NUR Weekly - TSPLOST, Parking, Restaurants, Blocks & Mixed-Use

I keep coming up with good ideas for this weekly digest so I had to add a section.  The last part is dedicated to fun stuff and may or may not relate to what we discuss on the NUR blog.  This week, Joan Durbin at the North Fulton Neighbor was on fire with several notable stories.

What’s Up in Roswell

Holcomb Bridge/GA 400 Improvements Tied to TSPLOST - North Fulton Neighbor

Here’s the gist from city council woman Betty Price:

Whether or not T-SPLOST passes, some interim improvements will be evident in the near future. With additional funding and guided by the recommendations of this study, whole-scale improvements can be made in the future that will revitalize this inadequate intersection, bringing with it a welcoming and functional entrance to Roswell from 400.  

Pay Parking May Come to Roswell Historic District - North Fulton Neighbor

My prediction...  People are going to hate this more than they hate looking for a space.  If you’re willing to walk 200 yards, there is NO parking problem.  Key Excerpt:

The locations are the lot next to Wells Fargo on the west side of Canton Street and a lot on the east side between Ga. Hwy 9 and Canton Street that used to be the old city fire department years ago. 

Roswell’s Red Light Cameras May be Relocated - North Fulton Neighbor

This is fairly controversial to some.  Here’s my 2 cents.  These cameras tend to reduce deadly ‘perpendicular’ or ’T-Bone’ crashes at intersections but increase rear-end collisions.  Generally, anything that causes people to pay more attention

Four Canton St Restaurants on Jezebel Magazine’s Top 100 Restaurants for 2012

This is a great sign that Canton Street is doing all the right things.  Little Alley Steak, Inc Street Food, Salt Factory and Table & Main made the list in that order.  You’ll have to check out the magazine to see where they weighed in.

4th Annual Trilogy Trolley Crawl Tix on Sale

 

Top 5 Articles of the Week

What is a Block? - Better Cities and Towns

The block is something that confuses most people.  This article takes a stab at defining it and does a pretty good job.  Here’s how they define one:

the definition of a block should be based on the legal structure of urbanism. Therefore, a block is legally defined as private property surrounded by public rights-of-way. By this definition, a block is one of the two fundamental units of urbanism (alongside the right-of-way) reflecting the two types of property (private and public, respectively).

The article also uses an example from up the road in Alpharetta to illustrate the absurdities of suburban ‘blocks.’  They managed to find one has a perimeter of 12 miles!  We need more connectivity and smaller blocks. 

Don’t get Mixed Up on Mixed-Use - PlaceShakers

Mixed-use is one of those terms like sustainability.  It is over used and often used out of context.  This article lays it out pretty well:

Today, the most common misunderstanding I find about mixed-use is that most people think it equates, on any street or in any context, to a shopfront with housing above.

In short, mixed-use makes for three-dimensional, pedestrian-oriented places that layer compatible land uses, public amenities, and utilities together at various scales and intensities. This variety of uses allows for people to live, work, play and shop in one place, which then becomes a destination for people from other neighborhoods. As defined by The Lexicon of the New Urbanism, mixed-use is multiple functions within the same building or the same general area through superimposition or within the same area through adjacency… from which many of the benefits are… pedestrian activity and traffic capture.

How to Get a Trader Joe’s - Smyrna is signing a petition - Smyrna Patch 

I’d love it if it were just this easy to get a grocery store where you want it.  I’m sure we could collect a lot of signatures to get one here in Historic Roswell.  This commenter said it best:

Ultimately Smyrna has to prove we have the demographics to ensure Trader Joe's can survive. It's not about where we want it and why. Will Trader Joe's consider Smyrna and why?

Cops Set Up Sting to Keep Pedestrians Safe - AJC

Read this article, you just might learn something that will keep you out of trouble when walking or driving.  Here’s a stat that I wanted to be sure got out there.

...four people are hit by cars each day in the metro Atlanta area. (Sally) Flocks said between 70 and 80 pedestrians are killed each year in the metro area and more than 20 percent within 100 feet of a transit stop.

Alpharetta Downtown Development Picks Up Speed - ABC

Keep moving forward Alpharetta!  This will be a big boost to walkability in North Fulton.  I thought this excerpt was noteworthy:

In the past decade, other suburban cities including Woodstock, Norcross and Suwanee have tried to reinvent their downtowns by launching major projects.  Those ideas reflect principles of New Urbanism, a countermovement to the development patterns in the 80s and 90s across metro Atlanta that to suburban sprawl. New Urbanism aims to create public spaces, such as a city center, where people can congregate in parks that are near shopping, restaurants and entertainment.

Unfortunately, Roswell didn’t get a mention in the article but we are doing great things and our historic district has arguably been more successful than any of the towns that were mentioned even though they pursued very high profile projects.

Fun Stuff

Church vs Beer Map - Guess Where Georgia Is

Beijing’s Olympic Ruins - Much worse than Atlanta’s Ruins

Top 10 Best & Worst Cities to Live - This ranking used a very interesting methodology.  Number one on the list, Hong Kong.  Last on the list, Tehran.  Best US City, Washington DC.  

What the World Would Look Like Covered in Lego - Simple and Fun.. I’d love to drive under this bridge..

Weekly Top 5: HBR400, Agenda 21, Health Risks, Privatization, Cities of the Future

Here's the weekly recap of all of my readings last week.  Enjoy...

What’s up in Roswell

Holcomb Bridge - Georgia 400 Plans Unveiled - NorthFulton.com -  The long term plan for the HBR-400 interchange was released this week.  It looks like a great plan to improve virtually all aspects of the intersection; traffic flow, pedestrian and bike paths and aesthetics.  The project would take about 20 years to be complete and, oh yeah, almost $100M.  If you like it, there is a sizable portion of that money allocated to the project in the TIA2012 penny sales tax.  BTW.. I’m voting yes.  

July 4th Celebration at Roswell High School - That’s pretty much the biggest thing going on this week in Roswell.  It’s not urbanism related but I figured it was worth noting.  

