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Historic Gateway plans hinge on rethinking what is ‘historic’
by Joan Durbin
jdurbin@neighbornewspapers.com
July 25, 2012 03:54 PM | 1247 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Roswell City Council members got their first look at redevelopment concepts for the Atlanta Street corridor from the Chattahoochee River to Marietta Highway.

The plans call for a new civic square near city hall; repositioning the town square and a boulevard concept of low rise shops and housing along the bend in the highway near Allenbrook.

The biggest sticking point in implementing these plans would be the extent of the city’s desire to keep intact all buildings along the corridor that are more than 50 years old.

“I don’t think you could pull this off very well and still keep all those buildings there,” said Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company’s Scott Ball, senior project manager for the Historic Gateway Study.

Ball said the city’s Historic Preservation Commission might want to rethink designations of many of the structures along the corridor. Demolishing some to make way for redevelopment that would revitalize the area might be preferable to keeping what’s there and prohibiting significant alterations to the buildings, he indicated.

Currently, there are “lots of teeny little saddlebag houses that would be very difficult for a modern family to move into if they can’t put on an addition,” Ball said.

The consultants recommend dividing the highway for a short span just south of the intersection with Magnolia Street and installing greenspace in between the roadways. A new civic center would be erected fronting the highway and situated behind city hall.

Near Marietta Highway, focus should shift from the existing town square to redevelopment that includes shops and housing on the east side of the highway in the area encompassing Oxbo Road and Sloan Street. The vision is to make this area almost an extension of Canton Street, Bell said.

The boulevard concept for the southern leg of the corridor is a better choice than splitting the highway into one way northbound and one way southbound, which was one of the options the city has been considering, Ball said. Such a split would be “very hard on retail,” he said, because peak traffic volume on each side would hit for only three hours each day.

Still, it’s never going to be an ideal situation for retail uses there due to the bend in the road and the topography, Ball said. Residential use is likely to be more prevalent.

Council members who commented said they were pleased with the consultant’s plans.

“There are a lot of exciting ideas in this plan,” said Mayor Jere Wood. For it to materialize, however, there needs to be a lot of serious discussions with council about preservation versus redevelopment, he added.

“We’re not going to create a vibrant historic district if we try to preserve every 50-year-old house. Some of these that are, in my mind, historically insignificant houses, have to make way for redevelopment,” he said.

Council was scheduled to initiate those discussions this morning in a community development committee meeting.

Tonight there is an open house from 6 to 8 p.m. in room 220 at city hall for the public to see the Historic Gateway proposals. Ball will be there to present the consultant’s findings.

For more information about the city’s Historic Gateway Study and Transportation project, visit www.roswellgov.com/index.aspx?nid=1441.
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