ROSWELL, Ga. — A strip mall overhaul that could propel downtown Roswell’s redevelopment cleared another hurdle last week.
The city’s Historic Preservation Commission gave the nod to a slate of outdoor renovations proposed at Roswell Plaza, a shopping center near the corner of Norcross and Alpharetta streets in the heart of Roswell’s Historic District.
The nearly 40-year-old commercial building that houses the shopping center is on tap for a massive facelift, one that can help accelerate the city’s hopes of transforming the overall downtown area.
Shields Engineering Group, an Atlanta civil engineering firm, plans to replace the aging storefront’s walls and windows with new brick veneer, wood siding, metal canopies and window frames, according to a letter of intent the firm’s senior engineer Lee Webb sent city officials Aug. 5. The developer also intends to build three new patios and landscaping islands on the east side of the 1.9-acre property.
The project is meant to complement the $100-million redevelopment just feet away at Southern Post, a massive effort that got underway earlier this year.
While the Historic Preservation Commission gave unanimous approval to the proposed upgrades at Roswell Plaza, their green light Sept. 8 came with seven conditions.
One of the key suggestions was screening behind the west side of the building to fence off the property’s utility locker. Commissioners also asked that the intensity of the LED lights proposed for the property be reduced by around 12 percent. The board also asked Shields Engineering Group to prepare a mockup of the brick and metal materials the firm intends to use for doors, windows and outdoor siding.
Historic Preservation Commission member Andrew Shepard suggested the developer consider extending brick facia on the outdoor patio all the way up to plaza building, arguing it would help foster continuity. Commissioners agreed to revisit that detail after the developer does a more in-depth study of construction plans for the patio.
The board must review and sign off on the minor adjustments before Shields can apply for a building permit.
The Roswell Plaza property, located at 100 Norcross Street and 1017 Alpharetta Street, is an off-market shopping center that abuts the Southern Post along Alpharetta Street. The strip mall is anchored by a collection of discount shops, mixed-martial art dojos and Hispanic-oriented storefronts.
Developers steering the renovation effort envision a plaza that will feature restaurants, display shops and outdoor patios amid modern industrial-style architecture.
It’s an effort to fit into what city officials envision as the corridor’s new tenor. Southern Post is a highly anticipated mixed-used development that broke ground in February. S.J. Collins Enterprises is spearheading that revitalization effort which includes plans for restaurants, shops, apartments, town homes and about 70,000 square feet of office space on the 4.28-acre property. The site sat idle under city ownership for about three years before the Fairburn-based real estate company acquired it in November 2019.
Commissioner Anthony “Geoff” Sheard asked whether the two developments will be divided from one another. Webb said the two sites’ driveways will be interconnected. Sheard seemed to find comfort in that detail as well as the kinship in their apparent designed plans.
“I just like the idea of using Southern Post as a style guide so it looks more like a coherent development rather than something that just happens to be next to it,” he said.
Commission Vice Chairman Alex Paulson said he was excited for the Roswell Plaza renovations, describing it as “an opportunity to really make this a sweet spot all the way around.”
But he also expressed concerns on several of the project’s site plans, questioning the developers about fencing or vegetative buffers on the west side to block the public’s view of utility outlay. Paulson was also adamant that developers explicitly declare in their plans dimensions for the new window frames, doors and other openings to ensure continuity throughout the building. He urged them to consider different approaches for the proposed patios before bringing the plans back before the board.
“Generally I think you’re there, I’d just like to see more specifics,” he told Webb and representatives from AKA Studios, the project’s architect. “This is a pretty big renovation and a big focal point in Roswell, so we need to do it right.”