In-depth architectural design work begins for Holocaust memorial center

Sandy Springs is partnering with the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust to build the memorial and a new Anne Frank exhibit

Sandy Springs’ plans for a Holocaust memorial center on Blue Stone Road are proceeding.

During a Tuesday meeting of the Public Facilities Authority, the city approved a new contract with House Walker Architecture firm for in-depth architectural, engineering and design services in the amount of $582,700.

The firm performed feasibility studies for the memorial center under a previous contract awarded in 2018 totaling $162,500.

That year, the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust was appointed by the General Assembly to create a new Holocaust memorial at a prominent location.

Sandy Springs is partnering with the commission to build the memorial and a new Anne Frank exhibit at the Heritage Building property at 6110 Blue Stone Road. The property, which is owned by the Public Facilities Authority, will be redeveloped and the commission will rent the space.

Plans are to demolish the existing Heritage building and construct a new 13,000-square-foot structure in which the commission would occupy up to 8,700-square-feet of space.

Officials have discussed placing Visit Sandy Springs tourism organization and Sandy Springs Police Bicycle Patrol in the remaining 5,000-square-feet of space but final decisions will be made through the design process, Dave Wells, director of Facilities/Capital Construction and Building Operations, said.

A total of $2.4 million is available for the redevelopment in the city’s capital projects fund, Wells said.

In previous meetings, officials have estimated the cost for construction of a new building would be $1.6 million.

The Blue Stone Road property was approved by City Council in August after nearly a year and half of debate among residents and officials on whether the memorial center should be located in Sandy Springs. Some who objected said the William Bremen Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta already attracts the visitors that Sandy Springs would want to draw from. Others cited concerns that the city is facing the possibility of receiving less local option sales tax (LOST) revenue from Fulton County.

The commission’s lease agreement with Sandy Springs requires a letter of credit for the rental payments in the amount of at least $3 million for a 20-year lease. The organization has raised nearly $4 million in private donations and pledges, Commission Chairperson Chuck Berk has said.

The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam is helping the commission create exhibits.

A high-tech interactive exhibit created by the USC Shoah Foundation and titled “Dimension in Testimony” will allow visitors standing in front of a video screen to ask questions related to a Holocaust experience and a survivor will appear on the video with an answer.