Alpharetta asked for input on its downtown development plan, but some business and property owners wanted to know what will be done in their part of downtown.
On Monday, City Council will approve putting a $29 million bond referendum on the November ballot to fund its downtown project on 22 acres of city land. Plans include a new city hall and a parking deck, a five-acre park plus the infrastructure to support the 22-acre project. The Atlanta-Fulton County Library system will build a new, 25,000-square-foot branch on the site also.
Jim Parsons, who owns several buildings across from the City Hall parking lot, complained that the plan ignores the rest of downtown and he'll lose parking in front of his buildings.
Engineering and Public Works Director Pete Sewcwicz said the city has negotiated with GA Department of Transportation to add parallel spaces on the other side of the street, which is a state highway. And the city is adding 18 spaces on Old Roswell Street between Roswell Street and Milton Avenue, behind those businesses.
Donald Mitchell of Donald Mitchell Designs asked the city to add projects in the rest of downtown to get more support for the bond referendum.
Assistant City Administrator James Drinkard can't do much more on that side because much of the land is privately owned.
But he said some of the money gained by the city as it flips property on the 22-acre site over to private owners will be spent on the other side of the street.
"But there reaches a point where the city has to say, 'For now, we've done what we can over there,'" Drinkard said.
He said the city has added the Ray parking lot, is painting lampposts to improve the appearance of downtown and plans to spruce up the mini-part at Main and Milton.
"We are not walking away from the other side of downtown. We don't think of it as this side and that side. We think of it as downtown," he said. "Downtown is our heart. We want our heart to be healthy."
Residents' comments made them cut one story from the parking deck that also will serve businesses across the street, said Eric Bosman of Urban Collage. The front of the property is on a hill, so only the top of the deck is visible from Main Street, and once a commercial building is built in front of it even that won't be seen. On the back side, only two or three levels would be visible. Plans to shift the library branch back a bit would even hide those from view. The parking deck is intended to serve the library as well.
Consultants listened to what residents had to say about the existing city hall, which was initially planned for demolition.
"We think there is a lot of merit to keeping this building," Bosman said. "It's keeping some of our history on the site."
The building might be the location for the Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau or serve another public function.
The new city hall would have a smaller footprint to connect the green spaces on either side of the building.
The commercial buildings planned for future development were broken up into smaller buildings that will be constructed as needed.
A large part of the meeting was spent with residents viewing 60 photos of park space, library, city hall and commercial buildings of different styles. Based on how residents judge each photo, the consultants can create an idea of the character of downtown that they want. The survey is online at the city's Web site so that any resident can offer input.