Two years ago, in Atlanta’s Edge Cities Develop New City Centers, I focused on how several of Atlanta’s edge cities, like Sandy Springs and Alpharetta, were attempting to create an “attractive sense of place.” This trend continues today, with Sandy Springs’ continued development, Roswell’s success and Peachtree Corners’ growth.
More millennials are in their 30’s, and they’re looking for affordable housing in Atlanta to own, proximity to quality schools and work, convenience and, above all, a sense of place. With the rise of multi-use developments and entertainment centers in Atlanta’s suburbs, these folks are settling more and more in edge cities. Let’s take a closer look at some of these communities:
In my first blog, City Springs, the soon-to-be 14-acre civic and cultural center of Sandy Springs, was still renderings and plans, but earlier this year, it announced its first [retail] tenants, with construction expected to reach completion summer 2018. Two fitness concepts are “the first signed retailers at what’s planned to be the Fulton County city’s nerve center for government, arts, and walkable shopping outdoors.”
Penned as the “heartbeat” of downtown Sandy Springs, City Springs also includes the City Springs Performing Arts Center, which is already booked for its first event, Sandy Springs’ annual “State of the City” address on June 26th. The event will be held in the 350-seat studio theater, “a 5,000-square foot flexible space that…serve[s] as a meeting space, a venue for small performances or a location for corporate meetings and banquet-style events.”
This municipal center already is generating demand for residential and retail developments along the Roswell Road corridor and a new planning initiative for the North Springs area of the City.
Have you been to Canton Street in downtown Roswell on a Friday night lately? It’s bumping. Roswell has arrived. Take Alive in Roswell for example, the city’s monthly, family-friendly street party. The festival occurs each 3rd Thursday evening, from April through October.
The AJC claims, “Roswell’s Canton Street has transformed in recent years into one of the most relevant city centers in the Atlanta metro region.” Pair street festivals with the Roswell historic district’s open container law, in force all the time, and you can imagine the livelihood. Think restaurants, like Little Alley Steak and Table & Main, or the rooftop bar at PURE taqueria, and you get the picture.
Peachtree Corners became Gwinnett County’s 16th city (and its largest at 40K+ population) in 2011. Now, Peachtree Corner’s new Town Center is under construction. A 21-acre tract of land, located on the 5200 block of Peachtree Parkway, the center includes entertainment, retail, office and townhomes, framing a 2+-acre town green, that serves as a community gathering place and features a Veteran’s Monument, to be unveiled in summer 2018.
Peachtree Corners already has another attractive place to shop, dine and visit, The Forum on Peachtree Parkway, a European-inspired outdoor mall offering “an elite collection of merchants.”
The Suburban, Urban Tradeoff
One of Atlanta’s greatest features has always been the quality of life in its suburbs. I believe this still to be true, but the days of suburban sprawl—with significant dependence on automobiles, strip malls and low-rise office buildings—are over for now. Fortunately, the leadership of edge cities recognize that today’s population wants to drive less and enjoy an urban experience more.
As millennials start to make more money and build families, they will also start to desire more space. They could buy a nice suburban townhome near a city center in Sandy Springs or Roswell for less than renting a small Buckhead or Midtown apartment. At some point, there is a tradeoff. And the suburbs are looking more and more like a desirable option.
What do you think about the development of city centers in Atlanta’s edge cities? Do you think this might entice city dwellers to consider suburban living?