This year Alpharetta has had a singular focus on downtown. For the most part helping this struggling section of town is a good thing. The city has spent money on landscaping and plantings. They’ve created more parking along streets. Facade grants are available for downtown property owners. The city’s event department hosts all manner of functions and festivals downtown. A lot has been done and it’s working.
But it doesn’t seem to be enough.
That’s the impression you get from reading this article in the Revue and News last week. It takes a certain amount of bravado to be on the receiving end of so much generosity yet still ask for more. I’m describing a particular downtown property owner who’s in the paper, figuratively pictured with his hand out.
Don’t get me wrong. Helping downtown is a good thing. But at some point will it cross a line? Alpharetta is taxing property owners from Windward, North Point and elsewhere to create incentives for a small handful of businesses downtown. When does this go from being helpful to something that violates conservative principles?
It’ll probably happen when other business and property owners stand up and ask for their incentives too. Maybe it’ll be when Windward businesses ask for the city to host a festival in front of their shops. Something like this could happen sooner than you might think. Later this week I’ll write about a portion of Alpharetta that could struggle with business closures and empty storefronts in the years to come.
And then there’s housing. Remember, it’s never enough. This property owner wants high density residential downtown to create foot traffic to his property. Is this article paving the way to high density residential above city center? Probably. This is an issue Alpharetta’s Council has been too gutless to address and likely won’t before November’s election. But rest assured it’ll be all over the news early next year.
It’s never enough. Eventually weaning has to take place. Let’s work towards creating a thriving and self-sufficient downtown, not one that’s dependent on others.