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Sandy Springs economic experts tackle city center
by Noreen Lewis Cochran
ncochran@neighbornewspapers.com
September 20, 2012 09:06 PM | 1029 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Boston-based city planning firm Goody Clancy, which asked residents and business owners for feedback at a city center open house Wednesday, also wants help from the Sandy Springs economic development advisory committee.

Next week, committee members will use their business qualifications to help put the finishing touches on the proposed plan, which they examined Thursday at City Hall during their regular monthly meeting.

While most of the presentation mirrored Wednesday’s, a regulatory aspect was raised in which zoning ordinances will play a role.

Associate Ben Carlson of the firm said the city can help speed redevelopment by cutting down on bureaucracy.

The city can give developers a list of code requirements up front to guide their designs from initial conception and cut back on making changes in existing elevations, drawings and site plans.

“The development review process can be made more predictable and efficient,” Carlson said about the zoning process, which committee member and developer Charlie Roberts said can cost $250,000 to $500,000 just to prepare for a city council vote.

Committee member Josephine Tan asked Carlson for the differences in land acquisition and construction costs between the various scenarios.

“Those will be important in terms of decision-making,” Tan said.

Carlson said “rough estimates” of land acquisition and the value to be created as a result can be worked up for the Oct. 3 meeting.

“There’s going to be a great deal of value creation,” said David Dixon, the firm’s principal in charge of planning and urban design.

As all four scenarios include new multifamily housing, Mayor Eva Galambos reminded the committee of a previous request.

“I want standards for quality apartments,” she said.

Roberts said he wanted a three-year “to-do list,” not “abstract” 15-year scenario projections.

“You should pick the five or 10 things we need to do now and that will stimulate developers to believe it’s really going to happen,” he said. “Be decisive. Don’t leave us without saying, ‘Here’s what the city needs to do first.’”

Galambos said the committee can persuade property owners to get on board with whatever scenario is approved by the city council in November.

“Each one of you is an ambassador to the rest of the business world,” she said. “You are going to be our emissaries to sell this plan to all the different factors that need to actualize it.”

What’s next?

Oct. 3 at 4 p.m., meeting at City Hall, 7840 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs
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