Downtown update approved in Austell

Last formed in 2002, the updated Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) Study revises the vision for downtown Austell. (Rendering courtesy of TSW)
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Last formed in 2002, the updated Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) Study revises the vision for downtown Austell. (Rendering courtesy of TSW)

An updated vision for downtown Austell was approved recently by the Austell City Council.

That vision is included in the Downtown Austell Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) Study.

Priority projects would include:

  • forming the Town Green.
  • activating the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).
  • enacting the Quiet Zone.

Categories include Land Use and Development (18 goals), Economic Development (six goals), Parks and Recreation (seven goals) and Transportation (19 goals).

Goal 1: Housing Choice

  • Work with developers to create housing that will attract new residents to downtown Austell.
  • Preserve naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAHs).
  • Modify residential zoning districts.
  • Modify the Central Business District zoning district.
  • Encourage the development of senior housing.

Goal 2: Business Recruitment and Job Creation

  • Update the zoning ordinance.
  • Engage with organizations - such as the Georgia Downtown Association and other third parties - to gain additional insights into best practices for developing a downtown area.
  • Promote downtown as a filming location for movie and TV productions.
  • Utilize the Enterprise Zone to provide incentives to private businesses with the purpose of creating jobs and investing in the LCI area.
  • Consider a Tax Allocation District (TAD) for the area.
  • Utilize the Downtown Development Authority.
  • Ensure that the Downtown Development Authority is staffed and empowered to act.
  • Increase staffing power.

Goal 3: Public Spaces

  • Include usable open space and parks into new developments.
  • Create spaces suitable for people of all ages, including children and the elderly.

Goal 4: Placemaking

  • Continue to program festivals and events to keep bringing visitors to downtown Austell.
  • Develop a visual “brand” for downtown Austell.
  • Expand signage and wayfinding.
  • Identify the appropriate art mediums and locations for public art.
  • Create a cohesive look and feel throughout the downtown area.

Goal 5: Connectivity and Accessibility

  • Create a unified, connected downtown.
  • Enact a Quiet Zone for the portion of the railroad that crosses downtown Austell.
  • Encourage the creation of innovative street networks that accommodate pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles.
  • Create a network of multi-use trails that connect to destinations.
  • Develop and implement urban design and streetscape standards that contribute to a walkable, pedestrian-oriented environment.

In an Oct. 4 memo from Councilwoman Valerie Anderson and Community Affairs Department Director Darrell Weaver to Mayor Ollie Clemons and the City Council, the plan “focused on stimulating economic growth by revitalizing the historic downtown area, creating a visually aesthetic community to enhance character and identify and promote transportation safety, connectivity and accessibility by expanding multi-modal opportunities.”

Through the guidance of Clemons, the City Council, the Project Management team, the Core Team and the TSW Consultant team, the update included a study of existing conditions and public engagement with Austell citizens and business community.

That process led to establishing a shared vision for downtown Austell and developing an implementation strategy.

In a competitive selection process in 2020, the city chose the firm TSW to prepare a major update to the 2002 Downtown Austell Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) plan.

Sponsored by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) and working with the city’s Community Affairs staff, TSW was able to bring together community planners, designers, engineers and economists to prepare the update.

Information: austellga.gov/CityNews.aspx?CNID=5272

Updated downtown plan: tsw.mysocialpinpoint.com/downtown-austell-lci