In 2012, world renowned planner Andres Duany came to Roswell. He and his team were hired by the city to do a master plan for Historic Roswell. His original task was to master plan the area from the river to the historic square but when he visited he was impelled to take a look at the Canton St, Hwy 9 & Magnolia intersection as well. What he envisioned was bold and has kept the city’s imagination moving ever since. In the master plan, he proposed a large square on the grounds behind City Hall that would reroute Hwy 9 around the square and closer to City Hall while creating a formal space that could be fronted by three additional civic buildings.
Unfortunately, the vision could not be made to work due to the high traffic volume on Hwy 9. Since then, the idea has gone through several iterations from Duany’s square to the RDOT’s giant roundabout to Lew Oliver and Alex Paulson’s conceptual master plan with a very formal classic green. The downtown development authority (DDA) felt there was something to the iterations and hired the local firm, JB+a, to draw up a plan.
That plan is fully baked and is designed to complement and build upon the energy that radiates from Canton St. It calls for a beautiful tree-lined green between City Hall and Hwy 9 that will finally connect our most important civic building to the street. It also proposes a number of additional, unique amenities. First, the Faces of War Memorial will become a much more prominent feature. A final decision on where and how it will be positioned has not been made but the outcome will give it the honor and respect that it is due. Second, a beautiful, cozy open-air amphitheater will be built nestled into the trees between the green and Smith Plantation. Third, a group of three buildings including a larger mixed-use building and two smaller outparcel buildings will be built.
Details of use and design for the project haven’t been finalized but suggested uses include restaurants with outdoor seating, corner coffee shop, meeting space, art studios/galleries, water feature/sprayground. There will be enhanced connectivity across the entire project that will improve walkability and make the 400 or so parking spaces at City Hall a better option for parking for anyone visiting Canton St or the new City Green. It’s not bad now and it’ll be even better with the City Green.
It’s time for the city to show a commitment to the heart of Roswell and invest in the future. We have an amazing civic space that has been hidden from view for 20+ years just waiting to be unearthed. The grounds of City Hall and the Smith Plantation need an opportunity to come out of hiding and help expand the walkable center of Roswell. The time is now. City Green will create an excellent civic and cultural asset. It will enhance walkability and it will deliver the much needed active and flexible civic space that is essential to the continued revitalization of our town center.
The plan calls for three phases with an estimated total cost of around $12 million with a little less than half of that coming from the city as there are grants and private dollars that will be in play. The projected return in private development from this project is enormous. The DDA estimates that this project will entice over $200 million in private development in and around our town center.
The Return on Investment alone is a no-brainer! These investments work and there are many case studies to follow; Downtown Woodstock, Glenwood Park, Historic Norcross, Downtown Greenville... A little civic courage can go a long way.
There is some urgency as there are already three walkable town centers currently in some stage of development in our neighboring cities of Sandy Springs and Alpharetta. The new era of walkable, people focused development is upon us and it's time for the city to take a step and commit to building our own walkable village here in Roswell.
You can get more info at www.CityGreenRoswell.org
You can support the project and send your support to the Mayor and Council at