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Entries in Historic Roswell (31)


Stop the Madness: HOLY Knee Jerk Reaction

This is what I would call an impressive knee jerk reaction to the recently passed and enacted Safe Carry Protections Act here in Georgia.  The new legislation basically says properly licensed gun owners can carry a properly registered gun pretty much anywhere they want.  This includes bars, churches, stores, schools and some government buildings.  I personally am not a fan and from the looks of it, neither is the Zions Baptist Church.  

I'm thinking this is a statement but maybe it's just another sign of our sign culture gone wild.  Either way, the fervor with which they have posted signs on their property is both equally impressive and depressing.  Oversigning for any reason cheapens our public realm and reduces the connection and intimacy that one feels for a place.  I counted no fewer than 20 signs and I snapped pics of most of them.  Have fun with my photo anthology of hideous signs posted in reaction to a ridiculous law.  

I didn't go inside but I wouldn't be surprised to see a sign posted on the cross hanging over the altar.




East West Alley Master Plan - Info Sessions..

If you are interested in what is going on with the East West Alley Master Plan, there are some meetings coming up later this month and later this summer that you will want to try to attend.  The Schedule is posted at the end of this post.  The first of the meetings will be next Wednesday at City Hall Room 220 at 5pm.  I'm really interested in seeing what concepts will be discussed.  Personally, I hope they look at making the alleys intos woonerfs (shared space where pedestrians and bicyclists have priority).  Additionally, we should look at paving them in brick from building face to building face.  This would add character and further enhance the pedestrian focus.

Here are a few imags from Jen Kempson's Integrated Alley Handbook that focuses on converting alleys in Seattle into actual livable places that add value to the city.  We could take a page from these concepts..



Meetings regarding Concept Plans
July 9, 2014 at 5:00p.m., City Hall, Room 220: Public Open House to present and discuss concept plans
July 9, 2014 at 7:00p.m., City Hall, Council Chambers: HPC Hearing - Discussion of Concept Plans with HPC
July 14, 2014 at 5:30 p.m., City Hall, Room 220: Work Session with Mayor and City Council to present and discuss concept plans
Meetings regarding Draft Master Plan
August 13, 2014 at 6:00p.m., City Hall, Council Chambers: HPC Hearing – Discussion of Draft Master Plan with HPC
August 19th, 2014 at 6:00p.m., City Hall, Room 220: Public Open House to present Draft Master Plan

August 25, 2014 at 5:30 p.m., City Hall, Room 220: Work Session with Mayor and City Council to review and discuss Master Plan

September 10, 2014 at 7:00 p.m., City Hall, Council Chambers: Present Master Plan for Adoption at Mayor and City Council Meeting




Goulding Place Single Family Renderings

While sifting through the upcoming city meetings schedule, I came across the first renderings I've seen of the Front Door Communities single family product that will be going up at Goulding Place.  I'm a little disappointed by the percentage of homes that have front loader garages.  That really isn't in keeping with the rest of Goulding Place even though the builder is making some effort to maintain a consistent architecture.  The biggest thing I like about this project is the opportunity for connectivity.

Here are the images beginning with the Site Plan..



The East West Alley Master Plan

City council will be voting Monday on a proposal by city staff to hire POND & Co to conduct a master plan for the area that is being called the East West Alley.  I didn't know it had a name but apparently now it does.  The boundary map is below.



The Primary focus will be the Web St area from Canton St to Mimosa.  From the city memorandum:

The purpose of the master plan is to have a comprehensive development approach in the alleys built on consensus and good planning principles including land use, transportation and stormwater.

I sure do hope they adhere to the "good planning principles" piece of that statement.  A charette will be conducted at some point during the process and everyone who is interested should pay attention to that and participate if possible.  I will provide dates when they become available in a subsequent post.

Here are some things I would like to see in that area..

  • Mixed-Use + Parking - How about a mixed-use building to replace the Antique Market that would front Canton Street, have shops along Webb St and have a parking deck in the back.  Maybe a good use would be a hotel.
  • Playground - How about a small playground somewhere?  I've always thought the Canton Street area was lacking a high quality playground that parents could stop off at.
  • NO WIDE ROADS - part of the coolness of alleys is that they are narrow and cozy.  DOT, please don't ruin that with 10+ foot lanes.  Please.
  • Fill the Missing Teeth - in addition to the missing tooth that is the Antique Market parking lot, we need to fill in the missing tooth that is the space just to the south of the Board of Trade.  That spot is in need of a building.

