Sandy Springs has put together a task force charged with coming up with a residential and retail strategy for the north end of its city – namely that stretch of Ga. 9 that runs from Abernathy Road north to Roswell’s southern border on the river.
This long stretch of state highway could very well be one of the most non-descript developed roads in North Fulton. The area was mostly developed in the 1980s when strip malls and contemporary condos were in fashion, and when there was no City of Sandy Springs and every developer with half a pulse got approval for projects from a very distant Fulton County government in downtown Atlanta.
Growing up in Roswell, the only time we really went south of the River on 9 was when my Pop Warner football team traveled to play those Sandy Springs Saints. When I got to high school, because I lived on the East Side of Roswell, I got to attend Crestwood High School.
The school was just south of the river and east of Ga. 9. It was built in the 1970s and put out of its misery in 1991. If you ever saw Crestwood, you’d know what I mean. (The fact that the building was mostly demolished after only 20 years of existence should say something.) It was rebuilt and today is a much-improved Sandy Springs Middle School.
There were great memories there. Our football team could very well have been the most conditioned team in the state.
We didn’t win a whole lot, but there was a huge hill surrounding most of our practice field. And if you would have gotten points for running hills, we surely would have been state champs.
Before every game, we’d get in the buses and head over to a nearby Steak and Ale for steaks and potatoes. Today, that restaurant is the North River Tavern.
There are many reasons to know about the North River Tavern. But for some of you, it is the place on the other side of the river that you go to after Canton Street shuts down. It kind of reminds me of the bar in the old movie “Footloose” that they’d go to just outside the city limits so they could dance.
If you are not Ubering to the North River Tavern after midnight, the other reasons you might head down this stretch of road is to avoid Ga. 400 traffic, or to get your tag or driver’s license renewed. A select few of you might also be heading from the Ferrari dealership in Alpharetta down to the Lamborghini dealership.
The area has been largely ignored. Since becoming a city in 2005, Sandy Springs has had its hands full with organizing a government that suddenly had oversight of more than 105,000 residents and a workforce that includes the headquarters of four Fortune 500 companies, numerous regional headquarters and more than 5,500 businesses. But by a wide margin, most of that is south of Abernathy Road. There is a huge difference between north and south Sandy Springs.
According to a report the city published earlier this year, the median income of residents living in the southern part of the city is $102,960, while those living on the north end earn $57,595.
In a recent article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul said he appointed members of the nonprofit community to the task force to ensure this area remains affordable for those on the lower end of the income ladder. These include “people who work in the restaurants and retail stores, and in landscaping and other jobs that we collectively call the essential economy,” he said. “People working at the hospitals, teachers, police and firefighters, and middle managers in the corporate realm.”
One member of the task force said it will look at ways to incentivize redevelopment that will “change some of the retail development patterns.” The article mentioned Tax Allocation Districts, Community Improvement Districts and new transit improvements that could have a significant impact on this stretch of road.
Geoff Smith is a mortgage banker with Assurance Financial focusing on residential home loans for refinances and home purchases.
*The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of Assurance Financial Group