This past Monday, October 27, the Sandy Springs City Council held a special working session to discuss growth around the Perimeter Center, focusing on development of a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) program for the city and its surroundings. Mayor Rusty Paul highlighted the impact of Perimeter Center, saying, “The Perimeter Center is the economic engine for Sandy Springs and the entire metro Atlanta area. It is one of, if not the largest office markets within the Southeast. With an unprecedented surge in development interest, we want to make sure we have a unified, concise policy that allows for long term economic viability of this market, as well as ensure a high quality of life for existing and future residents and visitors.”
Perimeter Center currently has commercial real estate values totaling up to $3.36 billion, with over 123,000 people working in the area at 5,000 companies. They boast 33 million square feet of office space, including the largest Class A office market in the Southeast, offering 21 million square feet of Class A space, currently at a 90% occupancy. The Perimeter Community Improvement District (PCID) brings in a significant source of tax revenue for its 4.2 square mile size, bringing in $3.7 million in Fulton County and $2.4 million in DeKalb County in 2014 alone. There are many developments currently in the planning process to be located within the Perimeter Center area, such as Northpark and the State Farm campus, however, the current Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Map do not provide the necessary guidance for planning and zoning in the Sandy Springs section of the Perimeter Center area to allow for the desired amount of growth.
Sandy Springs is in a unique position, because it contains 3 of the 4 MARTA stations located within the 4.2 mile area of Perimeter Center. Looking at a ¼ mile radius, a comfortable walking distance for most, it can be seen that most of the Perimeter Center lies outside these radiuses. If the radius is expanded to one mile, almost all of Perimeter Center falls within these boundaries. The goal for Sandy Springs is to capture the work force within these regions and encourage higher density here, especially multifamily housing, to begin creating a work and housing balance, centered around transit stations. Mayor Paul commented, “Right now, we’re forcing people to drive to work,” stressing the lack of multifamily housing in the area.
A cohesive work and housing plan for the city directly tie into transportation for Perimeter Center. Currently, there is no plan for the City of Sandy Springs to implement any alternative transportation mode projects, though numerous studies have been done. This is something Sandy Springs hopes to change in the immediate and long term future, especially as it relates to congestion reduction. Sandy Springs is looking at bike and pedestrian improvements, as well as enhancements that can be done for MARTA and GRTA routes. Moving forward, the city council stressed the ability to coordinate with other local governments and agencies as a key to their success. “We can do all we can do in Sandy Springs, but we need to look regionally if we want to succeed. We need to look at mobility. We have to have a better balance in order to be the economic generator we know we can be,” said Mayor Paul. Moving forward, the City hopes to coordinate with Brookhaven, Dunwoody, PCID, GDOT and MARTA, to develop a unified Transportation Capital Improvement Program and action plan to identify the transportation priorities, with an ambitious goal of having 25% or more of trips in Perimeter Center being served by alternative transportation (not single occupant vehicles).
The Council for Quality Growth is encouraged by the discussion held Monday and will continue to engage the community and governments on these issues. We are excited about being part of the discussion, and moving forward, will continue to foster opportunities for regional cooperation.
To view the PowerPoint presentation from Sandy Springs, click HERE.