North Fulton School Redistricting

The public input process for the upcoming North Fulton school redistricting is almost over.  You have until midnight tomorrow (12/14/14) to submit your comments to the county.  With any school redistricting, there are going to be some PO'd people and I'm one of them.  Unfortunately, our nation has a public school system that is anything other than free market and democratic.  If you live in a certain spot, your children are going to a certain school regardless of whether that makes the best sense for the end consumer, end of story.  

The new elementary school on hwy 9 has created some pretty big shifts in Roswell at the elementary and middle school levels.  High schools in Roswell are largely unchanged.  However, there are some notable shifts that will happen with elementary and middle schools on the west side of Roswell.  Proposed maps for elementary and middle are below. (click on the image for the full map).  Black lines show existing boundaries and colors show the proposed boundaries.

 

You will notice that the new school pulls from Roswell North and Mimosa primarily which was to be expected.  I live in Liberty which is next door to the new school so there was no getting away from the fact that my elementary school kids would be going to the new school.  What I didn't expect was to get pulled away from Crabapple Middle in the process.  As the crow flies, Crabapple is right at a mile from our house and our new middle school, Elkins Point, is right at 2.5 miles. 

Neither route would be particularly walkable or bikeable for my kids but the Elkins Point route takes us across two main arteries (HBR and Mansell) causing a significant increase in time by either car or bus.  I can plainly see that Fulton County is trying to keep the feeder system as clean as possible but I really don't know how in Historic Roswell has any meaningful affiliation with Mountain Park when it comes to middle school aged children.  But, alas, we are in suburbia where playdates are planned and parents chauffeur kids from one end of the city to the other by car to

Keep supporting our car dependence for everything Fulton County.  My solution.. build smaller neighborhood focused schools from elementary through high school rather than the standardized education factories we have now.  Who knows, maybe another redistricting will occur before my kids are in middle school.  One can dream... I'll have plenty of time when I driving to our new middle school.

What's Going Here? - Woodstock & Canton

The demolition request public notice signs are up all over the place around the old Vickers Auto Repair shop and the surrounding buildings.  King Lowry Ventures/Miller Lowry is the name on the petition requests and they are looking to consolidate four parcels at the corner of Woodstock Rd and Canton St totaling roughly 1.75 acres.  There hasn't been much detail released about what will go here so I'm going to speculate.

This is a prime parcel at the lesser developed end of Canton Street.  The pricetag to assemble these four lots was likely in the $2M+ ballpark given the $1.4M list price for the Vickers property.  Given that pricetag, this is going to need to be multi-story and with the trend toward mixed-use development taking hold in North Fulton, I definitely see this development headed that way.

I'm predecting some residential, retail and office in this one and it's going to need to be higher end development to make it in this part of town.  Miller Lowry has developed in Historic Roswell before.  You're probably familiar with this development just to the south of this new project.

I've always liked this building and the residential units upstairs with one exception.  That is the fact that it sits just a little too far back from the street.  It should be closer up to the street to help create the type of environment that is present on the south end of Canton Street.  I'm definitely hoping that the new development goes for a smaller setback.  

Another development that Miller Lowry has in the pipeline is at 1075 Canton St which is the old blacksmith property.  This one will tear down the shed behind the historic home and replace it with four townhomes and the plan is to rehab the house that fronts Canton St into (I'm guessing here) a restaurant space.  Here's the rendering that has been filed with the city for that development.

The townhomes look strickingly similar to the Sweet building just up the street.  I think this could be a solid addition to Canton Street but we need to be careful that all Miller Lowry projects don't look the same.  We don't want monotony on our most important street.

That said, I'm guessing that what we get at the corner of Woodstock and Canton Street has a similar feel and tops off at 3 or 4 stories with retail/restaurant on the main floor and some residential and office on the upper floors.  Also, there is plenty of land so don't rule out the possibility that additional buildings go behind the one that will front Canton and Woodstock.

Riverwalk Village: The Site Plan

I was able to get a copy of the site plan today for Riverwalk Village and it looks pretty darn good.  I'm seeing a lot more pros than cons as I dig in.  It utilizes the land and geography nicely and puts appropriate development in the appropriate place.  Here's the plan overlaid on Google Maps.

There are 16 different sections broken out into 7 different categories, each with a slightly different intent and purpose.  I think they have largely gotten these right.  Here are the descriptions for each according to the site plan along with my commentary.

