UPDATED 7:45 A.M.: Fulton County has accepted Alpharetta's offer of land in the city's downtown as the site for a new library branch.
Commission Chairman John Eaves signed the option on the land June 1, and the county's attorney forwarded the agreement to Alpharetta City Attorney Sam Thomas on June 7. The site is within the 22-acre City Center downtown redevelopment City Council proposed on May 23. While the proposal puts the building on Haynes Bridge Road, the city and county will pick the exact site as the overall downtown plan is designed.
"It's a great achievement for the city and a partnership with Fulton County. It's tremendous for the city of Alpharetta," said City Councilman Doug DeRito on Wednesday night.
"It begins our movement toward seeing our realization of our revitalization of downtown areas of Alpharetta and I couldn't be happier," said DeRito, who was attending a reception for , Shannon Kersey.
Donald Mitchell, a board member of the Downtown Alpharetta Trade Association (DATA) and owner of Donald Mitchell Design, was happy to hear the library branch would be coming to downtown, but had a definite opinion on where the best spot within the City Center project would be.
"My initial thoughts are that I would rather see it on Main Street where it has the potential to create more pedestrian traffic into the downtown area," Mitchell said via email Wednesday night. "I do understand that the library board wants a highly visible site on a main throughfare. I am pretty certain that Main Street would also accomplish this and actually work to create positive pedestrian traffic in the downtown historic district."
Alpharetta had offered up to three acres of downtown land along Haynes Bridge Road for the Atlanta-Fulton County Library System to build a new 25,000-square-foot branch. That's 15,000 square feet more space than the has.
Some space would be available on that library site for surface parking. But additional parking would be available in a parking deck planned next to the library. But if the city doesn't build that parking deck, the county would be given up to two more acres for enough surface parking to serve the larger library branch. The existing branch has 38 parking spaces, which most people consider inadequate.
The county would expect to make its building design compatible with the city's design standards that would be developed for the downtown project. And if the city hadn't adopted standards by the time the new library design was being created, the city and county would cooperate to make the design work.
Alpharetta plans to relocate the last several hundred feet of Haynes Bridge Parkway to the east to provide more usable land for the downtown project, including the library. The city purchased additional property on both sides of Haynes Bridge Road and on side streets to put together the 22-acre downtown project.
Next up for the city is a series of public meetings beginning June 16 to get residents' comments about the downtown plan. Putting the library branch down as "planned" instead of "proposed" may help convince city voters to pass a referendum on the downtown project in November.
"I think it will be a very positive reaction because it will a state-of-the-art library in our downtown district," DeRito said. "It will only complement the downtown plan that we just unveiled a couple of weeks ago. And it's part of our plan and the county has worked very closely to make it happen. So this is great news."