Pure Taqueria Making Progress - The building frame is going up right now.  Can’t wait for some tasty Mexican food later this summer!

Ryan Pernice of Table in Main on Using Twitter - Ryan is quoted in this Restaurant Management Magazine article about how T&M uses Twitter to entice his followers.  They send out a number of pictures of their specials.  I’m a follower and am often left with my mouth watering.  Follow them on twitter  @TableAndMain for some great pics.. You’ll get hungry.

Economic Development Meeting Scheduled - There will be a public meeting at City Hall (room 220) on 7/12 from 7-830pm to present the new Strategic Economic Development Plan to the public.

Top 5 Articles of the Week 

Georgia and the UN: Why Walking Leads to One-World Government - The Economist

...a former candidate for governor now running for commissioner of Cobb County, just north of Atlanta, condemned plans to build a jogging and biking trail alongside a highway because, "That's Agenda 21. Bicycles and pedestrian traffic as an alternative form of transportation to the automobile."

You want more?  You’ll have to read the article.  This one will make your head spin. 

The Grave Health Risks of Unwalkable Communities - The Atlantic Cities

With an obesity epidemic, weight-related childhood issues and soaring healthcare costs, the point of this article should resonate with all of us.  

Safe, walkable neighborhoods are not just an amenity, they're a matter of life or death. They create environments where we can live active, engaged lives. And more walking brings more social interaction, more time outdoors, more recreation, more smiles and more "life" in every sense. 

A Georgia Town Takes the Peoples Business Private - NY Times

Sandy Springs (aka “the model”) is highlighted for it’s almost complete privatization of local government in this article. I liked this quote:

Drive around and you’ll see a nondescript upscale suburb, where the most notable features are traffic lights that seem to take five minutes to turn green. There is no downtown, or at least anything that looks like a main street. Instead, there are strip malls with plenty of usual-suspect franchises — although one strip mall, oddly enough, includes a small museum that tells the story of Anne Frank. 

Three Atlanta Schools to Watch - Grading Atlanta

This post has some excellent analysis that is probably much more predictive than most people realize.  In it, blogger Jarod Apperson takes a look at the demographic shifts going on within the Atlanta Public School system.  Some of the data is telling and goes with my thinking that the schools that are great now... might not be so great in 15 years.  A long time ago, the in-town schools were the best schools in the Region.  Will that be the case in the future?  Here’s an excerpt:

Toomer (Elementary) underwent the most dramatic shift with the percent of white students rising from 0% to 23%.  Bolton Academy was not far behind with the percent of white students rising from 5% to 19%.

The 15 Hottest US Cities of the Future - Business Insider

This list was actually not that surprising to me.  First, Atlanta is not in it. No surprise there.  The two southeastern cities that were on the list were Nashville and Raleigh which seem to be becoming more desirable than our region.  Look at the list and think about the implications of the TIA2012 referendum.  I’d say that Atlanta might be able to budge its way back into a list like this if the Beltline becomes a reality.

Other Stuff

Bike Sharing Coming to Charlotte

Crabapple Plan Taking Shape

Group Fights Continuation of GA400 Toll 

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Weekly Top 5 - Homeownership, Trickle Up, Kasim Reed, Biking & Walking, Bad Architecture

Here's what we found this week out there.. 
What's up in Roswell...
This Tuesday, the final public input meeting will be held for the Holcomb Bridge Road Corridor Study from 5 to 7 pm at the Holiday Inn at 909 Holcomb Bridge Road.
The Groveway Architectural Design Guidelines were released.  Check out the document here.  This document clarifies a lot of the questions that were found in the hybrid form-based code document.
Top 5 Articles of the Week

Homeownership Means Little to Economic Growth - The Atlantic Cities

OUCH! The truth hurts.

Robert Shiller of Yale University documents that from "1890 to 1990, the rate of return on residential real estate was just about zero after inflation." Other studies have shown how America’s historic over-investment in housing has distorted its economy, leading to under-investment in technology and skills. Or as Nobel prize-winning Columbia University economist Edmund Phelps bluntly states it: "To recover and grow again, America needs to get over its 'house passion.'"

Tools for Trickle Up Economics - Place Shakers

This article made it to the top 5 simply because of the quote below. Think of how many worthless buildings we have dotting the landscape that were not beautiful when they were constructed and are decaying now with little hope of ever becoming commercially viable again.  Some of the solutions to the conundrum that the post recommends are Form-Based Codes, Updating Infrastructure Standards and ceding more control to localities.

I hope that you of San Diego, whose city is just entering on its great period of development, will recognize what so many old communities have failed to recognize. That beauty is not only well worthwhile for its own sake, but that it is valuable commercially. Keep your waterfront and develop it so that it may add to the beauty of your city. Do not let a number of private individuals. . . make it hideous with buildings, and then force your children to pay them an exorbitant sum to get rid of the ugliness they have created. - Teddy Roosevelt

Mayor: Conversation over T-SPLOST too ‘esoteric’ - Creative Loafing

I can’t tell you how much I loathe the conversation going on about the transportation tax right now.  The opening paragraph of this article sums up my thoughts pretty nicely below... no ned to say more (but I will in this month’s Roswell Current).

Bickering over the number of lanes on a road project. Debating whether the Atlanta Beltline will reduce a Cherokee County soccer mom's commute time. Or, for that matter, if a Sugarloaf Parkway expansion will help a Little Five Points barista have better access to transit.

House Republicans Ramp Up War on Safe Biking and Walking - Sierra Club Compass

It’s no secret that we like walkability and bikability at NUR.  We recognize that not all areas are walkable and bikable and accept that they never will be.  Cars are necessary tools just like a hammer and chainsaw but I generally don’t use a hammer or a chainsaw for every task that I do.  That being said, our national legislature continues to pursue a ‘cars only’ agenda.. the four bullets below is all you need to know from this Sierra Club post.

