Massive project to give Sandy Springs its core, identity


Sandy Springs incorporated 12 years ago to wrest control from Fulton County and establish its own identity.

And like many of Atlanta’s growing suburban communities, this city of 100,000 people located just north of Buckhead, is spending millions to build its core and to create a central destination for its residents.

Rising from the center of the city on Roswell Road, a massive mixed-use development called City Springs will include a gleaming city hall, along with a performing arts center, amphitheater, parks, 275 flats and 19 townhome apartments, and more than 20,000 square feet of retail space.

The 15-acre site located between Johnson Ferry Road and Mt. Vernon Highway is a public-private partnership effort that will cost about $222 million.

“I think calling it significant is a gross understatement. It’s going to be a catalyst for a lot of community development and civic pride,” said Fulton County Commissioner Lee Morris. “I think it is going to continue pushing Sandy Springs on its upward trajectory as a significant city in the state of Georgia.”

And this upward trajectory is something city officials and residents embrace.

“We’re not just creating a sense of place,” Mayor Rusty Paul said. “We’re creating a place for people. A connective tissue for the community - that’s what we need more than anything else.”

The city is already home to several Fortune 500 company headquarters, and City Springs is a development officials say allows those employees to live close to work and mass transit.

“Companies are trying to address the needs of their workers,” said Andrea Worthy, the city’s director of economic development. “They’re going to go where their employees want to move, which is close to home, with lots of ways to get work, and lots of options for restaurants and retail.”

Creating a city center has been long overdue, the mayor said.

“There are [residents] inside the perimeter who feel like they are part of Buckhead, there are people living closer to Dunwoody who identify more there, and then there are the people from the historic core of Sandy Springs who were the leaders in the effort to incorporate,” he said. “So we have a lot of smaller communities with different identities. Even today, you’ll find businesses and churches listing their addresses as Atlanta - not Sandy Springs.”

City Springs will provide visitors a centrally located place for entertainment, dining and outdoor space, all on foot, said Jennifer Cruce, executive director of Sandy Springs Hospitality and Tourism.

They city’s effort is following the national trend of municipalities’ desire for “walkability.” According to Sarah Kirsch, executive director for the Urban Land Institute Atlanta, “suburbs are changing and land use has to change in order for suburbs to remain competitive and sustainable.”

One of the city’s founders, Oliver Porter, says that the “total package” design was inevitable.

“I think Sandy Springs was like a 1940s, 1950s downtown with its buildings and strip malls, so this will provide a focus and core for the city,” he said. “But the city will continue to grow whether [City Springs] was there or not.”

Getting to the other side

Shopping centers line three of the development’s four sides, and those businesses have struggled with the recent increased traffic woes caused by construction crews, said Terri Moore, a Sandy Springs native and owner of Naomi’s Paperie on Johnson Ferry Road.

Despite the traffic hassles, she said she’s excited about the project, especially the prospect of more chef-based restaurants, something that would have previously required residents to drive to Atlanta.

“I think it’s going to be really great, we just have to get to the other side,” Moore said.

She said she expects business to pick up once sidewalks are added and people can walk to her store from City Springs and nearby neighborhoods.

The project’s apartments and townhomes are expected to open in January, followed by retailers moving in by April, according to Jerome Hagley, an executive vice president of Carter, one of the city’s development partners. City hall, the performing arts center, Studio Theater and the remaining elements are scheduled to open next summer.

Ultimately, once City Springs is finished and the residents, retailers and city officials move in, what’s important to Mayor Paul is not what people from Atlanta think, but what people from Sandy Springs think of their town.

“Five years from now I want to be the most envied community in metro Atlanta,” he said. “But 10 years from now, I want there to be a level of pride where everyone says ‘I’m from Sandy Springs.’ ”

In other North Fulton news:



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

BREAKING: 10-year-old girl shot in DeKalb County, police say
BREAKING: 10-year-old girl shot in DeKalb County, police say

A 10-year-old girl was shot in the arm in Scottdale Wednesday night, police confirmed to Channel 2 Action News. The child was shot on the 300 block of Hatton Drive at the Oak Forest Apartments a little after 10 p.m., DeKalb County police said.  She was transported to a local hospital and is in stable condition, Channel 2 reported. An investigation...
Atlanta charity worker fatally shot in head while driving home
Atlanta charity worker fatally shot in head while driving home

A metro Atlanta grandmother was shot and killed early Sunday morning while driving home from work, authorities said. Beverly Jenkins, 49, was driving her minivan home around 12:30 a.m. after working her shift at the City of Refuge, where she worked helping homeless mothers, Channel 2 Action News reported.  While driving near the intersection of...
GBI: Father runs from car as police find baby dead inside
GBI: Father runs from car as police find baby dead inside

A father was arrested after he fled a traffic stop, leaving authorities to find his 10-month-old daughter dead in the back seat of the car.  Cameron Ramon Reese, 22, faces aggravated assault and concealing the death of another charges after he ran from police during a traffic stop early Wednesday in Greenville, GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said...
Suspect arrested, accused of killing man found in shopping cart
Suspect arrested, accused of killing man found in shopping cart

A man accused of killing a man found in a shopping cart last month was arrested Wednesday, Atlanta police and jail records confirmed.  Details on Landus McBride’s arrest were not released.  Atlanta police identified McBride, 42, of Atlanta, earlier this week in the death of Thomas Hall.  RELATED: Police ID suspect accused...
Couple arrested, accused in $65K thefts at Athens middle school  
Couple arrested, accused in $65K thefts at Athens middle school  

A man and woman accused of pilfering more than $65,000 in copper and supplies from an Athens middle school were arrested at a motel in Banks County, officials confirmed Monday.  Eric Aguilar and Sierra Yuhas, both 28, were pulling out of the Comfort Inn on Devils Pond Road in Crawford when Banks County sheriff’s deputies arrested them on...
More Stories