“I think [the city center] will have nothing but positive appeal to people,” said Alpharetta Business Association president Richard Debban.
Though the organization changed its name from the Downtown Alpharetta Trade Association two years ago to reach out to business professionals from other areas of the city, the association still maintains a focus downtown.
“We’re trying to create a heart for the city,” Debban said.
However, the group has grown significantly since the organization shifted from solely a downtown association.
“We’ve got, I think, well over 130 members today, and I would say maybe 85 percent of those are … outside the downtown area. That’s a good thing,” he said.
Debban said Avalon’s proximity to Ga. 400 will draw many to Alpharetta. He thinks the selection of businesses coming to the development will bring a different vibe to the city than those downtown.
“We’re going to be more eclectic downtown … I think Avalon’s going to be a much more upscale and higher-end product,” he said.
Debban, owner of RJD Architect, moved to Alpharetta from Roswell in 1998 and said he felt the city was ready for development and opportunities at that time.
“I came and I saw some pretty neat old buildings that could be purchased and that’s what I did,” he said.
Debban worked with developers on different projects in the city including the shopping center at Main Street Walk, the old convention center building and the Alpharetta Outfitters building.
These days as the city grows, he notices a mix of young people moving to Alpharetta.
The association sponsors the city’s farmers market where Debban often interacts with residents, new and old.
“I go down there quite a bit on Saturdays and spend an hour or two hours and I talk to the people and inevitably I get somebody new every time,” he said.