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.

Sidewalk Cafe vs Street Tree

I'm not sure which way to go on this.  As a dyed in the wool new urbanist, I love sidewalk cafes and street trees.  The both add signifcantly to the public realm when done right.  Which is why I'm torn on the proposal by the owners of Salt Factory to expand their sidewalk cafe.  We will get an upgraded sidewalk in that spot, albeit narrower.  But, the cost will be the nice little tree that lives next to the road.  I'm never the one crying to save a tree when a worthy development comes along but this one gets me.  Trees define space and frame a street.  I think we will miss the little tree when it is gone and we will have four more tables at Salt Factory.  I think they should keep it as it is and add seating on their roof.  

2013 Outlook - What Will the New Year Bring for Roswell?

Here's a look into our crystal ball at what will happen in Roswell and around the metro area in 2013.  Up front, is a recap some of the bigger changes we've seen in and around the Historic District in 2012.  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:

2012 Recap - Keep up the Good Work Roswell!

Last year was another great year in and around Roswell.  Here are some of the more notable stories.

  • Groveway Hybrid Form-Based Code - The city passed the hybrid form-based code which was a huge move in the right direction for human-scaled development.
  • DPZ Master Plan - A MP for Historic Roswell was completed by the innovative and influential firm DPZ.  This MP wasn’t adopted officially by the city.  However, the ideas generated from the plan, in classic Andres Duany form, have generated momentum to change where there was none before.
  • TSPLOST Fails - The hopes for easy money and quick upgrades to infrastructure faded as the TSPLOST referendum went down in flames in July. Roswell lost out on a complete renovation of Holcomb Bridge/400 ($46M) and full funding of the Historic Gateway Project ($21M).
  • GM Jobs - General Motors is opening a software development campus in the old UPS Innoplex building off Mansell and will bring about 1,000 jobs. (not real 2012 news but it’s already announced)
  • Roswell NEXT - A new organization aimed at energizing young professionals, entrepreneurs and visionaries in Roswell was founded.  (Shameless Plug, I am a on the board of Roswell NEXT)
  • Historic Square Upgrades - Some nice additions were made this year by completing the sidewalk network in and around the square and also putting up traffic light masts that match others around HR at 120/9 intersection.
  • Code Studio Selected for UDC - This was a fantastic selection for our Unified Development Code.  New Urbanist firm, all about walkability and contextual development.  (translation.. they care about how things look and function)
  • Info Kiosks - We finally got some content added to them and they look great.
  • Little Alley Steak - The guys behind Salt Factory and INC opened their third concept and it’s fantastic. One request though guys, dress up the bathrooms.
  • Pure Taqueria - The Alpharetta based chain has opened a spectacular new location just north of the Historic District.  
  • Alive After 5 Canton St Closure - The world did not end! This was a needed change for the popular event.
  • Food Trucks - We approved a food truck ordinance and now they are regulars at Alive After 5.  Awesome addition.
  • Alive at the Square - The Alive After 5 party migrated south this year and was very successful at the Historic Square.  This spot allows for a little more space and is really good for families.
  • Pedicabs Approved - In a move that I’m not sure was necessary, a hypothetical business would be able to run pedicabs in the Historic District.  Eventually, this will be cool.
  • Bond Referendum Passed - This was a mixed bag but overall was good for walkability.
  • Fire Engine Red on Canton Street - In a controversial move, the new tenant of the former Pastis location, Mac McGee, painted the entire facade fire engine red.  I love it. Now can we get rid of those ugly black awnings with the block lettering?  Just a horrible look for Canton St.

A couple items from around the region:

  • Beltline Eastside Trail - Opened in Oct and is AMAZING! We need to model the Roswell Loop after it.
  • New Falcons Stadium - Completely unnecessary.  Go Falcons though!
  • Ponce City Market - Going to revolutionize in-town living.
  • Avalon Site Plan Approved - Alpharetta eating our Lunch.
  • Alpharetta City Center Plan Approved and Funded- Alpharetta eating our Lunch part 2.
  • Sandy Springs City Center Plan Approved - This is a very nice master plan done by new urbanist firm Goody-Clancy.