 

  • Nationwide, biking and walking account for almost 12% of all trips, yet biking and walking infrastructure receives less than 2% of all federal transportation funding.
  • But as Senate and House negotiators enter the final three weeks of negotiations over a transportation bill, House Republicans are demanding that the Senate drop provisions that will make biking and walking safer across the country
  • One particularly egregious demand from House Republican negotiators is that the Senate eliminate the Safe Routes to School program.
  • 83% of Americans support maintaining or increasing funding for biking and walking, including 80% of Republicans. 

 

25 Buildings to Demolish Right Now - ca Home & Design

I agree with most of the buildings on this list.. most notably the Boston City Hall.  Yikes!  So, what buildings in Roswell need to be “Demolished Right Now?”  I’d have to say the AT&T building on Oak Street is on the list.  How about the entire south east quadrant of the HBR/400 interchange? 

Weekly Top 5 - Zoning, Walkability, Strip Malls, Street Trees, Millennials

This week, we have a little bit of everything for you.  There is so much to talk about in Roswell that I’m starting off with a Roswell top 5 and then getting into a more general top 5.  Enjoy! 

 

Top 5 From Around Roswell 

Roswell Seeks Input on Unified Development Code - Roswell Neighbor - Our city is undergoing a complete revision of its zoning code over the next two years.  The first public meeting to kick this effort off will be on 6/20 from 6pm to 730pm at City Hall.  

Roswell Hosts Holcomb Bridge Open House - Roswell Neighbor - There will be a public information open house on 6/26 at 5pm at the Holiday Inn at 909 Holcomb Bridge Rd.   The Roswell DOT will be presenting their recommendations for changes to the HBR/400 interchange to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety.

Street Closure for Alive After 5! - Finally, it’s a true block party!  This has been needed for a while.

Pasti’s Looks to Replace Windows - RoswellGov  - Pasti’s is looking to open up and liven up their facade by replacing their windows with retractable glass garage door style windows.  I think this will really help that building engage the street a little bit more.  Plus, it takes the building back to it’s roots when it was a car repair shop.

Fulton’s Mobile Food Trucks to Stop in Roswell - Roswell Patch - This isn’t the type of food truck that has become so trendy these days.  This truck is more of a grocery store on wheels that is meant to serve areas in Fulton county that are lacking in grocery stores, aka food deserts.  The truck will be at Zion Baptist Church every second and fourth Wednesday at 1pm.

 

Top 5 From Around the Web - The Atlantic Cities was on fire this week.  I honestly could have filled up five spots with just articles from that site.  However, we did spread the wealth a little bit.  Enjoy this week’s reading.

The Need for Walkable Growth Near MARTA Stations - ATLUrbanist - This post makes a pretty good case for what we all know to be true, that our MARTA stations don’t work very well because cars don’t ride trains.. people ride trains.  Unfortunately, MARTA built a lot of stations to focus on getting cars to the trains rather than the trains to the people.  

Debating the Root Causes of Zombie Infrastructure - The Atlantic Cities - This article is a perfect example of what everyone who wants to build more walkable, livable environments is up against.  Check out the ‘beautiful’ strip mall.

New Evidence that City Trees Reduce Crime - NRDC Switchboard - We need more trees.. this comes on the heels of another article that points out that income inequality can be discerned from google maps. Both of these are interesting reads and point to the importance of trees which we have no shortage of here.  However, what we do have a shortage of is political will to battle GDOT to allow larger trees along our streets.  Are you tired of seeing crape myrtles?

Strip Malls and Big Box Linked to Increased Traffic Deaths Among Seniors - The Atlantic Cities - The scary part about this is that we just don’t get it... see the second article in this week’s top 5.  A telling statistic:

..in areas with strip malls, crashes increased 2.5 percent. In areas with big box shopping centers, crashes increased 7.2 percent. Pedestrian-scaled retail centers, on the other hand, were found to correspond with a 2.9 percent decrease in crashes. Crashes were higher on arterial roads and lower in areas with higher amounts of slower side streets. For older pedestrians and cyclists, arterial thoroughfares and big box shopping centers were associated with significant increases in crashes – 28 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively.

When are we going to get it that we need to be concentrating our infrastructure dollars and development on building fine grained, walkable places.

Young People are Driving Less and Not Because They’re Broke - GOOD - Another piece demonstrating the shifting demographics that will ensure suburbia is the second choice for the largest generation in American history.  If Roswell is to thrive in the coming decades, we need to get going building a fine grained, walkable city that will meet the coming demographic time bomb...  Here’s an interesting excerpt:

Perhaps Millennials have soured not only on the price of cars, gasoline, and upkeep—but also on the hassles of parking, the drudgery of traffic, and the negative effect cars have on urban life, air quality, and personal wellbeing. Or as Michael Hagerty, an auto journalist, wrote for AlterNet last month, many Millennials are “just plain sick of [driving] after spending 16 to 20 years with Suburbans strapped to their asses several hours a day.”

NUR Top5 - Traffic, Soccer, Entertainment Districts, Walkable Urbanism

We're once again trying something new here.  The plan is to post this weekly.  Each week, I will be sifting through the noise out there (I already do that) to bring you the top five stories of the week related to new urbanism, complete neighborhoods and Roswell.  First though, please check out my most recent article in the Roswell Current, The Elusive Neighborhood Grocery Store.  In no particular order, here’s what we have this week.

Chicagos Ambitious Plan for Zero Traffic Fatalities - The Atlantic Cities

Chicago wants to eliminate all pedestrian, bicycle and overall traffic crash related fatalities by 2050.  I’d love to see Roswell take on a challenge like this.  We should start by lowering all of our current 25 mph speed limits to 20 mph.  The 20 is Plenty movement is a great one that will reduce deaths worldwide if it can take root.  I also think our obsession with adding more and more traffic signs to our roads is counterintuitive.  People tend to drive more recklessly when they feel they don’t need to anticipate and pay attention.  Road signs and safety features have been proven in some cases to reduce driver awareness or increase complacency and in many cases have no impact on safety (they just make our city uglier).

