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Downtown Alpharetta Business Group Charts Its Future

Farmers Market will get entrance as DATA works to draw customers downtown.

The Downtown Alpharetta Trade Association isn't waiting for the city to bring customers into the neighborhood. While they are hoping for a city center and even the chance of Gwinnett Tech locating its campus at the old Milton High site, the group has its own plans.

"If you just imagine if those two things could happen, what it could be in downtown," said Dick Debban, acting president of DATA and head of RJD Architect.

DATA board member Larry Attiq of Nature's Veranda said downtown used to be the place to go.

"Thirty-three years ago, we had all that it. It was a thriving downtown," he said.

At that time, Alpharetta had one stoplight. There was no mall, no shopping centers and nowhere else to be.

"What we are going to create is a new small town feel," Attiq said.

Twenty five years ago, the urban sprawl began.

"Today, we have a challenge in bringing back that community feel," he said.

On Saturday mornings, he said a lot of people come downtown to the Alpharetta Farmers Market DATA sponsors to find that community feeling once again.

The group has found success in drawing people downtown with the Alpharetta Farmers Market it sponsors weekly starting in April. They've found it's not just about buying produce for local residents.

"Lots of people just want to come downtown on a Saturday," Debban said.

Carol Anderson-Wood of , who coordinates the Farmers Market, said this year 40 vendors are signed up, an increase from the 30 of last year.

DATA has made do with temporary signage each week, but now has designs on a permanent "entrance" to the Farmers Market that's now held in the parking lot just south of City Hall on South Main Street (GA 9). The small structure will include a sign, and be surrounded by a small garden with "crops" like what might be sold at the Farmers Market. Materials will cost approximately $3,800.

Attiq, one of the DATA members working on this project, said Alpharetta City Councilmen Chris Owens and Mike Kennedy took their idea to Mayor Arthur Letchas and City Administrator Bob Regus, which was received favorably.

The city created its Historic Downtown Plan, but "unfortunately, that is as far as it went," Attiq said. The city looked to other projects and areas and only now is looking back at downtown, getting ready to release its own revised city center plans.

"But the good part of this is they saved the last dance for downtown," Attiq said.

DATA also released its Alpharetta First program, which seeks to get local residents to shop in Alpharetta and downtown Alpharetta before heading out of town.

Richard Debban March 16, 2011 at 11:29 AM
Bob I like your paper, its about the local everyday up to the minute news. I am telling everybody I know about it. Thanks a lot for your commitment to the news.

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