Roswell 2013 

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.  Last year, we thought there might be an announcement sometime in 2012 about a small(er) grocery store going in somewhere near the HD.  We did get something but it wasn’t exactly what we were expecting.  It came in the form of a request to demolish the property at 1056 Alpharetta Street.  The owners are looking to build a small gourmet grocery store called Baba’s Gourmet.  We don’t have any additional info aside from what is in the notes from the HPC request.  The new building will be a welcome addition and will improve the streetscape along that stretch.

insert photo Babas Gourmet Roswell Rendering

Restaurants - We have several exciting restaurants opening up around HR in the near future.  MacMcgee Irish Pub will be opening in the freshly painted former Pasti’s location on Canton St.  Soccer fans rejoice!  Borocco is building out space in the Chaplin’s shopping center.  I’m hoping this one is successful to add a little life to my immediate neighborhood.  On the other side of the square, the owners of McCray’s Tavern (Smyrna & Lawrenceville) are opening a restaurant in the old Relish/Pico spot.  I’m a little unsure of the name since the HPC modifications request is under McCray’s Tavern but the liquor license was applied for as The Mill.  Either way, that spot will be solid with the right concept.  Osteria Mattone is the new venture on Canton Street from the guys behind Table & Main which in my opinion is the best restaurant north of Buckhead.  I have a bold prediction that Oteria Mattone will jump into at least one of the top of Atlanta lists in 2013.  Just seeing the pics on twitter (@oteriamattone) from their food scouting trip in Italy is making me hungry.  

We reportedly have two of our home grown restaurants, Salt and Nine, making the jump up to Alpharetta with second locations.  Salt will be in the old KFC location on Main St and Nine will be in the former Bistro 52 location behind Mitties Cafe on 9.  Honestly, I don’t like either of the locations.  I think Salt will be successful due to the name recognition and the food quality.  The success in Roswell has partly been due to fact that they have an Incredible location in the most walkable part of our city.  We believe, Nine will miss the mark.  The food quality is suspect and that location doesn’t have the foot traffic that is required to sustain a restaurant serving marginal food.  

Locally Grown Food - Will 2013 be the year that we get a real community garden 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 did well in 2012 and we think the same will hold true in 2013.  Although, the fact that it is in a parking lot is a huge turnoff.  If they could somehow find a way to move it to one of the parking lots right along Canton Street, the visibility would be huge and potentially bring even more vendors.  The only other suggestion I have would be to move it to the circle in front of the steps at city hall.  Most people who shop at farmers markets are inherently interested in sustainability and it is counter-intuitive for those people to feel great about shopping in a parking lot.  Just saying..

Mobility

Sidewalks - We are slowly but surely connecting missing teeth in our sidewalk network.  We will connect Diesel to Canton St with a sidewalk along the north side of Norcross Street early this year.  Not that anyone really walks there but the gap in front of the self serve car wash on the west side of Hwy 9 just south of Holcomb Bridge will get a sidewalk either this year or next.

Historic Gateway ProjectOption 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.  Additional talk will occur about the Oak St extension through Waller Park to connect with Grimes Bridge.

Bridge over 400 - We will see some designs at some point in 2013.

Planning & Development

Historic Gateway Master Plan - The DPZ plan that was completed in 2012 will serve as a guide for other projects, see below, that will come out in 2013.  The DPZ plan will not be followed completely rather, it is serving as inspiration that was not there before.  

Unified Development Code - We have a top notch firm in Code Studio helping us put together our new UDC.  We think the public will get its first glimpse of a ‘finished’ product toward the end of the year.  This will revolutionize development in Roswell.  There will be several meetings that the public can attend throughout the year.

Downtown Development Authority - The DDA will finally bring a big project to the table.  Maybe something around Canton Street and Highway 9.  

Boutique Hotel - It is becoming more and more obvious as Historic Roswell becomes a more popular destination that we are severely lacking in quality lodging options.  Is 2013 finally the year that a big hotel group takes note and steps in to build the boutique hotel concept?  We think that’s still a few years off.  However, a more likely scenario is a B&B opening in the Canton St area.  

Civic & Community

Alive After 5 - The expansion to the Square was a big hit in 2012.  Especially for those with smaller children.  This year, the proximity to McCray’s tavern will make the Alive at the Square piece even more fun.  The Food Truck addition made a big deal and enabled people to go to the event and eat there rather than having to leave early due to restaurant overcrowding.  This event is a cornerstone for years to come. 

