ROSWELL, Ga. —A new report from the East Roswell Economic Action Committee lays the groundwork for revitalizing an area of the city that has missed much of the economic turnaround.
On Feb. 20, the mayor and City Council met with committee members to discuss the findings. The committee, made up of community volunteers and stakeholders, was formed last year to analyze East Roswell’s economic development options.
Using research from various existing studies, surveys and meeting archives to identify four keys areas for improvement, the committee said economic planning/development, transportation, character areas and community facilities are key steps in revitalization.
One common issue is how to attract East Roswell residents and visitors to spend more time and money in the area. The committee pulled from NextSite cell phone data showing that a significant portion of people who lived in East Roswell do not work or shop in the area. The study found that Buford Highway Farmers Market is the most popular grocery shopping destination for portions of East Roswell, beating out the nearby Publix and Kroger. That’s a huge missed opportunity, said Committee Chairman Trent Perry.
“We have far more growth potential than we are realizing,” he said. “The east side economy has negative growth, while our true market potential remains untapped and growing.”
The committee’s report pointed out that the east side has few large businesses, and about 35 percent of its businesses are home-based. The city needs to develop a more proactive and supportive relationship with East Roswell businesses as well as develop a more effective strategy to attract businesses that would otherwise go to nearby cities, Perry said.
Committee members also praised the city’s recent 90-day moratorium on conditional-use applications for multi-family housing units. The east side already has an imbalance between renter and owner-occupied housing, and that, coupled with limited expansion capabilities, is unsustainable in the long term, Perry said.
Committee member Amanda Riepe said that at this point, the last major East Roswell location with redevelopment opportunity is the old Kohl’s site near Centennial High School. It’s an opportunity that requires urgent, out-of-the-box thinking, she said.
The committee proposed the site could be used as a Roswell Activity Complex with sports amenities, children’s play structures, and rooms for music classes and parties.
Other committee recommendations for East Roswell include sidewalks and bridges to improve connectivity and walkability, better signage, park upgrades and creation of a destination area.
Perry said the committee has a lot of recommendations that aren’t all easy to implement but would be worthwhile to improve East Roswell’s economic viability.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Perry said. “There’s a lot of money that needs to be invested. The challenges that this presents to mayor and council members are significant... But it creates a better lifestyle for our residents. I think it creates a better business environment.”
The city will host a special called public forum with the East Roswell Economic Action Committee on Monday, March 2, from 6:30-9 p.m. at the East Roswell Park Recreation Center.
To view the full East Roswell Economic Action Committee report and presentation, visit roswellgov.com.