What do you think should be emphasized in this master plan?



Support the Roswell City Green

In 2012, world renowned planner Andres Duany came to Roswell.  He and his team were hired by the city to do a master plan for Historic Roswell.  His original task was to master plan the area from the river to the historic square but when he visited he was impelled to take a look at the Canton St, Hwy 9 & Magnolia intersection as well.  What he envisioned was bold and has kept the city’s imagination moving ever since.  In the master plan, he proposed a large square on the grounds behind City Hall that would reroute Hwy 9 around the square and closer to City Hall while creating a formal space that could be fronted by three additional civic buildings.

Original DPZ concept of a traffic square.Unfortunately, the vision could not be made to work due to the high traffic volume on Hwy 9.  Since then, the idea has gone through several iterations from Duany’s square to the RDOT’s giant roundabout to Lew Oliver and Alex Paulson’s conceptual master plan with a very formal classic green.  The downtown development authority (DDA) felt there was something to the iterations and hired the local firm, JB+a, to draw up a plan.

That plan is fully baked and is designed to complement and build upon the energy that radiates from Canton St.  It calls for a beautiful tree-lined green between City Hall and Hwy 9 that will finally connect our most important civic building to the street.  It also proposes a number of additional, unique amenities.  First, the Faces of War Memorial will become a much more prominent feature.  A final decision on where and how it will be positioned has not been made but the outcome will give it the honor and respect that it is due.  Second, a beautiful, cozy open-air amphitheater will be built nestled into the trees between the green and Smith Plantation.  Third, a group of three buildings including a larger mixed-use building and two smaller outparcel buildings will be built.  

Details of use and design for the project haven’t been finalized but suggested uses include restaurants with outdoor seating, corner coffee shop, meeting space, art studios/galleries, water feature/sprayground.  There will be enhanced connectivity across the entire project that will improve walkability and make the 400 or so parking spaces at City Hall a better option for parking for anyone visiting Canton St or the new City Green.  It’s not bad now and it’ll be even better with the City Green.

It’s time for the city to show a commitment to the heart of Roswell and invest in the future.  We have an amazing civic space that has been hidden from view for 20+ years just waiting to be unearthed.  The grounds of City Hall and the Smith Plantation need an opportunity to come out of hiding and help expand the walkable center of Roswell.  The time is now. City Green will create an excellent civic and cultural asset.  It will enhance walkability and it will deliver the much needed active and flexible civic space that is essential to the continued revitalization of our town center.

The plan calls for three phases with an estimated total cost of around $12 million with a little less than half of that coming from the city as there are grants and private dollars that will be in play.  The projected return in private development from this project is enormous.  The DDA estimates that this project will entice over $200 million in private development in and around our town center. 

The Return on Investment alone is a no-brainer!  These investments work and there are many case studies to follow; Downtown Woodstock, Glenwood Park, Historic Norcross, Downtown Greenville... A little civic courage can go a long way.

There is some urgency as there are already three walkable town centers currently in some stage of development in our neighboring cities of Sandy Springs and Alpharetta.  The new era of walkable, people focused development is upon us and it's time for the city to take a step and commit to building our own walkable village here in Roswell.

You can get more info at

You can support the project and send your support to the Mayor and Council at


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Bring Back the Coca-Cola Sign...

While I was watching the Roswell circa 1942 video on YouTube!, I noticed that there used to be one of those old-timey Coca-Cola signs on the side of the building where Go With the Flow is currently.  I really think it would be cool to bring that back... or even put up a cool kayaking themed mural on that wall given that we are "a premier riverside community" and Go With the Flow is the top kayaking shop in the region.

Here's what it used to look like.. not sure who the man is but he probably never expected that his image would be blasted out on the interwebs in 2014.


Support the Roswell Town Green

I created an online petition in support of the Town Green.  Please take a minute to sign it if you support this effort.  



You can also read up on it here, here & here.