RoswellNEXT - This newly formed civic group will host 12 events for members and the public in 2013.  We think it will be a huge success and the Town Hall | Roswell events will prove to be innovative and informative.  By the way, they are having a fundraiser on Jan 31st.  For more information go to their website (www.roswellnext.org) or their Facebook page.

Charlie Brown Part Deux or Trois?- Nothing will happen that is large scale on the old Charlie Brown parcel on the southeast corner of 400 and HBR.  We will continue to hear of plans to bring MARTA to exit 7 and beyond but nothing beyond dreams will materialize.

Parks

Riverside Park Area - We thought this would move faster but we believe in 2013, plans will be finalized for two projects.. the extension of the riverside trail will be approved despite NIMBY andEnvironmental Concerns.  The design plans for the bike/pedestrian bridge over the Chattahoochee River will be finalized and approved. 

Roswell Area Park Rebranding - An effort will be initiated to rename Roswell Area Park.  What in the world is an “Area” park anyway?  

Ace Sand Company - Something will happen with the property currently occupied by Ace Sand Company.  This has huge development potential and could be a great addition to our park system.

Retail

A Little Movement - We don’t need ANY more thrift shops.  I think we’ve reached saturation in that market.  There will be some strip center renovations finishing up in 2013 and we might see some announcements for more in the midtown area.  I’m thinking we will hear something about the Southern Skillet shopping center.  That’s purely a hunch but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.     

Employment

Large Employer Void - We didn’t expect any major announcements in 2012 but we got a huge one to begin 2013 with the news that GM was opening an IT center and hiring 1000+ high paying jobs at the former UPS Innoplex building off Mansell.  This isn’t the most New Urban location.  We would love to see an employer come into the Groveway area and infuse some jobs into the Historic District.  However, I think we are 18-24 months out from anything of that nature.  The RBA will continue to do great things

Small Business Incubator - We feel that the best opportunity for Roswell exists in cultivating smaller startups.  Alpharetta a lock on large corporate IT.  Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and Buckhead have a stranglehold on large and mid-size companies.  The opportunity here in Roswell is to leverage the strengths of our neighbors and work to create smaller businesses that are not as prevalent in the neighboring areas.  We have an atmosphere that is much more desirable to that demographic.  But, we need to nurture it.  A full fledged startup incubator in Roswell would work but it would need the support of the city and partner organizations.  I don’t see it happening in 2013 but it could.

Housing

Housing in the Historic District - There will be at least three projects announced in 2013 that will bring new housing stock to the historic district.  These will be in the form of single family homes, townhouse and even apartments.  

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 2014.  

Goulding Estate for Sale - The $8.75M, 16 acre Goulding Estate didn’t move last year as expected.   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 or potentially a B&B.  The bigger question is whether they will figure out a way to connect the road to the road to the west and build out our network, more.    

Around the Metro Area

The Beltline - We predicted correctly that the eastside trail would be a huge hit and when it opened in Oct of last year, it was an instant success.  News about additional funding for the Beltline transit component will come out toward the end of the year with a public-private partnership being the finance tool of choice.

The Stadium - The stadium will be approved and ground breaking will occur in early 2014.

Ponce City Market - Additional shops will open up in Ponce City Market.  The unfortunate decision not to offer for sale units will not hurt the overall speed of the development and may actually increase it.  However, this will prove to be the ultimate saturation of the apartment boom in that area.

Avalon Alpharetta - Ground breaking will occur in January.  The parking deck will come down quickly and we will see actual structural development in 2013.  It won’t be ready for showtime until late 2014 though.

Alpharetta City Center - The new configuration of Haynes Bridge Rd from Old Milton to Academy St opened recently making way for the new library.  We will see work start on the Library and City Hall in 2013 and the new road grid and parking deck will begin to take shape.  We love this project.

Sandy Springs City Center - The plans have been approved and we will see a small bit of development start in 2013 but the bigger changes will start to become evident in the next 2-3 years.  

The Atlanta Streetcar - Love it or Hate it, construction will be almost complete by the end of the year and we will see streetcars rolling through downtown again in early 2014.  

The Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal (aka The Gulch) - We will see the final renderings will be approved this year and work will start in late 2014.

Old Malls Will Close - We think at least two malls in the metro area will close completely this year.  Crazy we know but retail is getting crushed by Amazon and aside from the half-dozen high quality malls around the region, the mall is dying. 

