This is a cross-post from my montly column, Community Design Matters, in The Roswell Current.
If you haven’t noticed, something’s afoot in Roswell. Specifically, in Historic Roswell. It started over a dozen years ago when the city and gritty business owners started nudging Canton Street toward greatness. Now anchored by regionally recognized restaurants and retail, it is known as one of the great places in Atlanta. The next big step was the 4-year community project that ultimately resulted in the approval of the Groveway Hybrid Form-Based Code in April. Let’s not forget the Atlanta Street Livable Centers Initiative completed in 2008 that served as the backbone for later plans. Another critical step was the Midtown Streetscape project and the Roswell 2030 plan that was adopted earlier this year.
On top of all this, we recently created a downtown development authority and the Roswell Business Alliance. The city’s first Strategic Economic Development plan was just finished and presented to the public this summer. We are kicking off a citywide visioning process as well as completely overhauling our zoning codes. We are down to two final alternatives for the Historic Gateway transportation project that will finally eliminate the dangerous reversible lanes. Last but not least, Duany Plater-Zyberk (DPZ) just presented their Master Plan for the Historic District last month. It is simply amazing what has been completed and/or initiated in just the past few years. However, much of this is merely planning and strategy.
City Hall has more plans than it knows what to do with. Now, it’s time to act. The first step is to define the heart and soul of our city. The DPZ Master Plan does just that. It outlines three unique villages from the Chattahoochee to City Hall that build off the amazing diversity of landscape, topography, history and culture that already exist along the Atlanta Street corridor. Those three villages would create walkable destinations that are inherently Roswell, while catering to the people who live here more so than the cars that drive through. They will complement the renovation of Atlanta Street. Residents overwhelmingly want this to happen. The primary landowners are dying for a reason to develop this area. All the city needs to do is provide direction.
Our elected officials have accepted this vision, and are working to give the city the unified vision it needs to achieve greatness. I for one am tired of being a Sandy Springs/Alpharetta sandwich with a side of East Cobb. Roswell is a great city, but it’s great for mainly one thing, housing. Our future lies in communities where people live, work and play, not where they sleep, drive and watch TV. Showing this commitment to walkable, mixed-use, fun neighborhoods in the heart of our city will not only strengthen our conviction to build an incredible place, but it also announces to businesses and neighbors that Roswell is committed to becoming the best city in the region in which to Live, Work and Play.