The State of the City.. Walkability Has a Bright Future

If you can take one thing away from the State of the City address that was delivered by Mayor Jere Wood earlier this month, it is that walkablity has a bright future in Roswell.  It's refreshing to know that we have city leadership that for the most part understands that a focus on creating a more pedestrian friendly environment is critical to building a sustainable city.

The mayor hits on Old Town Roswell's status as one of the 27 existing Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs) in the metro Atlanta and discusses building on our existing good bones in what he is referring to as Old Town Roswell which many may know as Historic Roswell.  Here are some of my favorite quotes...

For the past 60 years, we knew how development occurred...  There are no farms left, there is very little vacant land.  So we're looking for a new pattern. That growth is going to occur primarily in the hwy 9 corridor from HBR s to the river which includes Canton St.

For the purposes of this talk, I'm going to call that area Old Town Roswell.  Because it really is pretty much the boundaries of the city in 1854.  That's where you are going to see the growh in the future occur.  It's going to occur by converting old strip centers and old apartments into a walkable village.  A walkable village is someplace that you can easily walk to every where you go every day without getting in a car.

To be walkable, a community must be compact.  The residential and commercial uses must be next to each other not spread out and segregated as we have seen in the past. So this isn't your typical subdivision.  This is what you think of when you think of a village.

To be walkable, a community must be connected.  That connection is through a grid of streets, alleys and sidewalks.  Fortunately, that is what we have in Old Town Roswell.  We're gonna add to that grid.  It's totally different than what you have seen in the past which is a subdivision with cul-de-sacs and shopping centers that are not connected to their neighbors.  We're seeing a new development pattern.  Again, this is in Old Town Roswell and I don't see it going beyond that at this point in time.

We're going to grow by compact development within Old Town Roswell.  

There are a number of other great points in the video which every Roswell resident should watch.


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Roswell Town Green Renderings

The DDA presented their vison for the Roswell Town Green to the City Council and what was probably an audience of 40+ citizens and city staff this evening.  Monica Hagewood and Dave Schmit of the DDA took the council and audience through the vision for the project and some of the key economic numbers that they feel justify the project. 

In all, the project would be completed in three phases and would cost an estimated $12.1 million.  This seems steep but when you weigh it against the expected private investment that the DDA feels it would spur on, it starts to look like a bargain.  They feel that this redevelopment could result in an additional $200+ million in investment in the core of our city.  These are estimates but they are being done by industry veterans and thus should have some credibility.  

The renderings were nice.  They illustrated the proposed vision but the DDA was careful to remind the audience that these are conceptual to illustrate the vision and that many of the fine details would need to be worked out as the project progresses.  Here are the illustrations.






images: Roswell Downton Development Authority


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Support the City Hall Green

This is an open letter from local designer and urban planner Lew Oliver in support of the DDA's vision for the City Hall Green. There is a presentation of the project tonight at 530 at City Hall for anyone interested...

Hats off to Monica Hagewood and the DDA for championing a winning design for the City Hall Green. This project will provide the much needed active civic space that is essential to revive our historic core.

As an active design participant in Woodstock Downtown, Avalon, Vickery, Serenbe, Glenwood Park, of recent, Savannah River Street West, as well as many more downtown revitalization projects worldwide, I have seen the successes of many parallel projects.

When implemented, the project design, along with the street scape improvements shown in the master plan, will stimulate new development in our downtown. Without it, Roswell will fall behind. The real danger now is of losing momentum, and failing to attract top talent, new families, creative youth, the new class of empty nesters, and ultimately, our ability to develop a new economy.

This project should be endorsed wholeheartedly by you, our elected
officials, with full funding. Many of us have anticipated bond referendum money to be made available at this time. While it is prudent and responsible to consider phasing of the project, the full aesthetic impact and usability of the project cannot be achieved without full implementation--that is, no one will use a park that is not complete with excellent detailing. The project will achieve efficiency in construction by condensing many phases into one. We are now in a positive upturn, and must now seize this opportunity. This window may not stay open long.

Many have rallied behind you for this very goal to be achieved. It is the product of diverse visions which have united behind a common provide the catalyst for our renaissance.

While the plan needs tuning and polishing, it can be done so now with full City support. It is time to act proactively, showing the DDA and your community that you are indeed leaders with bold vision and action.

Thanks for your support.

Lew Oliver