  • A1-A2 - Office District - This area is well located along the western edge to place it closest to 400 which was an intentional decision by the developer to keep the residential and retail further away from the highway.  I'm curious about it being further south on the site though as there will be a lot of commuters driving through to get to the offices.  That could be a positive for the retail and it would be great to be able to get out of the office and walk to the river during lunch break.
  • B1 - Medium Density Residential (Townhomes & Single Family) - The residential is toned down from the East Roswell/Charlie Brown proposal from 2007.  In fact, there are roughly half the number of units coming down to 1500+ from 3000.  I don't see any single family on the site plan but the description calls for it.  We'll see if that happens.  I really like that this B1 parcel it is situated close to the river and what will eventually be more parks and trails in Riverwalk Village.
  • C1-C8 - Mixed Use Development District (Residential & Non-Residential Uses, Such as Retail, Restaurant, Civic, Office, Multi-Family, Entertainment) - This one is a bit tough to envision but the obvious main point is that it will front what appears to be a Main Street that bisects the new development.  This could create a great walkable street on the east side of town that currently has nothing at all close to a walkable urban street.  Or.. It could end up looking plasticy and contrived like Town Brookhaven.  It will hopefully take its inspiration from Serenbe, Downtown Woodstock and Glenwood Park.  I like that there will be a small bridge crossing the lake.
  • D1 (with alternate) - School or Alternate Residential District - This one is well played.  The developer has to expect that their largest opposition is going to come from Martins Landing.  This part of the property abuts 21 single family homes along Trailmore Dr & Trailmore Pl.  So, they place a school that will cater to children with disabilities on the adjacent property.  If for some reason, there is enough objection to the school, they have prepared option two which will be townhomes and multi-family from what I can tell. The one thing that seems a bit ridiculous is that the multi-family and the townhomes each have their own entrance/exit on to Old Alabama.  There should be street connectivity between the properties.
  • E1-E2 - Entertainment District (Restaurant, Retail, Grocery, Multi-Family) - Everyone loves entertainment.  The lone rendering which I shared in my first post on Riverwalk is, from what I can tell along the lake in what looks to be E1.  They've done an excellent job putting this area next to the lake and it appears they will utilize the water in an urban fashion actually building right up to it which differs significantly from most modern development which caters to the environmental memes of water quality protection at all costs.  (One reason we can't develop much at all along the Chattahoochee).  I'm thinking the water in the lake won't be as blue as the rendering depicts though. Whatever they've done, it sure does attract a lot of Rendering People though.  Be prepared to be Entertained!
  • F1 - Hotel District (Hotel, Civic, Multi-Family) - The articles and PR releases floating around are calling for a ~200 key hotel.  That would give this new hotel 28 more rooms than the Doubletree.  It will be positioned directly on the little lake.  Once again, well thought out.  Roswell needs this.  Period!
  • Greenspace - (Parks, Trails, Landscaping) - This is a huge plus for this development and I sure hope they get it right.  There is a real opportunity to differentiate the development from virtually any other in Atlanta.  Mixed-Use with a connection to the Chattahoochee River and the Roswell Riverside Trail.  Wow!  I'd like to see the city jump on the opportunity to finally connect the Big Creek Greenway to the River by somehow extending the trail from Big Creek Park down through this project and to the River.  There aren't many details yet on the greenspace but given what they are doing with the rest of the property, I'm thinking this will be a win.

Our next post will take a look at transportation and potential traffic issues and after that, we'll hypothesize on what this means for Roswell and in particular, the Historic District given that it will have Avalon, Alpharetta City Center and now Riverwalk Village to compete with.

Initial Thoughts on Riverwalk Village

Image: Duke Land Group

The big news this week in Roswell is the $500 million mixed-use project called Riverwalk Village that is being proposed for the southeast quadrant of the Holcomb Bridge/GA400 interchange (paywall link).  Dunwoody based Duke Land Group announced on Tuesday that they will be seeking rezoning to allow for a massive development that could rival Avalon in size.  The AJC broke the story in Wednesday's paper with some details but little in the way of imagery.  

I've been able to find one rendering but have not been able to come up with a site plan yet (stay tuned).

Here are the high level details from the AJC article with my thoughts.

