Alpharetta unveils new city center proposal

Subject: Alpharetta Plans for Downtown Area
City of Alpharetta officials unveiled Monday night a long awaited vision for the redevelopment of 22-acres of property in the heart of Downtown Alpharetta. That vision includes the creation of a large public park, the new Fulton County Library, a new Alpharetta City Hall, structured parking, and the realignment of Haynes Bridge Road.
For several years the City of Alpharetta has pursued plans for reinvigorating the community’s downtown core through development of property surrounding the current City Hall building. Past attempts have not been realized due to factors that were beyond the control of City Council. City officials are confident that this time the vision will be realized.
“The key difference this time is that we own all of the property,” explained Alpharetta Mayor Arthur Letchas. “In the past private developers were unable to come to terms with the owners of key pieces of property, and the project withered. Today, we own all of the property needed to make this vision a reality, and we are committed to making that happen.”
Since the summer of 2010 the City has taken advantage of the depressed real estate market to acquire 8 acres of Downtown Alpharetta property that, in combination with property the City already owned, will encompass the entire project.
The City’s property sits on both sides of Haynes Bridge Road, so officials plan to realign the road to unify the proposed development. Under the plan, just north of its intersection with Old Milton Parkway the road will be shifted to the east so that it intersects with Academy Street at the present day Brooke Street.
“The road will be realigned to become the eastern boundary of the redevelopment project, which allows the entire development to be pedestrian focused,” Letchas explained.
Concept images revealed Monday night reflect a five-acre passive park dominating the northeastern portion of the development and a one-acre town green fronting Main Street. A new public library is depicted prominently in the southeastern corner.
“Every good development needs an anchor, a star attraction,” Letchas stated. “The new library is the anchor for this development, so we have proposed a location that takes advantage of topography and sight lines from Old Milton Parkway to draw attention to that important community asset.”
The City also proposes to build a 450-space parking structure and a new 47,000-square foot City Hall as part of the redevelopment. Those projects would be funded by General Obligation Bonds, if voters approve a referendum that will appear on the ballot this November.
“We will make our case to Alpharetta citizens,” stated Letchas, “and they will decide if those elements are built. We can take on those bonds; can make this project happen, without increasing taxes,” he went on to explain. “Alpharetta can make this vision happen without paying a dime more in taxes than they do today.”
City officials explained that the balance of the property, sites fronting Main and Academy Streets, will be developed by private interests at a later time. They explained to the gathering that their intent is to host a series of public input sessions to learn what citizens would like to see built in those locations. Once that process is complete, the City would solicit offers from private developers to either buy the individual sites or enter into long-term ground leases.
“Our intent is to construct the public portions of the project - those elements that are good and proper for local government to build and own,” Letchas said. “The environment that is created will serve as incentive for private development, but the City will not fund what the private sector builds.”
The City has added pages to its website on which citizens can view images of conceptual plans, get information on the proposed development, and share their thoughts and impressions. Visit www.alpharetta.ga.us/downtownproject for more information.

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