I’m a sucker for lists but I don’t normally make them myself. However, there is so much going on around here that it’s hard to keep track. So, I’m putting together a list of the top 10 projects to watch in 2014. In the past year, the stage has been set to make this year one of most transformative years ever in North Fulton. These projects will increase walkability and overall livability in North Fulton.
10. Gwinnett Tech Expansion - Construction of the new Alpharetta Gwinnett Tech campus will be in full swing in 2014, keeping them on track for a Jan 2016 opening. The depressing thing about the campus is that it appears to be a very 90’s and early 00’s suburban office park site design which shows 3 story’ish buildings surrounded by a sea of parking.
9. North Fulton CID Blueprint 2.0 - The North Fulton CID released its vision for the next 7-10 years in Dec. and there are some projects that may gather momentum in 2013. They focus on reducing traffic congestion, adapting to changing marketplace trends, and eliminating bureaucratic hurdles.
8. Roswell Downtown Development Authority - The DDA was relatively quiet in 2013 but expect Roswell to make some waves in the next year with plans for large scale projects in the heart of Roswell. They launched their website (www.roswelldda.com) in 2013 and have posted several theoretical master plan images. Their plans for a park or green at City Hall would be a big win if executed properly.
7. MARTA Rail - In late 2013, MARTA officially announced that it is looking to extend from North Springs station further north to Windward Parkway. This was received with mixed emotions but many people recognize that more lanes on 400 is going to be costly if not impossible. The current preferred alternative is to extend heavy rail and add five stations (Northridge, Holcomb Bridge, North Point, Haynes Bridge and Windward). Expect more news on potential funding sources and routes in 2014.
6. More Roundabouts - In the past two years at least four roundabouts have been opened in North Fulton. Readers are familiar with my thoughs on roundabouts and there is empirical evidence that they improve traffic flow, reduce crashes and increase safety. More of them are coming to intersections near you.
5. Roswell Unified Development Code - Roswell has been opening its doors to business over the past 18 months. There have been several high priority corporate announcements in that timeframe. That said, the zoning codes are confusing web of red tape and must be changed. In 2014, expect passage of the new UDC and the accompanying Design Guidelines. This will send a message to developers that Roswell is serious about redevelopment. It will also enable a number of projects to finally take a step toward reality. There are several notable projects that are simply waiting for UDC adoption before going to the city to begin the process.
4. Canton Street & Downtown Alpharetta Infill - No fewer than five projects around Historic Roswell have been brought before the city in the last several months to add townhomes and residences around the Historic Roswell area. There are 80+ total units proposed and a number of them are likely to be finished this year. Add this to the 320 new apartments and the Historic Roswell area could be netting 500+ new residents in the next 12-18 months. Alpharetta’s downtown is experiencing a similar trend albeit with more multi-acre lots available for development due to large site foreclosures following the real estate crash. These developments will help drive local businesses in the downtown areas that thrive on pedestrian traffic.
3. Roswell City Walk Apartments - Or should I say, Down Goes Frazier! The horribly designed 1960’s era Frazier Street Apartments were demolished in December making way for Lennar Miltifamily’s 320 unit luxury apartment complex in the heart of Roswell. The construction will take much of the year but the first tenants are expect in late 2014. When complete, this development will be a game changer and will serve as a catalyst for future projects. Grocery store anyone??
2. Alpharetta City Center - It would be hard to top this project given its hefty price tag ($31 million), laudable site plan and ambitious construction schedule. In the next 12 mos, you will see the heart of the new Alpharetta change dramatically. Already, there are some new streets in place, with a roundabout, and the new City Hall building is beginning to take shape. The parking deck and library will follow not too far behind and the addition of park space and a pedestrian orientation will be impressive. This, as previously mentioned, is helping spur adjacent development.
1. Avalon - This project dwarfs all the others on this list. It’s hard to downplay the significance of this behemoth. Total economic impact could be over $1 billion when all is said and done. The construction at the site over the past 2 months has been frenetic and leaves little doubt that North American Properties will hit their Q4’14 target for opening phase I. This project is regionally significant and is being watched by the commercial real estate industry nationally. The combination of live, work and play gives Avalon major mixed-use cred and makes it unlike almost any other development in the region. The tenant list is impressive with top-notch national and local restaurants and retailers. When Avalon opens its streets in late 2014, it will serve as a showcase for walkability and urbanism in a suburban environment. It will be interesting to see how it impacts other popular destinations such as North Point Mall and Canton St.
That’s a lot to chew on and undoubtedly, something else will creep up in 2014. There are even some regionally significant projects that you will want to keep an eye on; the Stadiums (Braves & Falcons), Atlanta Street Car, College Football Hall of Fame, National Center for Human Rights, and Buckhead Atlanta just to name a few.
Happy New Year and have a great 2014!