Urban Entertainment Districts: Blocks Where No One Has Fun - Salon.com

Reading this, you can’t help but conjure up images of Atlantic Station, Lindberg Center, the proposed Avalon development in Alpharetta and Buckhead Atlanta development in Buckhead.  Although, not exactly what the article is referring to, they are close enough as they are manufactured environments devised primarily for corporate profit.  Atlantic Station and Lindberg Center have a distinctly plastic feel.  The jury is still out on Avalon and Buckhead Atlanta.  There are dozens of other spots that feel authentic such as Canton Street, Va Highlands, Inman Park, Downtown Decatur, and the old Buckhead Village... that grew up incrementally.  I think incremental growth is the key.  Roswell should be wary of any situation where one developer is planning on developing a huge tract of land all at once to create a place... You run the risk of that place being distinctly corporate and not distinctly Roswell.  (now, all of the these corporate developments are good but they likely will never reach the greatness of an incrementally incubated environment)

Arizona DOT Study: Compact, Mixed-Use Development Leads to Less Traffic - StreetsBlog

This one is no secret but the article has some great data.  It is applicable to Roswell primarily in the Groveway area as it is the only area in our city that has a true grid system with potential to be built out as a Mixed-Use environment (if you assume our NIMBYs will continue to block any action at the HBR/400 interchange).  The study basically concludes that as net residential density increases, daily vehicle miles traveled per capita decreases.  It talks about the added benefits of the grid distributing traffic more evenly than the sprawl arterial system as well as the park-once ability when visitors come to a mixed-use area.  There isn’t a need to go back to the car to drive to the next parking lot over.  Why?  Because it’s more interesting to walk there.

Atlanta Needs a New Football Stadium, But Not For the Falcons - Curbed Atlanta

I had originally thought this article in the AJC addressing recent Stadium cost overruns and overzealous revenue projections would be appropriate for the Top 5.  However, I loved the idea from Curbed Atlanta that we need a soccer stadium instead of a new NFL stadium.  Recruiting an MLS team to Atlanta would be big.  Curbed thinks the right spot for a soccer specific stadium would be along Northside Dr by the Atlanta Water Works.  However, I think our own 400/HBR intersection would be a really sweet spot.  Roswell, could stake a claim to a sports franchise and it would then make even more sense for a MARTA connection in Roswell.  We have a large Latino community and the northern burbs are ripe with young soccer talent that would love to attend the games.  The Real Salt Lake team is located in the suburb of Sandy which is very similar to North Fulton in demographic... it’s worth a shot.

Now Coveted: A Walkable, Convenient Place - NY Times Opinion 

We’ve written about Christopher Lienberger here before.  He basically coined the dichotomy of Walkable Urbanism vs. Drivable Suburban development.  He makes the case as we have as well that walkable urbanism is spreading beyond our large city centers and actually into our smaller cities and towns.  This is mainly due to a change in preference amongst our two largest generations.  This is nothing new but reaffirms virtually everything that NUR is about.  Roswell, needs to get in gear quickly to meet the coming storm of demand/need for walkable urbanism.  

2012 Outlook

I meant to put this together last month but unfortunately this part-time blogger just didn’t have enough time.  Anyway, it’s always interesting to take a look into the crystal ball and see where we will be in the future.  This year, we are going to take a stab at what will happen in Roswell and around the metro area in 2012 as well as recap some of the bigger changes we've seen in and around the Historic District.  It's shaping up to be an interesting year in many ways.  Check out our recap, thoughts and predictions in each of the areas below:

2011 Recap - Keep up the Good Work Roswell!

 

  • Midtown Streetscape - Initial work has been completed and is a great improvement.
  • Norcross|Grimes|Warsaw Roundabout - This has been a huge hit.
  • Oak Street Streetscape Improvements - This came together nicely.  The street no longer looks like an industrial dump.
  • Wayfinding and Road Signs - These have added even more character to the HD.
  • Info Kiosks - Well done, they still need to get the info on them but the kiosks and the maps look great.
  • Improved Bus Stops - These are a great improvement for the neighborhood.
  • Table & Main - A great addition to the Roswell Restaurant Scene.
  • Roswell Provisions - How can you not love this place? Nice addition to Canton St.
  • Roswell Tap - This was a good addition along hwy 9.  We miss suburbanite pizza but we'll take the tap.
  • Roswell Restaurant Week - The 1st annual event was a hit.
  • Renew Social Ventures - The rehab of their building has been well done and we appreciate what the organization is doing.

 

Roswell 2012 

Food

Food Access - One of the biggest obstacles to making the Historic District a vibrant living spot is the lack of a walkable or bikable grocery store.  We think there may be an announcement sometime in 2012 about a small(er) grocery store going in somewhere near the HD.  Unfortunately, it won’t be a Trader Joe’s or a locally owned market.  A Fresh Market would be good or even a Publix GreenWise Market.  However, it will most likely be a Walmart Neighborhood Market.  So, our HD might just be graced with the beautiful tan and green color scheme that WMNM's are trying to force feed their new suitors.  I'll stop griping now and dream about riding my bike to the grocery store.

Restaurants - No new restaurants will open in the old Pico/Relish spot, the old Red Building or in the Old NOLA building on the square side of the Historic District.  We do think there is and off chance that someone may try to open a cafe in the spot where Wedding Angels used to be.  There’s already a kids cupcake place (Gluten Free Cuties) going into one half of that space.  We think at least one restaurant on Canton Street will close but we’re not sure which.  Nine will continue to disappoint on the quality of foodTable & Main will keep moving up the list of top spots and may become another entrant to regional lists (Salt Factory #91 on Jezebel Magazine's top 100 & Greenwood's Atlanta Magazines top 50 have made some lists recently)

Locally Grown Food - A community garden will open in the Historic District... maybe at Barrington Hall?

Farmer’s Market - The saturday farmer’s market at city hall formerly known as the Riverside Farmer’s Market will stay put even though we think it would be a bigger draw if it moved to either the Canton Street Antique Market parking lot or to the square.  The city’s allowance of additional markets (i.e. Sweet Apple Village) will cannibalize business and potentially end the one at city hall.

