:16 am #

    Food snobs! Every last one of you! Where is the love for Olive Garden, Chili’s, Friday’s? Mark Toro had the right idea bringing ITP heavyweights, but the end result could have been better. Do Mark’s idea and do it better.

    Good ideas so far. The General Muir would be the deli to recruit. Whether or not Alpharetta has enough drunks to support a Brickstore Pub, I’m not sure, but it is very good. Tasty China and Happy Belly are among the established shining stars I know for a fact have looked into the area.

    Andrea P for Mayor!

  26. Andrea P February 6, 2015 at 11:02 am #

    Why thank you Cool Papa Bell. Unfortunately my interests lie with food and not politics :)

  27. CALB February 6, 2015 at 11:48 pm #

    We definitely need non-chain food, entertainment, services and retail. BTW – Trader Joes is a chain! How about some real bagels, a hot dog stand, and a year round farmers market? A dessert cafe, sundry shop, breakfast place and a BBQ stop, are some other ideas generate recurring traffic. What about a night spot that has live music like One Star Ranch used to have? Let’s bring a little ITP to OTP – how about a Krog Street Market to make Alpharetta a destination!

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