Wednesday at City Hall, Sandy Springs Planning Commission chair Lee Duncan said the commissioners want to see recommendations based on market research and the potential return on the city’s investment.
“We’re not so much into the magic of architecture as we are into the practicality of the approach,” he said.
Carlson guided a discussion on the firm’s findings with an eye to the city center’s potential effect on zoning, the commission’s focus, which includes the number of units per acre, heights of buildings and other construction aspects as well as traffic concerns.
“All those driveways that go up and down on Roswell Road really have an impact on the congestion,” he said about 47,000 vehicles per day.
Commissioner Steve Tart said routing drivers behind buildings and using east-west streets for access may be the key.
“If we have a public facility, the city may give up curb cuts on Roswell Road,” he said. “Some of those curb cuts need to go away.”
Duncan said incentives, like negotiating on landscape buffers and greenspace requirements, may work better than ordinances to create interparcel access.
“The punitive approach generally doesn’t work real well,” he said.
The city center may include mixed-use features like retail, restaurants and housing, which Dixon said is gravitating toward upscale rentals.
“The nature of the rental market has shifted much higher,” he said. “Rental is no longer seen as a second choice. It’s a market for much higher quality than past rental markets.”
However, Duncan said aging apartment complexes have been a thorn in the city council’s side.
“The issue that keeps coming up is how much of this is going to be rentable property and how much is going to be sold as owner-occupied property. It comes up all the time,” he said. “The city has some resistance to apartments, as you probably picked up. We need a better understanding of how what you’re proposing blends in with what the city fathers expect.”
Housing market researcher Laurie Volk will complete her work soon, Carlson said, as will a zoning expert.
“We see opportunities to streamline that,” he said about the city’s zoning ordinance.
The firm updated the economic development advisory committee Tuesday.