Mobility

Historic Square Sidewalks - We will finally have completed sidewalks along the square and around Barrington Hall.  Or at least mostly completed sidewalks.  Construction is slated to start sometime this month.  Oh yeah.. we’ll get some nice new traffic light poles as well which will take some of the unsightly wires out of the air.

Historic Gateway Project - Option 3a will be approved and the people at Creekview Village condos will go berzerk because they will lose their tennis court...  The anti-roundabout camp will come out in full force and there will be a prolonged battle to get this redevelopment project going.  The truth is, this design has the potential to be truly transformational for the HD.  However, one thing that is a MUST is on street parking.  We'll probably know this year whether GDOT will allow that.  If they don't, everyone should oppose this option as it won't work.

Building a Network - Work will continue on the plans for the Oxbo Rd realignment and Elm Street Connection to Oxbo.  However, no actual work will start for another couple of years.  We are very excited about this initiative.

Planning

Historic Gateway Master Plan - DPZ, the world renowned team that designed Seaside, will completely rock the master plan for the historic district laying the groundwork for Roswell to become the best place to live in the northern burbs as well as a regional destination.  Some might say we are now but we don't have a grocery store and if we are to be a destination and at a minium we need a hotel to be a destination.  To get this all started, we just need to find the private investment.  Hmm.. Maybe the DDA can work on that.

Form-Based Code - Roswell’s first form-based code will officially be approved for the Groveway Community.  This will be another huge event in ushering in a new age for Historic Roswell and it will hopefully become a trend in the Atlanta area.

Downtown Development Authority - Our prediction is that the DDA will focus too much on large empty shopping centers along Holcomb Bridge and the HD will be a smaller part of what the initial design for the DDA was before the opportunity zone was expanded.  

Tax Increment Financing - The newly formed DDA will start to talk about implementing TIF in the revitalization area but nothing official will happen.  We need to be very careful with this tool.

Civic & Community

Alive After 5 - Our premiere event will continue to thrive and there will be a strong push to close down Canton Street during the event.  We think it should be closed from Norcross St to the Hwy 9 intersection from 5-8pm.  There has been a push for this recently after a teen was hit by a car last year.

Parks

Riverside Park Area - Plans will be finalized for two projects.. the extension of the riverside trail will be approved despite NIMBY and Environmental Concerns.  The design plans for the bike/pedestrian bridge over the Chattahoochee River will be finalized and approved.  Some think this is a waste of money and there will probably be a little bit of a fight.  We love the idea but think the bridge design will be a disappointment to some.

Retail

Same ‘ole Same ‘ole - Other than the shops along Canton St continuing to do what they do, we don’t expect to see much going on in non-food related retail this year.  We’d love to see Roswell Bikes open up shop in the Historic District (where the old soccer store(s) used to be) but that’s just wishful thinking.  We’d also love to see something other than thrift shops open up...  

Employment

Large Employer Void - We don’t expect any major announcements here but we do expect the city to court a large employer to move operations to the historic district in conjunction with the Groveway neighborhood revitalization plan.  The mayor's recent annual state of the city speech to the Roswell Kiwanis was an indicator that the city is going to push economic development in 2012.  Additionally the formation of the Roswell Business Alliance last year and DDA will help but we won't see much movement this year.

Housing

Development Revitalization - Several developments will get new life.  We are guessing that there may be some action on foreclosed Vickery Falls development just south of Chaplain's on South Atlanta Street due to the prime location and the added focus on cleaning up the area around the square.  This could push out into 2013.  

Goulding Estate for Sale - The $8.75M, 16 acre Goulding Estate will not move this year.  However, when it does in 2013, the land will be subdivided into ridiculously expensive smaller lots.  We think the the original building will remain intact and potentially become another event facility (we don't need more though).

Charlie Brown Part Deux or Trois?- Someone will make a pitch for the old Charlie Brown parcel on the southeast corner of 400 and HBR.  Citizens on the east side of town will say it will ruin their lives by increasing congestion and bringing crime to Roswell in the form of nefarious transit riders.  

Around the Metro Area

Transit Bill - TSPLOST will pass (barely) and Cobb county will still have no idea how to get its collective act together.

Ponce City Market - Work will begin on Ponce City Market late in the year.  This will be a huge step in the continued revitalization of the Old 4th Ward.

Avalon (formerly known as Prospect Park) Alpharetta - The development that I like to call The Avenue Avalon will gain approval from the Alpharetta council with two dissenting votes even though the development would further tilt Alpharetta's target ratio of apartments in the city above the 85/15 ratio that is approved in the city's comp plan.  Stay tuned for the March 26 Alpharetta City Council meeting.  North American Properties will begin work later in the year.

The Beltline - The trail portion of the Beltline that connects Piedmont Park to the New 4th Ward Park will open up and will become an instant hit amongst locals and non-locals.  We will see a more formal timeline of transit implementation after the Transit Bill is passed this summer.

The Atlanta Streetcar - Love it or Hate it, construction will start this year!

Boondoggle Field at Art Blank Stadium - This true taxpayer ‘boondoggle’ will continue to be pushed even though no NFL stadium has EVER created a net positive economic impact.  Paying half a billion for something that will be used ~10x/year just isn’t a wise decision.  

The Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal (aka The Gulch) - We will see the initial vision of this project toward the end of the year.  Long range economic impact estimates were already released and the number look very positive

 

Well, that's it!  If you made it this far, you're a true NUR fan.  Thanks and have a great (rest of) 2012!


 

Town Planner, Bulb-Outs, Rickshaws and Food Trucks

Historic Gateway Master Plan Contract

It's looking like the city may be awarding a $110k contract to a team led by planning and landscape architecture firm jB+a at Monday's council meeting.  This comes as a surprise and small disappointment to us as two of the three finalists for the contract were Tunnel-Spangler & Walsh (TSW) and Duany, Plater-Zyberk (DPZ).  These two firms are at the forefront of New Urbanist planning.  TSW master planned Glenwood Park, Woodstock Downtown and the modification of the DPZ Vickery Village town center plan.  DPZ is known most notably for their designs of the towns along the beaches of South Walton, Seaside, Rosemary Beach and Alys Beach.  

