ALPHARETTA, GA. – After several weeks of tweaking the plan, the Alpharetta City Center project received a unanimous vote of approval Sept. 10 from the Alpharetta City Council, giving the nod to move forward.
Mayor David Belle Isle was not coy about how important the city center was for Alpharetta, not just in the short term, but looking years ahead.
“This is a generational project,” he said. “But this is a milestone. We’re not done yet.”
A series of extensive public hearings were held by the city in an effort to assuage citizen concerns about the plans changing from what was approved on the November ballot.
The $29 million, 26-acre project dramatically changes the face of downtown. A new city hall will be built first, joined by a 0.89-acre town green, a 5-acre park and a 450-spot parking deck. Eventually, units of retail development will also be included. Fulton County will build a library next to the park on a 3-acre site donated by the city.
The plan was improved upon since the initial referendum, which garnered roughly 70 percent of the vote. The park increased in size, and side streets were added that now crisscross the development. The parking deck was rotated 90 degrees to place it closer to the city hall and to save a large specimen tree.
Public Works Director Pete Sewczwicz said no decision has yet been made about whether the interior streets will be two-way or how many – if any – traffic lights will be added to the project.
The Fulton County Library System is in charge of the library, and no plans have yet been submitted to the city. They will have to fit it within the allotted 3 acres.
Resident Deb Zemlock, who has been persistent in her questioning of the changes especially as they affect the trees, had praise for the process.
“I wanted to thank you all for listening and taking to heart the concerns of the citizens,” Zemlock said.
Councilman Chris Owens said this approval was for the master plan – the overall scheme. The details of the buildings will be decided upon further down the line.
“There are still a lot of design decisions to be made,” he said.
The public will still be involved for those decisions.
Councilman Jimmy Gilvin was the only member of council who voted against the master plan in June, however he said he was pleased with the revised version.
“The original master plan was a good one, but when I saw that plan, I felt the commercial overwhelmed the green space,” he said. “[But] I am excited about these changes.”
Councilman Donald Mitchell could hardly contain his enthusiasm after the vote.
“It’s a great plan,” he said. “Let’s get this party started.”