Alpharetta City Center breaks ground: New City Hall, downtown underway

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. – After many years of discussions, planning, redesigns and more planning, Alpharetta finally had the groundbreaking April 22 for its new City Hall building.

The groundbreaking “generational project” kicks-off 16 months of construction that will transform downtown Alpharetta. Contractors will begin demolition of existing structures on the 25-acre site later this week.

“We’ve been talking about this for so long, and now here it is,” said Mayor David Belle Isle. “It’s exciting.”

The estimated value of the project is slightly more than $31 million.

“Our primary goal is to create an active environment for families and the community,” said Belle Isle. “To do this, we need to activate the 25-acre site on the east side of Main Street so as to invigorate the businesses on the west side and create the type of dynamic downtown core that Alpharetta deserves.”

In 2011, after the third iteration of the project stalled, the city began acquiring additional property so that it could control the destiny of the project. The acquisitions also allowed for the project to expand and for Haynes Bridge Road to be relocated so that the project could be unified onto a single 25-acre site. Within a few short months Alpharetta had struck a deal to bring the new branch of the Fulton County Library to the project and saw 73 percent of its citizens vote to finance the project using $29 million in general obligation bonds.

“We have been talking about redeveloping downtown for decades,” said former Alpharetta mayor and current state Sen. Chuck Martin. “It’s always been my hometown and, because of what we are doing today, it can be a hometown for our kids.”

While a new City Hall has been discussed since the early 1990s, the City Center idea has been a key project for Alpharetta since 2005 when officials first put forward a plan for spurring business and development activity in the community’s downtown district by leveraging city-owned property. Discussions first centered on a 3-acre tract and included only a small expansion of City Hall and the creation of a central public plaza fronting Main Street. By 2006, the city was pursuing partnerships with private sector interests to expand the footprint and scope of the project, expanding its vision to include 10 acres that would be home to the plaza and City Hall expansion as well as a 5-acre park and commercial development opportunities.

Development of the project is managed by Jones, Lang, LaSalle, and the general contractor for the project is Sandy Springs-based Choate Construction. The Atlanta-based firm of Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart and Stewart is serving as the master architects for the project with primary architectural design services led by David M. Schwarz Architects of Washington, D.C.

The city anticipates cutting the ribbon in August of 2014 on the civic components of the project, which includes City Hall, the town plaza and parking deck. Later in 2014, the new 25,000-square-foot library is expected to open on 3 acres the city gave to the county just south of City Hall.

This article was published in the Revue & News April 25, 2013 edition