Comparing the three firms, it's quite obvious where the experience is.  DPZ has master planned over 200 villages and town centers.  TSW has master planned over 100.  jB+a has a more challenging resume to figure out in the master planning area but they did do work on the Sewanee town center and presented plans that they did for the downtowns of Mooresville, NC and Macon, GA.

When you're in the market for a heart surgeon, who do  you want performing the procedure? A Resident (JB+a), A General Surgeon (TSW) or the Best Heart Surgeon in the World (DPZ)?

I'm sure jB+a and team will do a fine job but I can't help but think we missed an opportunity to get a world class planner into our historic district.  (Click here for the memo)

Bulb Outs on Mimosa

We love this.  The city is planning on taking down a number of no parking signs along Mimosa.  You know how we love those road signs.  While they are at it, they will be installing 8 bulb outs along the street to bring curbs closer to the traffic lanes.  This will improve crossings and aesthetics and help reduce speeds on the road .  The project will also add 7 parking spots along the street bringing the total to 141.  Here's a link to the proposed map.

Rickshaws on Canton

Here's another recent item that we love.  Anything we can do to promote regular, everyday bicycling in the historic district is a good thing.  Having bicycle cabs (pedicabs) will definitely do that.  Continued visibility of bicyclists on the road is a key to improving bicycle safety.  When we see moms and kids regularly riding their bikes in the historic district, we will know that we are a truly bicycle friendly community.  But pedicabs are a great start.  I can't wait to take a ride on one.  I just hope they will come all the way down to the square. (Link to Story on the Roswell Patch)

Food Trucks

The Roswell Neighbor reported last week that the city is looking into how it can accommodate the rapidly growing supply of food trucks in our metro area.  Currently no food trucks are allowed to operate in Roswell however there have been some that have applied for permits.  However, we do have a 'food truck' inside INC which severs some sweet street food.  Personally, I haven't had the opportunity to enjoy any of the food trucks in the metro area (save the King of Pops) and it would be nice to have that opportunity here in Roswell. Check out the Atlanta Street Food Coalition's website to see what trucks could make their way out to Roswell one of these days...

Roswell Roads, Density Battle 2, Buckhead and the Beltline

Roswell News

Norcross-Grimes Roundabout Update - The roundabout is finally functional.  I’ve used it about 10 times in the past few weeks and so far I love it.  I have seen a couple of confused drivers and I’ve heard one honk at someone who wasn’t paying attention.  I’d love to see some stats on how many accidents there have been since it opened.  If there have been any, they surely can’t have been too bad as the speed within the roundabout has been low as predicted.  

Midtown Streetscape Project - The finishing touches are being put on the landscaped islands on Alpharetta Hwy.  The first one is just north of the Norcross St intersection and the last on is at the Hog Creek Bridge.  This one will be the largest.  I’m still concerned about the lighting and overhead wires.  To spend all of this money on streetscape improvements and overlook the most unsightly piece of the streetscape (aside from the crappy buildings along the corridor) is a disappointment.  

Historic Gateway Project - This project was included on the final list of projects submitted to the regional transportation roundtable.  It will be reviewed for potential inclusion in the list of projects that will be included in the regional sales tax initiative that is going to be on the ballot next year.  

Comp Plan Undergoes Changes After Residents Sound Off - Roswell Neighbor

There was a vocal contingent that voiced its concern over the types of uses the Roswell Comp Plan (Roswell 2030) was proposing for the Holcomb Bridge and GA400 interchange.  There are still thoughts of Charlie Brown in everyone’s minds.  I’m in favor of a massive revitalization of that area for many reasons, not the least of which is that it is a dysfunctional area in our city that has the potential to be a major jobs, residential and transportation center that Roswell and North Fulton can use.  Here’s a quote from the Roswell Neighbor article that outlines the types of changes that were made after the ‘sound off:’

Among the changes sought, according to Tolleson, is shifting density from the southeast quadrant of Ga. 400/Holcomb Bridge to the northwest quadrant. And instead of designating Holcomb Bridge Road as a commercial corridor, it would be the lower impact designation of neighborhood commercial, which would allow businesses “that support people who already live here, not the people passing through,” he said.

You can take that for what it’s worth but I think it’s a classic case of ‘we don’t want that type of people getting any closer to our space here in East Roswell.’  Also, what in the world is ‘lower impact’ ‘neighborhood commercial?’  If that is another way to say, ‘exactly what we already have,’ then I’m 100% against it because it’s not going to work in the years ahead.  

Regional News

Regional Light Rail All About Jobs North Fulton Chamber CEO Says - Alpharetta-Milton Patch

image: Metro Atlanta Northern Crescent Transit

Brandon Beach has been lobbying pretty actively to get transit into the northern burbs of late.  Most recently a public/private consortium of regional leaders met at the Cobb Galleria Centre to discuss the prospects of transit in the burbs.  It seems to have been an optimistic meeting with a caveat that most of the people there stand to benefit financially from transit development especially if it is primarily publicly funded.  Here’s a quote that I found interesting:

A survey conducted by McKinsey & Company in 2008 found that by investing $26 billion to $46 billion in transportation infrastructure, including light rail, Georgia could increase its gross domestic product by $114 billion and create 230,000 jobs over the next 20 years.

35% of Atlanta Homes Underwater - Atlanta Business Chronicle

YIKES!  This is well above the national average of 22.7% according to CoreLogic.

Stalled Alpharetta Project to Get New Life - AJC

Prospect Park is about to have a new owner.  North American Properties plans to purchase the land and build a more realistic and less grandiose mixed-use center on the 106 acre property.  They will begin community outreach in the coming months.  You may recognize North American Properties as the company that purchased the retail and some of the office space in Atlantic Station last year.  I believe they have done a good job engaging that community thus far to find out what they want to see at Atlantic Station.

MARTA Takes A $14M Step Toward Linking its Buckhead Station With Adjacent Developments - Saporta Report

image: Atlanta Business ChronicleBidding will open at the end of this month to improve linking the Buckhead station with developments on the north side of the station.  This is a great step to making MARTA more functional within neighborhoods (albeit wealthy a wealthy neighborhood) and job centers.