Well, that's it!  If you made it this far, you're a true NUR fan.  Thanks and have a great (rest of) 2013!

Strip Malls.. Does Roswell Need More of the Same?

 

It's not easy to do right.  Anyone can put lipstick on a pig but it doesn't change the fact that it's still a pig.  One of my all time favorites and it might be apt in this case is that 'you can't polish a turd.'  That being said, I recently heard that the Holcomb Woods Village shopping center was sold and the new owner is looking to do a little remodeling.  I was able to find the plans on the city's website and am slightly disappointed.  The first thing I'm going to take up is the name.. please change it.  A village is a small community or group of houses in a rural area.. it is not a strip mall with no residents along a major collector highway.

Now that I've covered that, let's get back to the plans.  The new owner, Hawthorne Retail Partners, has put together a plan that essentially dresses this little piggy up.  Here's the pic... nothing changes in the curent layout of the site.

image: City of Roswell

For those readers unfamiliar with the property, it is the strip mall behind Aqua Blue and Wendy's along Holcomb Bridge Rd about a mile east of 400.  The shopping center itself is probably about 40% leased (guessing) and isn't in very good condidtion.  The premiere tennant currently is Twisted Taco.  Most of the property, as with every strip center is dedicated to parking.  The outparcels where Aqua Blue, Wendy's and Goodyear sit are not part of the center and they cause a problem because they sit uphill from the shopping center.  Thus, drivers along Holcomb Bridge cannot easily see the shopping center.  When car traffic is your only source of business, this poses a problem.

the owner has three options ranging from cheap to cost prohibitive.  Here's a look at each of them. 

Three Options

Dress it up...  This is the default plan and it looks to be the intent of the company.  It is fairly consistent with the Roswell 2030 Master Plan given that this site calls for mixed-use no rise (1-2 stories). Our issue with the plan is that it is essentially adding no value to the city.  It may increase the tax rolls near term but in the long run, it is the same retail model that is failing nationwide.  In 15-20 years, we'll be in the same spot once again.  Looking at an aging strip mall that is half empty.  Here's a sample of some remodels Hawthorne has done in other places.

image: City of Roswell

Change it up...  This will require a little investment and innovation.  Create some additional buildings and potentially a gathering space where families will want to come and spend some time.  Reaching back into the Roswell 2030 plan, one of the stated objectives for this area is to "seek to create a village environment."  A shopping center with the word village in its name does not make this a village.  The first thing we would do is shop out the parking lots to an apartment developer and look to bring some full time residents to the area.  Think 2-3 stories along the east side of the parcel all the way up to HBR.  Internally, consider the Avenue Concept where there is a building in the middle of the horseshoe.  Or, maybe a water feature/sprayground where people could sit and hang out.  You sacrifice some parking but it could be made up along the periphery with parallel parking.  That spot is fairly well shielded from the noise on HBR so it could be a pretty cool spot.  The other thing to consider is to look into using the water retention area as a water feature.. it's downhill from the main building where the "wedge" is and could actually look nice.

Start from Scratch..  This is a longer term idea.  We should be taking the first steps to revitalize the area.  It's going to happen incrementally anyway.  So, why not start here.  Not every city is Alpharetta with a $200M benefactor just popping up to save the day.  The first thing that would be needed is to work out deal with current owners of the outparcels.  There are too many ideas to list here but someone with some imagination could do something nice.

What does the market want?

Honestly, it's hard to tell.  The one thing we can be sure of is that the market isn't screaming for a new, renovated or dressed up strip center.  Sure, Hawthorne will gain some tenants and this will probably encourage the developments surrounding it to redevop to ensure they don't lose their tenants.

As far as mixed-use with shopping and residential is concerned, we think there is a market there.  There have been proposals made and projects approved on that side of town but nothing has gotten off the ground.  That's more of an issue with the types of proposals made (i.e. Charlie Brown) and the timing of the approvals (Centenniel Walk) than an overall aversion.  The lot is close to 400.  It is near the Big Creek Park.  There is a private school within walking distance.  A grocery store and a gym within a reasonable walk or short drive.  It's walking distance to the largest employer in Roswell (Kimberly Clark).  Plus, the redevelopment potential in the area would likely encourage an apartment developer to get into the mix.  The parcel sits pretty close to what is the biggest redevelopment opportunity in Roswell...  just sayin.