  • 1,556 residences, including active adult housing, single-family attached housing and multifamily units that could be apartments or condos.  - This is about half of what the Roswell East (aka Charlie Brown) project had proposed.  I see this level of density being a major problem for the vocal NIMBYs on the east side of town.
  • Nearly a half-million square feet of space for restaurants and retailers, including a grocery store. - This is a LOT of space.  I'm not sure what to think yet but it wil
  • 1.7 million square feet of office space spread across several mid-rise buildings. That amount of office space is slightly more than the total floor space of Bank of America Plaza in Atlanta.  - Again, this is a LOT of space but the 400 corridor is booming and I'm not doubting this can and would be filled.
  • A hotel with 200 rooms. - Yes PLEASE.  We need another hotel to compete with the Doubletree.  I would like to see one closer to the historic district though.
  • A Swift School campus, a private institution for children with language difficulties. - This is a nice addition and will be a good fit.
  • About 43 percent of the property would be preserved as green space with passive and active recreation amenities, such as walking trails that would connect to nearby neighborhoods and the Chattahoochee River. - I don't see that there would be any way to avoid this given the proximity to the river.  It will be a great addition.
  • An existing apartment community known as Marquis Trace would be demolished. - Great news.  That think is a big POS and significantly underutilizes the land.

I think it's ambitious but doable given that this is one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in North Fulton.  I'm unsure of the developer's background but I'm optimistic.  My biggest concern is the vocal NIMBY force that will organize to once again defeat a project in that area.

So, that's the summary.  As this progresses, it will be one of the biggest stories in Roswell.  I'm looking forward to seeing how the project progresses and wish the developers luck in implementing what I hope will be a great addition to the city of Roswell.

Developments Around Town

There's a lot going on in Roswell these days.  Here's a quick update on what's going on around town that I'm aware of.  If you have any additional items or details, let me know and I'll add them.

Active Developments

New Elementary School (Name TBD) - Our new elementary school on Alpharetta Hwy is moving along.  They are obviously working quickly to get it open for the 2015 school year.  The site has been cleared (you can't miss that) and there has been some pretty extensive grading.

Canton Walk Apartments - This one is going vertical and is starting to make good progress.  I've heard that they hope to start leasing toward the end of the year.  

Forrest Commons - This one is in full swing as well.  A number of foundations have been poured and as of this writing, there are three single family units that are framed.  There are 9 detached units and 13 townhomes slated for this one and prices look to be starting in the $580's.  This one is a Monte Hewitt project and you can find out more on their website here.

Providence Phase II - Lehigh Homes entered into a partnership with Frontdoor communities to build and sell the second phase of Providence which will have 17 townhomes and 3 single family residences. The site is being prepped and there is a lot of activity back there.  I'd suggest not driving back on Webb St to check it out.  These units are starting in the $580's and appear to be securely in the $600's for most of them.  For more info, you can go to www.ProvidenceRoswell.com.

image: Frontdoor Communities

Long Circle - Another project by Lehigh Homes, this one will be putting in three or four single family residences (unsure but will get clarification) at the southwest corner of Long Circle. The site has been cleared and is being prepped currently.  

The Porch Project - Not too far from the aforementioned Long Circle project, this is a single family teardown on Thompson Place that is being done by some friends of mine.  Check out their website to see how they have been working to do all of the work with local Roswell businesses.  www.theporchproject.com

image: Whole Town Solutions

Alstead (formerly Centinnial Walk) - This John Wieland project is in full swing.  The last I saw, there woudl be 80 single family homes, 29 townhomes and 17,500 sq ft of retail on just under 28 acres.  That may have changed. The site has been cleared which any East Roswell readers will already know as you can't miss the red clay as you pass by on Holcomb Bridge.  There is a tiny mixed-use component to this one which is better than nothing but the original plans for this were significantly better when you think about how little true walkability exists in East Roswell (sidewalks and trails do not equal true walkability).

The Village on Pine - This one is at the intersection of Chattahoochee St and Pine St just south of Barrington Hall.  I was never too happy with the overall design of this one as you can see here, but at the end of the day, it's happening.  Acadia Homes has cleared the lot and homes should be going up soon.  The price point on these is in the $400's but there isn't much additional detail available yet. (website)

Strickland & Valley - I'm not sure what the name of this one is going to be but the site has been cleared and at this point there's a bunch of red clay.  There was a lot of debate on the site plan and rezoning request for this one.  I personally feel we ended up with the worse option of the two for the site plan but man.. people can't have headlights shining in their windows.

Sprouts Buildout - For the organic food shoppers, the loss of Harry's to Avalon will leave a void.  I'm guessing that Sprouts will be looking to fill that void.  They are currently upgrading the anchor space in the shopping center behind Chipotle and Starbucks at Mansell & 9.  I'm not sure what the timeframe is for opening but it could be before the end of the year.

Roswell Manor - This one is another piece of land that was a victim of the real estate crash.  JEH Homes has resurrected it and this time around it's going to be built out as 73 single family homes.  This one will collect on to Old Alabama.  The address is 1580 Old Alabama Rd.  The website advertises its proximity to Big Creek Park but this development could have done so much more to foster bike and trail connectivity especially given that it sits between Big Creek Park and the planned Big Creek Parkway.  Prices start in the $300's.  

