The City of Powder Springs issued the following news release about the town hall last week that focused on downtown development:
A revitalized downtown core along with an expanded and diversified tax base are among the goals of development being sought by city leaders.
Development possibilities and the feasibility of new housing options within Powder Springs were presented by city officials and industry experts contracted by the city in an hourlong virtual town hall meeting Thursday night.
The town hall followed the Powder Springs City Council’s move forward this fall to exercise the city’s urban redevelopment powers as it looks to implement the Livable Centers Initiative plan, which was updated in 2016. To that end, the council’s approval of a Downtown Urban Redevelopment Plan enables the city and its Downtown Development Authority to encourage and partner with the private sector to develop mixed-use projects within the core area and infill development or redevelopment under a development agreement that would establish desired uses and development standards.
Consultants with TSW Design, a real estate planning and design firm contracted by the Powder Springs Downtown Development Authority, say that “consistent retail” properties in the downtown area is a crucial concept for sustainable city growth, while residential components are needed as “retail follows rooftops.”
Development of new commercial and residential properties in the downtown area would expand and diversify the city’s tax base, potentially relieving the burden on city residents.
POTENTIAL RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT
TSW’s work on the LCI plan, which has included discussions with community members and stakeholders, has resulted in a map showing a potential combination of new downtown development.
Possibilities for the land that currently includes City Hall and Community Development have created two possible site plans for development. One would develop the land to have two commercial buildings with 15,600 total square feet of space, along with 36 townhome units across six buildings. Alternatively, the area could see built one four-story mixed-use facility, with 19,600 square feet of retail on the ground floor and three floors totaling 48 residential units above; another 72 multi-family units would be spread across two separate buildings to the west of the multi-use building.
“In talking with various developers, if you were to build townhomes in the downtown market, a price of around $300,000 is around where they might sell, it might be a little bit more than that, depending on the product type and finishes,” says Ladson Haddow, managing partner at Haddow & Company Real Estate Consultants, which analyzed residential market data.
Townhome developers continue looking for opportunities in Cobb County, Haddow said, with the McEachern High school district reportedly the preferred area for developers scouring this portion of Cobb.
Regarding apartments, Haddow said a survey of three market-rate apartment communities totaling 810 units near downtown Powder Springs have an average monthly rent $1,369 and an average occupancy rate of 98%. The communities, he said, were built between 1999 and 2002. There is potential demand for a new apartment community in Powder Springs, Haddow said, if a developer can find enough land to deliver a surface-parked community.
“Given the prevailing rent [rates] being as strong as they are, for as old as that product is, that leads us to believe there is a market for apartments, if you are able to find the right site,” Haddow added.
OTHER DEVELOPMENT POSSIBILITIES
Additional development possibilities include a new two-story City Hall at the current site of the city’s Municipal Court, a 4,000-square-foot commercial property, and a three-story office building with a connected two-level parking deck with bridge. These facilities are proposed for construction on land north of the new Thurman Springs Park and between Oakview and Pineview drives.
To the east and south of Thurman Springs Park are proposed a total of 34 new townhomes, and another 4,000-square-foot commercial property.
New restaurants are “certainly a goal” of any new commercial development downtown, said Adam Williamson, senior principal at TSW Design.
City Manager Pam Conner said the Downtown Development Authority has received inquiries and verbal communications from developers eyeing the downtown for projects, with five expressing interest over the years, though no hard development proposal is yet in front of the DDA.
Powder Springs will host a “Developers’ Day” after the new year begins, Mayor Al Thurman said, which will allow firms to learn more about the opportunities afforded by city- and DDA-owned land.
The effects on traffic related to potential new development downtown have not been overlooked by the city, which has been working with Croy Engineering to study current and future conditions for both vehicles and pedestrians.
Croy’s Dan Dobry said among the study’s goals are to discourage cut-thru-traffic on Marietta Street. Reducing thru-traffic would relieve congestion for customers and clients of current and future commercial properties, and eventually, the new residents of downtown residential properties.
Other goals include supporting access to the Silver Comet Trail, and forecast parking to ensure availability to businesses, their customers and other visitors to downtown.
A replay of Thursday’s town hall can stream a video of it in its entirety at https://vidtvo.powderspringslive.com/video/309/town-hall-meeting-december-17-2020.