So, in our minds, this project could be a catalyst that would jump start the redevelopment of that area but in it's current form, it doesn't encourage much beyond the same 'ol same 'ol strip mall development that we already have for miles and miles along Holcomb Bridge Road.

 

Food Trucks in Roswell... Soon (hopefully)

You may know that the city recently approved a food truck ordinance.  We decided to take a look at the ordinance to see where we might see some food trucks. 

At first glance, it seems pretty restrictive.  It's fine to protect existing businesses and I don't want any of our eating establishments to go out of business but I think that the new ordinance may put too much power in the hands of the restaurant owners without taking into account consumer demand.  Here are some of the requrements from the ordinance (link to full ordinance): 

  • The mobile food vendor shall not conduct business or operate under this article on the public right-of-way.
  • The mobile food vendor shall not operate on any private property without the prior consent of the owners.
  • Mobile food vendors shall be located a minimum of 200 feet from the main entrance to any eating establishment or similar food service business unless just eating establishment grants written permission for the mobile food vender to be located closer than 200 feet.
  • Mobile food vendors shall not be located within 15 feet of any street intersection or pedestrian crosswalk or 10 feet of any driveway.

Now...Our thoughts on Food Trucks...  For the most part, they are a fad.  But, when done properly, they can be excellent incubators of successful food concepts.  I think there will be some in the Atlanta area that stick around for years to come.  Check out the Atlanta Street Food Coalition's list of area vendors here.  Most of them will probably die out.  That being said, There are some killer concepts out there and it would be nice to see some in the historic district especially when we have festivals going on.  Taking into account the 200 foot barrier, here's where we think you may see some set up shop in the coming months (we didn't factor in the 15 foot radius from intersections/crosswalks).  The red spots are the most prime areas where trucks might be able to set up shop.

 

Alpharetta's Big Project Part Deux

image: North American Properties
So, the big news out of Alpharetta lately has been the release of the site plan for the new Avalon development.  You may want to check out their promotional video as well.  Very well put together with the always catchy Temper Trap song Sweet Temptation as background.  You can comment on the plan here on the Alpharetta City website and Mark Toro will be presenting the project to the public at 7pm on Monday 2/13 at Alpharetta City Hall.  Mark seems like a good guy and his presentation will probably be top notch.  Unfortunately, I can't make it.
This project is better than what is there now.  It's not better than the original Prospect Park plan in my opinion.  All in all, it has a long way to go to earn my full approval (but what the hell does that matter).  For what it's worth, here's My feedback...
Pro
  • Thus far, a well executed marketing and promotional plan.  NAP knows what they are doing on the retail side and will no doubt put together a product that will work in Alpharetta.
  • Nice use of terminated vistas on the central avenue.  Retail has figured it out, now we just need our transportation engineers and subdivision developers to figure it out.
  • Bold move with the apartments given the current mood in Alpharetta toward anything non-single family.  These apartments will be leased with a quickness.  
Con
  • Far too much land area dedicated to parking.  I hope they are planning on using the space as a land bank for future mixed use buildings.
  • A 14 story building is a show stopper in Alpharetta.  Nothing on this property should be go over 6-7 stories.  NAP will get some serious backlash if they want to push the height.
  • Does Alpharetta really need another movie theater?  Good grief!  Also, what will the back end of the movie theater look like from Westside Parkway?
  • Poor use of the detention ponds.  Take the Historic Old 4th Ward Park pond as an example of great use of a detention pond.  I know.. the site is topographically challenged and the detention ponds can only go in so many places but where's the creativity?
  • Townhomes should surround the park instead of the single family homes.  The little park does nothing to increase the value of the single family homes that have their own little yards already.  However, the townhomes would see an increase in value.  
  • Townhomes should face out along Westside Parkway.  This entire project seems to look in on itself.  That could be a byproduct of the fact that it is surrounded by multi-lane arterials that not even the most ardent traffic engineer would want to stare at all day, but that's no excuse.  They should be designed more like the Lake Deerfield townhomes along Deerfield Pkwy where the buildings on the outside address the street.  There is nothing that can help the situation along Old Milton.. you're stuck with a 6 laner + turn lanes.  However, Westside can be done well and the right addressing of the street could really change the feel through that stretch of road.
  • The outparcels are very concerning and leave uncertainty.  What will be there? They are too close to the residential.. the residential should interact with the main project and not be plagued with uncertainty of what will be developed right next door.  

