We support the city’s decision to request proposals for the redevelopment of four under-utilized shopping centers on the north end of Sandy Springs, and the creation of a Community Center as is outlined in the Parks and Rec Master Plan.
The potential redevelopment of these properties will most likely send a message that the North End is “open for business” as the North End Revitalization Task Force Plan stated was needed to stimulate economic growth in this area of town.
We are, as is most everyone, in favor of economic growth on the North End and realize that a stimulus is most likely needed. However, we are concerned that there is no actionon the city’s part to create a place for the families presently living in the neighborhoods, a stated goal of the Task Force.
Our concern is that when people hear that “the north end is open for business,” gentrification will catch on like wildfire. This means that families who live nearby will be displaced and employees will be priced out of the city. The result will be that our employers will need to pay higher wages to compensate for the longer commutes of their employees and we’ll see even more traffic. As if that wasn’t enough, the cost of housing will only grow even higher. We have already seen this sequence of events with the Gateway project here in Sandy Springs.
Our city needs to get ahead of the predictable, and clearly avoidable, gentrification that the redevelopment of shopping centers and the creation of a Community Center will create. The city needs to learn from other cities’ mistakes and take the bold steps necessary to create a policy that supports the affordability of housing for all income levels.
Some of these policies include creating incentives for apartment owners in the form of tax abatements and other municipal tools to hold down rents and stabilize their workforce.
We strongly encourage the redevelopment and improvement of the North End. But we also encourage policies that will keep the negative impact of these changes in check.