Developers plan to remodel historic Black school in Alpharetta

Credit: Kathleen Moon Photograph Collect

Credit: Kathleen Moon Photograph Collect

An Alpharetta building that operated as a school for Black children during segregation could soon be converted into a modern office space.

KB Venture Partners plans to construct and develop two office buildings and a parking deck on Kimball Bridge Road near the multi-use development Avalon. One of the buildings would be a renovation of the former Bailey-Johnson School.

KB Venture Partners, which wants to rezone the property from school use to office professional, is scheduled to appear before the Planning Commission on Aug. 5 and City Council on Aug. 16.

The former Bailey-Johnson School was open from 1950 to 1968 and served Black students in Alpharetta, Roswell and the community now known as Shakerag in Johns Creek. It was first called Alpharetta Colored School. It was the only school available to Black students in the area that went beyond 7th grade, according to Fulton County Schools.

The former school property is owned by Fulton County Schools and currently isn’t in use. In recent years it was used as a maintenance facility.

KB Venture plans to remodel the 40,000-square-foot structure into office space and include an adult playground outside, Alpharetta Community Development Director Kathi Cook said during a Tuesday meeting with the Historic Preservation Commission.

If approved by the city, the developer would build a three-story, 120,000-square-foot timber-frame office building beside it.

“It would actually be the first timber-frame office building, if approved, in Alpharetta,” Cook said.

Development plans include a parking deck of 407 spaces. Both buildings would have expansive windows, exposed concrete ceilings and loft space for some offices, according to the application.

“What they’ve found in the office market is there’s a lot of companies that are looking for smaller square footage — 2,500 square feet to 10,000 square feet — and that’s the market that they’re going after …” Cook said. “...Most of the developers that we meet with now, they would love to be able to find a historic building that they can convert to another use.”

The developers plan to honor the history of Bailey-Johnson School, she added.

Pat Miller, president of the Alpharetta Milton Historical Society, said she introduced Bruce Fernald of KB Ventures to school alumni who provided him with photos and history.

The school was named after George Bailey, a blacksmith and shop owner who donated the land, and Warren Johnson, a former slave and advocate for the education of Black children.

“It appears to me (KB Venture Partners is) genuinely interested in preserving the legacy of the school and not tearing it down,” she said. “I am pleased.”