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Roswell development authority discusses downtown’s future
by James Swift
jswift@neighbornewspapers.com
September 03, 2014 10:44 AM | 1337 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Members of the city’s Downtown Development Authority said they envision big things happening over the next half decade. However, they are also quick to point out several potential developmental constraints in present-day Roswell.

Authority Chair Monica Hagewood led a discussion about the city’s short-term future at an authority meeting last week.

“We know the collective vision,” she said, “but where do we see the downtown market in 2020?”

The list of wants discussed by the authority included hotels, grocers and walkable housing.

“I think we need more office space,” said authority secretary and Sunbelt Business Brokers senior broker David Lyon. “It would have more people working in Roswell as opposed to the restaurant scene, where people are driving in and driving back out … we want feet on the streets.”

Mimms Enterprise CEO Lonnie Mimms mentioned the city’s new unified development code, which took effect in June.

“Within the new code, most things still have to get approved,” he said. “Most things are still conditional, so it’s a matter of finding alignment between what the city council is looking for and what is needed to help them achieve that.” The authority, Mimms said, was figuring out the code — and its impact on development — as they went along.

“There hasn’t been a whole lot of projects that have been brought up under the new code,” he said. “We’re all in a little bit of an unexplored territory right now.”

The city’s infrastructure and connectivity were additional concerns. A big question mark at the present, Mimms said, was how Canton Street could be connected to the Square.

“How do you make the whole stretch walkable in some fashion?” he said.

Lyon seconded the desire to make Roswell more pedestrian friendly. “It’s easier in the Roswell center, for example the Canton Street area,” he said. “As we get into the suburbs, it becomes more difficult.”

Another barrier, Lyon, said were the sizes and prices of downtown parcels. However, he said the authority can play a role in resolving the issue.

“We can possibly assist in the assemblage of land,” he said, “to make it viable for a developer to come in.”

Whatever shape the downtown area takes six years from now, authority members seem to agree private-public partnerships will play prominent roles in paving the path to 2020.

“Roswell has done a good job of working with private development in making it possible for people to come to Roswell,” Lyon said. “And Roswell will continue to do the same in the future.”

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