Weatherford Place - It looks like there is a little bit of construction underway on this long stalled development of uber-eco-friendly homes off Minhinette Dr.  These homes have all the environmental bells and whistles including solar systems and LEED certification. 

 

Proposed

Goulding - This project is a favorite of mine for the connectivity that it will add to our street network. Frontdoor Communities is billing it as the largest infill development in Historic Roswell and it likely is.  There will be 27 townhomes, 13 single family homes and a remodel of the existing Goulding house.  Prices will likely start in the $700k to $800k range.

 

The Watertower (name TBD) - This project is on Woodstock Rd between the water tower and the cemetery.  Lehigh Homes (builders of Providence and the Long Circle development mentioned above) is currently working through the approval process having had their neighborhood meeting and going before the Historic Preservation Commission and City Council in August and September.  This project will be more townhome product and should be an interesting addition to the historic district.

835 Mimosa - This is a very interesting development that could energize Mimosa Blvd.  The proposed plan will renovate or rebuild the existing home with a Neel Reed look and put 8 townhomes around the existing home.  The architecutre would be similar to the Bricks in the Mill Village and is being designed by Lew Oliver.

Canton Street Townhomes - I'm unsure of the name of this potential development but it is just starting the approval process.  It will be along Canton Street just between Woodstock Rd and Minhinette Dr. 

Townhomes at Creekview Condominiums - Not many details are available on this one but from the looks of it, the owner of the property surrounding the unfinished Creekview Condominiums would like to develop townhomes on the areas of the property where the two other condo buildings were never built.

Image: @ScottLong

Hill Street Commons - Another proposed development in the Groveway district.  This one looks to have 24 townhomes and will be on the lot on the southwest corner of the Myrtle & Hill St intersection.  

City Green - This one will be a long term project but I like keeping tabs on it.  The most recent news is that the design and engineering were funded with $587k set aside in the 2015 budget.  This is big news and we should expect to see more details in the next few months.  If you would like to show your support.. click here!

Kingswood Subdivision (12160 Etris Rd) - This is pretty standard single family home subdivision that ws approved for 25 lots.  It will add a tiny bit of road connectivity to the intersection of Etris and Kent Rds.

Traditions at Roswell (Hardscrabble/Crossville) - This one is about 14 single family homes on about 5 acres.  It's a pretty standard subdivision that does not add to road connectivity and opens up to Hardscrabble just east of the Crossville intersection.

Canton Street Walk Resurrected - I haven't heard much about this one since late last year but I'm keeping it on the proposed list until I hear otherwise.  This project that I wrote about here will fill in an empty lot within the Providence development.  

52 Sloan Street - The owner of this property is hoping to tear down the historic structure circa 1925 and build new.  The building is currently badly burned but the HPC is not sure whether it is in need of demolition.  More to come here.  Either way, with the fire and the loss of the large tree, this property has seen better days.

This Google Streetview image shows the house in better times. The building is now badly burned, the large tree to the right is now a huge stump but.. you'll be glad to know that the street signs are still there in all their glory.The proposed elevations look nice and if approved will be a quality addition to the street. They will definitely be an improvement on the charcoal facade that's there currently.

Rumored

Vickers - What I have heard here is that the property is under contract to be sold.  The dollar figures are well over $1M.  It'll be interesting to see what might go here.

Dolvin House - The word on the street is that a redevelopment of the property surrounding the Dolvin House (aka the Roswell White House) on Bulloch Ave bay be in the works.  I think a cottage court style development surrounding the historic home would work well here.  Given that the property is listed as under contract, I'd say there is definitely something in play.

image: Sonenberg Company

Dead Projects

Azalea Townhomes - This would have brought 22 townhomes and 2 single family homes to the lot at Azalea Dr across from Azalea park.  The owner was also planning on donating some land on the river side of the property to the city to build a new boat house for the Crew teams that operate on the river.  Oversimplifying, there were a lot of water concerns coupled with some vocal NIMBY opposition.  It would have been nice to see added connectivity for the neighborhoods to the north to get to the river which would have eased some of the traffic at the 9/Riverside/Azalea and Azalea/Willeo intersections.  Oh Well!

The Blacksmith House (1075 Canton Street) - This one is dead from what I understand.  It would have added four townhomes behind the house at 1075 Canton St.  

