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Roswell State of the City: Wood predicts a mixed-use Roswell

Demographics demand more walkability

Roswell Mayor Jere Wood said he expects the city to grow in mixed-use neighborhoods as the population gets older and the city attracts a younger workforce. JONATHAN COPSEY. (click for larger version)
January 23, 2013
ROSWELL, Ga. – The future of Roswell looks brighter, although according to Mayor Jere Wood, somewhat different from what residents might be used to.

He gave his annual "State of the City" address to the Kiwanis Club of Historic Roswell Jan. 17, in which he outlined where the city stood presently and where he expects the city to go in the coming year.

Among the changes residents can look forward to are more mixed-use developments – small, apartment-style residences close to retail hubs.

"Roswell' population is getting older and buying smaller homes," Wood said. "They have more disposable income and more free time. They are looking for more walkable housing close to shopping and dining."

He predicted a Roswell that is focused less on large homes in subdivision neighborhoods and an increase in housing similar to Canton Street – smaller apartments or townhomes.

Going hand-in-hand with the aging population, Roswell hopes to attract new jobs and, with them, a younger workforce. The recent announcement that General Motors is bringing 1,000 technology jobs to the city was big news, and those workers will likely be in their 20s or 30s. Those younger workers have similar demands of their aging counterparts.

"People no longer look at houses as an investment," Wood said.

(click for larger version)
Instead, younger people look for rentals and apartments – even if they are high end – which are close to centers of commerce (such as Canton Street).

"This is something I could never have anticipated," said Wood.

The city is ready to make the change, he said, with several projects already underway. Grove Way and Frazier Street neighborhoods near City Hall were recently allowed to build mixed-use developments, which could revitalize historic Roswell.

2013 will be a year of redevelopment, he said, with blighted areas of the city redone, and new developments and uses allowed by changing laws to make Roswell much more business-friendly.

"I want Roswell to be the most business-friendly city in Georgia," Wood said.

list visuals View images.
Highlights of Roswell's finances:

• Roswell's property tax digest has dropped nearly half-a-billion dollars since 2008, from $4.90 billion to $4.43 billion. It has remained largely flat for the past three years.

• Property tax revenue is up since 2008, from $23.83 million to $24.16 million, however it is down slightly from the years of 2009-2011.

• General sales tax collection is up from last year, to $20.62 million. This is the highest it has been since 2008, when it was $21.22 million.

• Since 2008, general fund reserves have dropped $15.2 million.

• While revenue is flat or shrinking over the past five years, the city has still managed to pay down its debt to the tune of $25.2 million. It dropped from $36.8 million in 2008 to $11.5 million in 2012.

• Unemployment in Roswell is well below the state and national average. As of November 2012, Roswell's unemployment stood at 6.1 percent. Nationally, it is 7.4 percent. Georgia is at 8.3 percent. The Atlanta metro area is at 8.0 percent. In 2007, Roswell unemployment was 3.5 percent and reached a high in 2010 of 7.8 percent.

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