City Hall East Deal Could be Derailed by Feds - Creative Loafing

image: Creative LoafingThis is complicated and I find that generally when things get complicated, we’re doing something wrong.  My understanding is that the deal is being held up because the US Parks Department of the Dept of the Interior is not comfortable with what potential owner/devolper Jamestown Properties wants to do with the long vacant building.  Jamestown is applying for some $15M in tax credits???  Do they really need $15M in tax credits to make this thing work?  It’s a gem in an area that is revitalizing.  I think both sides need to give a little here.  I’d love to see this building get put to good use.  It’s a great pice of historic architecture in our region.

Go East, Young Beltline Fanatic - Creative Loafing

image: Historic 4th Ward Park ConservancyThe loaf has a good quick update on what is going on with the parks and trails along the Beltline.  The park in Old Fourth Ward was recently ‘officially’ opened and it has been getting rave reviews.  Just from the images I’ve seen, it looks incredible.  One of these days, I’ll make my way down to check it out.

Streets of Buckhead now Buckhead Atlanta - Atlanta Business Chronicle

image: Oliver McMillanSay what you will about the name of the project but I am certainly glad to see new ownership and the potential for progress.  The eyesore in Buckhead has been a horrible scar on our region’s most prosperous area.  You personally may never buy something from the shops that will be at ‘Buckhead Atlanta’ but the county’s tax base will reap benefits.  The new developer said this about the project:

One of the highest profile developments in the country halted by the economic downturn and financing drought. The new name signifies a departure from the concept of a single destination development and a move toward a mixed-use community that will fit seamlessly within the existing Buckhead Village

Atlanta Grants Siemens Contract for 4 Atlanta Streetcars - Green Building Chronicle

image: SiemensThis is a $17M+ contract with Siemens.  The city is expecting delivery of the first car in September 2012 with revenue service starting up in early 2013.  The Siemens facility in Alpharetta will be doing much of the work on the propulsion systems for the new cars.  

Bike Trails Proposed along GA 400 - Reporter Newspapers

image: Reporter NewspapersThis is a win in the Buckhead area.  Buckhead is great but it does have Atlanta’s lowest acreage of parks per capita.  The trail system is a partnership between several organizations including the PATH foundation, Buckhead CIT, Atlanta City Council and others.  The trail will begin at Loridans Drive just south of the toll booth and will continue 4.5 miles into Midtown also connecting with the Beltline trail system.  

GA400/I-85 Interchange Work Set to Start - Atlanta Business Chronicle

image: GDOTWill we finally be able to go northbound on I-85 from GA400 South?  Will those traveling south on I-85 be able to get on to GA400?  Looks like it’s happening.  You can thank the GA400 toll for this one.  

Plans for Upscale Apartment Tower at 12th & Midtown

image: Midtown PatchThis looks like a nice project.  It’s interesting to see another tower going up in Midtown in this environment.  The economics of apartments are definitely different than those of condos/lofts right now.  I’ll be interested to see how this one pans out.  Midtown is obviously doing well but I’m not sure it needs another tower right now.  However, it’s definitely better than a surface parking lot.  

Regulator Calls for 20-30MW Solar Projects - Atlanta Business Chronicle

The Georgia Public Service Commission would like to see plans in place to significantly increase the state’s renewable capacity given the increasing volatility in traditional energy markets.

Roundabouts, Porsche, Mixed Use and Transit

It seems like I’m only able to get around to this on a monthly basis.  Good thing this isn’t my full time job.  I wanted to be sure to get this up since there have been a ton of newsworthy events in the past several weeks that I want to comment on.

Roswell News

Norcross-Grimes Roundabout - Our Roundabout is almost complete.  I’m looking forward to testing it out one of these days.

Midtown Streetscape Project - We’re beginning to see this take shape with the sidewalks almost complete, the bridge finished and historic lighting going up.  This is very exciting.  I’m sure the street paving will be coming soon.  

Regional News

Incentives Help Win Race for Porsche - AJC

This one has been a big story this week.  Porsche will be vacating its Sandy Springs offices off Hammond Dr to move their North American HQ to the Aerotropolis development in Hapeville.  The proposed development is exciting with a Porsche Experience Center along with a test track.  Development is expected to be complete in 2013 (we’ll see about that)

Tunnell-Spangler & Walsh Master Plans Unanimously Approved Doraville & Decatur - Green Building Chronicle

These two plans have definite New Urbanist DNA with Tunnel-Spangler & Walsh being a member of the Congress for the New Urbanism.  So, Doraville has finally moved forward with a plan for the former GM plant and Decatur approved its 2010 strategic plan.  This is great news for the region and another win for the ARC’s Livable Centers Initiative.

OliverMcMillan Closes on Streets of Buckhead - Atlanta Business Chronicle

Thank goodness!  They expect construction to resume in late 2011.

Streets of Buckhead Sidewalks Restored - Atlanta Business Chronicle

Another win around the SoB.  People need to walk in that area.  

$300M Project Approved - Marietta Daily Journal

More good news for logical mixed-use development.  The vote rezoned 82 acres west of the Hooch from heavy industrial to planned village community.  The neighborhood is approved for 155 single-family homes, 332 town homes, 165 condos, 200 senior units, 850 apartment units, and potential retail, restaurant and other commercial space.  There is still some concern over the proximity to heavy industrial business and that will need to be resolved somehow.

Young Professionals Lead Surge of Intown Living - AJC

The walkable urban vibe is attracting the young professionals intown.  There are affordable places with great amenities.  Had this type of atmosphere existed in 1999, I doubt I would have ended up in Sandy Springs.

Metro Atlanta Requests a Transit Future - AJC

No surprise here.  There is a bit of everything on this list.  However the tide has really turned toward transit in the last couple of years.  Atlantans have seen what other regions such as Denver, Dallas, DC and Charlotte are doing with transit systems and they want in.  Now, how does the list get pared down?  That will determine how much support we have.