Maybe some of these concerns will be addressed and questions answered at Monday's meeting.  Either way, thanks to Mark Toro and NAP for bringing life to this project and working to engage the public.

 

#14... The Art Galleries

Why We Love Them...

What's not to love about good art in your neighborhood?  Strolling down Canton Street and dropping into the galleries is a great experience even if you're not planning on buying anything.  It's just nice to see great art and talk to people about it.  They recently brought back the Art Walk this past October and it seemed to be a big hit.  It was successful because Roswell has one of the highest concentrations of quality galleries outside the perimeter.  There is a great range good quality art ranging from affordable to very expensive.  

What We Would Change...

Honestly, I probably haven't looked hard enough but I'd really like to see one of the galleries feature Roswell themed art.  I'm not talking about local Roswell artists.  There are a number of those.  I'm talking about art that depicts Roswell and our beautiful city. You can find something related to Roswell every once in a while but it can be challenging.  We have a lot of picturesque places here in Roswell that are waiting for an artist to memorialize.  One last thing.. there are a couple of galleries that have just horrendous awnings along Canton Street.  I'm sure there's some crappy code that has to be adhered to as far as awnings and signage are concerned but they just look tacky and hastily done when you look at the rest of the historic district.

Here's a list of some of our galleries:

Ann Jackson Gallery

Taylor Kinzel Gallery

Raiford Gallery

Timothy Michael Gallery

Ford Smith Fine Art

Koko Gallery

Peter Brandi Gallery

The Painted Monkey

Lola Art Gallery

image: JWHomes.com

#16... Go With The Flow

Why We Love It...

It symbolizes what Roswell's all about... successful small town retail in the heart of our historic district focused on an outdoorsy lifestyle. They've been around since 1983 which shows that the business is an anchor in the community.  It's much more than just paddling with lifestyle gear and actually they probably have some of the best Roswell themed t-shirts around.  

What We Would Change..

As we're getting higher and higher on our list, there are fewer and fewer things that we'd change.  I'd really like to see them start offering lessons though.  You can find people who give lessons in and around Roswell but I'd guess a partnership with GWTF would be a boon to anyone giving lessons.  I know that might not be in their business model but novice kayakers need a place to start and why not say you started at Go With the Flow?  Oh yeah, I'm not running the business and I'm sure they have their reasons but I'd suggest that they keep the shop open during Alive After Five events.  I'm sure the crowds would be a pain in the neck though.

#18... Roswell Provisions

Why We Love It..

The Canton Street section of Historic Roswell has needed a non-restaurant congregation spot for a while and Roswell Provisions has filled the void.  The store itself is charming and well thought out.  You can get a number of different items for your daily needs.  They have a small selection of locally grown organic veggies and fruits.  Their dairy selection is all local (albeit expensive) and they have a fantastic selection of sausage, cheese and wine.  They have cupcakes from Kelly Cakes and fresh artisan breads.  You can sit inside or outside and enjoy the ambiance of the heart of historic Canton Street.  

The owners took an old underused space in the historic district and turned it into one of the most trafficked shops.  It's obviously hit an underserved segment in our neighborhood.

What We Would Change..

Price..  The store is obviously catering to the upscale buyer but man, it's pricey.  You get what you pay for though.  Everything that I've seen there is high quality and tasteful.

#24... Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Shop

Why We Love It...

Well, it's not Starbucks.  What it is, is a fantastic use of a historic building along South Atlanta Street that helps make the neighborhood a little cooler.  The Coffee Shop oozes charm and personality.  The staff is always great and there is atmosphere with live music on the weekends.  

Up until the opening of Roswell Provisions, there wasn't really a good, local option for Coffee in the historic district aside from LOATH.  

They also buy their coffee exclusively from growers in Rwanda and pay higher than fair trade prices for it.  You can learn more about those efforts at their website, www.drinkcoffeedogood.com

What We Would Change...

There's not much we would change about the coffee house itself or the business.  However, it is a little difficult to get to on foot and it's at the southern end of the historic district.  If I could do anything, I'd move the entire house to somewhere on the square.  But, since that's not possible, we'll keep it just the way it is.

image: DrinkCoffeeDoGoodRoswell.com