JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — The Johns Creek Convention and Visitor Bureau oversaw installation of the first of six planned gateway markers Aug. 17 at State Bridge Road and Kimball Bridge Road.
The display is part of a proposed three-year project. The 9-foot marker represents the community of Johns Creek and serves as a way to attract more overnight visitors, CVB officials said.
“So far, the reactions these first few days have been extremely positive,” said CVB Chair Lynda Lee Smith, one of the lead advocates for the project. “Some people have a hard time visualizing art from a rendering, so now they can see it full size,” said CVB Chair Lynda Lee Smith, also serving as the lead advocate for the project.
The marker comes after years of advocacy for some sort of city representation at its entrance points.
“It has been a long process, but so worth it for both the residents and visitors to Johns Creek…It is absolutely beautiful and as unique as our excellent city,” Smith said.
Artist and sculptor William Massey was selected to create the initial designs for the markers. The design depicts Rodgers Bridge with the Chattahoochee River flowing beneath. Inside the bridge are symbols reflective of the city’s history and residents.
The artist has also created a smaller version of the design for placement at sites not conducive to the full-sized marker. Although multiple outlines were created, residents voted for all gateway markers to share this same design.
“I think the gateway marker is a beautiful piece of artwork for the City of Johns Creek that represents the amazing residents and history of this city,” said CVB Executive Director Stacey Gross.
Johns Creek’s interest in gateway markers first popped up in 2011 when the eyes of the world would focus on the 93rd PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club. Efforts to pursue the markers failed when the expense proved too high for some city officials.
In 2018, the CVB revived the topic. They teamed up with local nonprofit Urban Catalyst Labs for the endeavor after previously working with them on the Johns Creek Tunnel.
After numerous community studies and debates over financing the project, the City Council allocated $64,000 to create the initial marker during a 2019 meeting as a part of their plan for tourism product development. The CVB then opened an online survey as part of a community engagement process to create a design for resident approval. The current design was selected after receiving an overwhelming 570 votes from residents.
“While the Johns Creek CVB has been steadily investing in new assets over the last five years, the gateway marker project became a fundamental necessity for the main thoroughfares entering into Johns Creek,” Smith said. “We needed the City Council to approve the gateway project before it could move forward…It took almost a full year to get each aspect of the project approved. I am so grateful for the continuous [council] support.”
The CVB plans to install a total of six markers over the course of the project as funding is available. Each marker will be installed at major city entrances most used by visitors. The additional five sites are currently being evaluated by an engineering firm to determine any potential issues with grading, visibility or easements.