Mass Transit System Proposal On Table - WSBTV

This is a really interesting vision for the transit system in the northern burbs.  It's just a vision.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center Announces Walk Friendly Communities - WalkFriendly.org

Decatur made this list which isn’t really a surprise.  They have a number of high profile programs that encourage walkability in the heart of the city.  Also, it helps that there is a MARTA rail station right in the center of the square.

Atlanta No. 3 Gas Guzzler - Atlanta Business Chronicle

We lost out on the top spot to those pesky NC cities Raleigh and Charlotte.  The ranking was done by Forbes Magazine.  They say that the average Atlanta household drives 21,300 miles a year consuming 1,050  gallons of gas eating up about $4,200 at today’s prices.  Start factoring in car payments, insurance, maintenance and depreciation and you’re talking real money. 

Atlanta Commuters Seek Alternatives to Help Beat Gas Prices - MyFoxAtlanta

.........Newsflash.........  There aren’t many alternatives.  NIMBYs, politicians and others others are convinced that transit is a boondoggle that should never be considered when we could just build more roads.  

Johns Creek Plans Roundabout - AJC

Now that we have ours, everyone is going to jump on the roundabout bandwagon.

MARTA Starts $10.8M Solar Project - Atlanta Business Chronicle

City Hall East Transfer from City to Jamestown Delayed - Again - Green Building Chronicle

Jamestown’s City Hall East Deal Held Up Over Historic Tax Credits - Green Building Chronicle

Atlanta Could be Home to Prince of Wales Sustainability Program - Saporta Report

Beltline Officials Ink Sweet Deal for Reynoldstown, Southwest Atlanta Segments - Creative Loafing

New Atlanta Airport Terminal on Track for LEED Silver - Green Building Chronicle

Trails Proposed along GA400 - Atlanta Business Chronicle

Atlanta Home Values Drop to 1999 Level - Atlanta Business Chronicle

Parking on Canton St, Beltline Progress and Regional Transit?

I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last NUR Review.  I’ve been sidetracked with another project I’ve been working on.  We’re catching up on news since early February so some of the news might be a little dated.

Roswell

Canton Street restaurants eye parking spaces | Roswell-Neighbor

If they are going to do this, it needs to be all or none.  Also, do not cut out the automobile traffic and make it into a pedestrian mall.  There is not enough density to support a pedestrian mall in our area.

City Council Agrees on Proposed Road Projects | Roswell, GA Patch

The city voted on a list of six projects to submit to the Regional Transit Roundtable.  The six projects are the Highway 9 Historic Gateway, Big Creek River Bridge Phase 1, Big Creek to the River Multi-Use Trail Connection, North Fulton Cross County Trail Connection, Houze Road Operational Improvements and Holcomb Bridge/GA 400 Interchange Improvements.  I think that all of these are necessary and the list is appropriate for our municipality.  now, we won’t be getting all of them but I’m sure we’ll see one or two make their way into the regional list of projects.

Cruzeiro Esporte considering Atlanta? | Atlanta Business Chronicle

So, this isn’t our usual type of news review.  However, this could be very interesting for Roswell and N.Fulton.  Cruzeiro has a huge youth program and could bring major attention to N. Fulton.  The facility would need about 100 acres, could have 18 fields and investment could be $20 to $40 million.  This might be something nice to put in or around the Holcomb Bridge/400 interchange.

Alpharetta Wants to Make Plans for Vacant Auto Dealerships, Big Box Retail Stores | Alpharetta-Milton Patch

We need to seriously start looking into ideas like this here in Roswell.  The state of empty big-box retail and car dealerships in our city is dismal.  

Region

High-speed rail funding would build new $39 million Amtrak station near Atlantic Station | Creative Loafing

This could be neat.. but it’s still AMTRAK.  

Leaders Push Transit Plan That Ends MARTA | WSB Atlanta

Please... make this happen!!

ARC pushes for transit governance | NorthFulton.com

Again.. please... make this happen!!

PolitiFact Georgia | Atlanta Streetcar projected to be jobs boon

This is some very interesting info on what makes a job a job.  When you hear about how many jobs a project is expected to create, economists, politicians and developers have a pretty nifty way of making things sound better than they actually are.  

Alpharetta Council OKs Mixed-Use Rezoning on Haynes Bridge Near GA 400 - Alpharetta-Milton, GA Patch

This is old news but if you haven’t seen it, there is some interesting commentary on the Alpharetta Met life project

BeltLine Construction Could Begin in March - Virginia Highland-Druid Hills, GA Patch

It's becoming an reality.  I can't wait to go for a walk on the trail.

Historic Fourth Ward Park, the newest Beltline greenspace, opens | Creative Loafing Atlanta

If you haven’t seen this park, it’s a true gem thus far.  Great addition to Atlanta’s park system and it’s also another piece of the BeltLine that’s starting to take shape.

City wants downtown streetcar to use new Beltline friendly vehicles — for an additional $9 million | Creative Loafing Atlanta

This makes total sense and the city should work to make this happen for the long term success of both projects.

City Hall East details trickle out: Adios parking deck, hello 'food hall?' | Creative Loafing Atlanta

Another neat project that’s near the BeltLine.

Atlanta Wins Two ‘Opportunity’ Zones | Atlanta Business Chronicle

More good news for City Hall East.

Doraville presents final plan for GM plant, town center  | ajc.com

Please just do something here.  

Alpharetta Buying Downtown Property for City Center | Alpharetta-Milton, GA Patch

Alpharetta may be looking to revive its City Center project sometime soon.  I'm looking forward to seeing their idea.

Atlantic Station, prepare for your spellbinding transformation into the 'anti-mall!' | Creative Loafing Atlanta

Thankfully, the new owners are planning to do something with the retail in Atlantic Station. I’d love to see a more local and regional focus.

Streets of Buckhead may come to life | Atlanta Business Chronicle

New ownership and new life have people much more optimistic about the SoB these days.  Let’s hope they get the cranes moving again.  

Development, in high times or low, can’t crush Smyrna’s blooms  | ajc.com

Smyrna is starting to feel a little optimism about development.