Residents chime in on Sandy Springs’ north end redevelopment plans

TSW, a planning firm hired by Sandy Springs to get public feedback on redevelopment of the north end of town, heard from more than 200 people Thursday night.  Photo credit: Adrianne Murchson

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TSW, a planning firm hired by Sandy Springs to get public feedback on redevelopment of the north end of town, heard from more than 200 people Thursday night.  Photo credit: Adrianne Murchson

In Sandy Springs, a retired engineer would like to see less apartments on Roswell Road; a young professional says she can’t afford to rent; a high schooler wants walkability; a married couple said they commute from Midtown because they can’t afford a home in town; and a developer has concerns on zoning requirements and building heights.

TSW, a planning firm hired by Sandy Springs to get public feedback on redevelopment of the north end of town, heard from more than 200 people Thursday night. Groups of 10 people, including residents and business owners, were asked to agree on specific wants for the community. Green space, traffic abatement and a community center were popular ideas. Ways to address an affordable housing shortage were embraced by some and debated by others.

“Rents have increased all over,” said Manisha Lance. She and her husband, Will, have rented an apartment in the north end for two years. “I like it here and would like to stay. I would’ve liked to see more every day working people here tonight.”

Sandy Springs, which has fostered development along the Roswell Road corridor, has asked TSW to seek public input as it creates conceptual plans for the redevelopment of four shopping centers: North Springs Shopping Center, Northridge Shopping Center, North River Shopping Center and the former Loehmann’s Plaza. If the private property owners choose not to adopt the plans, the city would look at other sites, officials said.

Tom Walsh, a TSW co-founder, told attendees Thursday, “The input that we get from you, you will see reflected in the plans.”

Mixed-used communities at Gateway in the south end, and City Springs in the middle of town have set the tone for luxury living, dining and live entertainment, but there have been missteps along the way.

At Gateway, residents living at Chastain and Versailles apartments were not informed before the private project, completed in 2016, was approved by City Council. Residents, mostly low income, were displaced to make way for Sprouts, restaurants and The Collection luxury apartments.

City Springs, which opened in 2018, was created with community input. Residents said they wanted a multi-functional public space, in addition to a live, work, play design, and got it.

For north end redevelopment, Sandy Springs and TSW said they plan to increase community input through neighborhood events. TSW staff will be at City Springs Farmers Market and Community Assistance Center on May 2 to talk with residents. They also plan to host an outdoor family event at Northridge Shopping Center on May 9.

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul, in an earlier interview, said it’s important the city listen to residents.

“A healthy community is diverse in a lot of ways,” he said. “We want generational diversity. We need to promote younger families starting out. People use equity in their home to start a business and have kids. … Before we can improve where we are, we will do a study on the overall housing situation in Sandy Springs. We will see where the imbalances and gaps are.”