Alpharetta City Council Unveils its Plans for Downtown

The new plan includes a site for Alpharetta’s new library branch, a park and a new City Hall.

Alpharetta City Council unveiled its latest plans for a downtown development, which include a new City Hall and a new Fulton County Library branch, promising the plan could be realized without raising taxes.

The concept unveiled at City Council’s May 23 meeting includes the construction of a five acre community park, a one-acre town green, the new library branch and a new 47,000-square-foot City Hall, a 450-space parking structure and the repositioning of Haynes Bridge Road.

Haynes Bridge Road would be realigned to fit the project by shifting just north of its intersection with Old Milton Parkway to the east so that it intersects with Academy Street and Brooke Street. In this way, the area becomes more suited to pedestrians.

A variation on this plan had been brought up before, but was voted against mainly because of economic considerations.

“The downtown plan of old, Douglas DeRito and I saw, had serious economic flaws,” said Councilman D.C. Aiken, who admits being originally against the plan. “At that point, we didn’t give up on the downtown plan, it was ‘how can we do this and do it right?'”

Councilman DeRito emphasized the notion of new businesses coming to Alpharetta.

“We’re going to see some of the business sectors growing, even in the toughest economic time that I’ve seen in my lifetime,” he said.

Councilman Mike Kennedy echoed this viewpoint.

“We want to create a vibrant downtown where people can shop and eat. It might turn into boutiques, coffee shops,” he said.

Throughout the unveiling of the plan, the relevant theme was to make Alpharetta a more bustling, popular, lively town.

“We wanted to give this city a heart and a vibrancy, which it really has been missing,” said Councilwoman Cheryl Oakes.

By far, the most vital part of this project would be the new library, an idea that has been on the table for years.

“Early this month, your city and mayor decided to donate three acres of land for the library,” said Councilman Jim Paine. “About three years ago, we got involved in the process.”

Paine said that a library will be beneficial to making Alpharetta a current, social city.

“A library is a very central and important part of this development,” he said. “I hope everyone in this room has been to a library recently. It is not the same old, dusty room full of books that you remember as a kid. It’s exciting and dynamic. They have technology, the Internet, and are key to socialization. It’s exciting.”

Fulton County has yet to pick its library site or take the city up on its offer. The library branch would be built using funds from a bond referendum approved by county voters, not through city funding.

For citizens who are concerned that all of these changes will be costly, the assembly of officials tried to assure them that they need not worry. By keeping quiet about the situation, Alpharetta was able to purchase eight acres of land at a reasonable price–$4.5 million. Altogether, 22 acres of land will cover the whole plan. Because Alpharetta already owns the land for this project, taxes should not have to be raised for it to become a reality.

UPDATED: Public meetings and open houses will be scheduled, with more details revealed then, including cost esimtates on the project.

“A little patience will show off a long way when we can do everything we wanted and more without having to raise takes,” said Aiken.

The city has added pages to its web site on which citizens can view images of conceptual plans, get information on the proposed development, and share their thoughts and impressions.  Visit for more information.

By Rene’ Quigley