Is construction in downtown Alpharetta ruining the charm of the area?
October 27, 2017
The Downtown Alpharetta area has always been known as a quant, quiet place to shop and get a bite to eat, but that is all about to change. $85 million construction plans broke ground in early March of this year and include a lot of major changes to the area. The project has been labeled as one of the biggest moments in the city of Alpharetta’s storied history and is expected to improve the economy and appeal of the community.
Atlanta development companies Morris & Fellows, MidCity Real Estate Partners and South City Partners are teaming up for a project that is expected to produce 105,000 square feet of restaurants and retail stores, 3 acres of green space and gardens, 36,000 square feet of offices and approximately 168 apartments. The office buildings are expected to be completed as early as February 2018 with the restaurants and retail stores opening in the summer and fall of the same year.
The main goal of the project is to create a bustling downtown that businesses and local residents alike will want to come to, somewhat emulating what Roswell has accomplished with its Canton Street. Kathi Cook, the community development director of Alpharetta, states that “a thriving downtown provides a mix of office workers to utilize restaurants, residents within walking distance in order to provide evening business and, of course, a mix of retail and restaurant in order to encourage visitors to shop and eat.” Cook goes on to explain that the new buildings will enhance the synergy while also supporting the businesses already found in the area after struggling in years prior to 2017.
Another interesting facet of this project is the proposed “Alpha Loop” concept. The Downtown Alpharetta area is now being connected with Avalon, and the Haynes Bridge, Metlife and Northwinds area through two loops, one 5k inner loop and one five mile outer loop. These loops will be trails in which people can run or bike on to easily get to and from those locations thanks to the addition of new green spaces. The loop features multiple bike rental points, small parks, and rest stations which will feature local art and refreshment stands.
Cook envisions people “parking in the garage downtown, renting a bike and riding along the creek to go to Avalon and back.” The new downtown area full of beautiful buildings and scenery is also sure to draw a suburb-rich community more towards the city center. But the question stands, will these new additions ruin the small town feel that the city has strived for?
The area is on the way to becoming a busy downtown full of buildings and places to explore that should have a positive impact on the surrounding economy, but that does not seem to fit with what was formerly a small and charming place. Also, the historic aspect of the Downtown area may be in jeopardy as well due to new architectural designs and the fact that the area will likely cater to younger people.
Cook believes that this will not be an issue; however, as it has already been announced that multiple historic homes will be restored in the area. In addition, Cook states that “the Council recently put in place downtown historic design guidelines to require new buildings to meet historic architectural requirements that will keep the charm of a historic downtown.” The new restaurants and shops will be locally owned to ensure the area stays unique. It will remain to be seen if the same charm will still be present after the construction, but there are at least plans in place to preserve it while also greatly improving the overall quality of downtown Alpharetta.