Holcomb Bridge @ Scott Rd - This proposed development has been fraught with challenges.  A couple biggies were the site which has some water and topography issues.  I was a big fan of the initial proposal which would have added connectivity into Martins Landing from HBR but apparently when solutions are proposed that will help alleviate traffic problems, the same people that complain about the traffic problems don't like the solutions... so a second proposal came back without the connectivity but as of last check, the developer has dropped their application.  

East West Alley Master Plan - Info Sessions..

If you are interested in what is going on with the East West Alley Master Plan, there are some meetings coming up later this month and later this summer that you will want to try to attend.  The Schedule is posted at the end of this post.  The first of the meetings will be next Wednesday at City Hall Room 220 at 5pm.  I'm really interested in seeing what concepts will be discussed.  Personally, I hope they look at making the alleys intos woonerfs (shared space where pedestrians and bicyclists have priority).  Additionally, we should look at paving them in brick from building face to building face.  This would add character and further enhance the pedestrian focus.

Here are a few imags from Jen Kempson's Integrated Alley Handbook that focuses on converting alleys in Seattle into actual livable places that add value to the city.  We could take a page from these concepts..

 

 

Meetings regarding Concept Plans
 
July 9, 2014 at 5:00p.m., City Hall, Room 220: Public Open House to present and discuss concept plans
 
July 9, 2014 at 7:00p.m., City Hall, Council Chambers: HPC Hearing - Discussion of Concept Plans with HPC
 
July 14, 2014 at 5:30 p.m., City Hall, Room 220: Work Session with Mayor and City Council to present and discuss concept plans
 
 
Meetings regarding Draft Master Plan
 
August 13, 2014 at 6:00p.m., City Hall, Council Chambers: HPC Hearing – Discussion of Draft Master Plan with HPC
 
August 19th, 2014 at 6:00p.m., City Hall, Room 220: Public Open House to present Draft Master Plan

August 25, 2014 at 5:30 p.m., City Hall, Room 220: Work Session with Mayor and City Council to review and discuss Master Plan

September 10, 2014 at 7:00 p.m., City Hall, Council Chambers: Present Master Plan for Adoption at Mayor and City Council Meeting

 

 

Shared Space = Mind Blown

I've been exploring the concept of Shared Space in transportation lately and am obsessed with the intersection implemented in Poynton, UK.  Shared Space is a traffic concept that gives equal rights to all modes of transportation within the right of way.  I can't explain it any better than the clip below.  

If you like what you see, I was recently able to spend some time with the designer of that intersection, Ben Hamilton-Baillie, at CNU22.  His presentation was excellent and in some cases mind blowing.  Here it is in its entirety if you are interested.

And finally, here's a presentation that I was able to find that does an excellent job explaining Shared Space and providing some additional examples of real world implementations.

So, this concept is becoming increasingly popular as it creates place, reduces traffic congestion and increases safety..  When can we do this here in Roswell?

 

Town Hall Roswell | Building a Walkable & Bikeable City

The 4th installment of Town Hall | Roswell is tomorrow night at Muse & CO Fine Art.  The topic is Building a Walkable & Bikeable City.  I'll be doing a brief presentation and then I'll be moderating and participating in a panel made up of Lew Oliver of Whole Town Solutions, Steve Acenbrak of Bike Roswell and Matt Foree of Bike Roswell.

Come check it out tomorrow at 7pm.  RSVP Here It's free for RoswellNEXT members and $10 for the general public.  If you purchase at the door, tickets are $15.

Placemaking 101: Straight Outta Compton

Roswell Parks & Rec.. we love you.. but do you love us??  Your fence tells me you don't.

The fence at Roswell Area Park Pool is definitely meant to keep people out.

Could our parks and rec department, the best in the state, do a better job of placemaking?  I've written before about their obsession with the Security Alert signs.  

Makes me feel so welcome and safe.

On the topic of fences, I truly think we could do better evidenced by the Sunnyside Gus Ryder Pool fence in Toronto.

The fence still exists and a person who climbs this and enters the pool is not the responsibility of the city at that point.Seriously, you would think our parks were straight outta compton with the barbed wire and the Security Alert signs.  

Goulding Place Single Family Renderings

While sifting through the upcoming city meetings schedule, I came across the first renderings I've seen of the Front Door Communities single family product that will be going up at Goulding Place.  I'm a little disappointed by the percentage of homes that have front loader garages.  That really isn't in keeping with the rest of Goulding Place even though the builder is making some effort to maintain a consistent architecture.  The biggest thing I like about this project is the opportunity for connectivity.

Here are the images beginning with the Site Plan..