Alpharetta City Council took another big step toward development of the City Center site this week by approving a design development plan. Any major changes to the building or site plan designs after this point would send their architects and designers literally back to the drawing board and cost more money.
The biggest snag the city has encountered has been poor soil underneath the property, which will cost more than $1 million than was planned. Mike Hall of Jones, Lange Lasalle, the city's project manager said the City Center's budget has to be adjusted to make the numbers meet. The project is still expected to remain within the $29 million approved by voters in a bond referendum.
The design development approved includes the location of streets within the project site, their design and widths, placement of crosswalks, utilities, building faces for City Hall and the parking deck, the size of City Hall, location and size of offices within it, the park design, detention design and grading.
"Georgia Power is going to bury all the electrical on the site at no additional cost," Hall said.
Any overhead lines that remain will be pushed to the other side of Haynes Bridge Road on its new route.
The original plan for detention was going to be a hard, regular shape, but engineers have worked out something that integrates into the stream planned on the site, which Hall said would become an asset rather than a detraction. That part of the site can later become a passive park feature, adding a trail and a pedestrian bridge across a narrow section of what really will resemble a pond.
City residents who remember the gas station that used to be located at the site of the large parking lot beside City Hall won't be too surprised to learn that the underground storage tanks are still under all that dirt. Those will be removed in February, and by March 31 the construction manager will take over the site. That's when leases expire in the small shopping center next to the parking lot.
Anyone who attends meetings in the City Council chambers will be glad to hear that an audio-visual consultant is being hired to come up with a plan that allows everyone in the new City Hall meeting room see the screens displaying things such as City Center designs without having to squint. The new City Council chambers will seat 149 people, with some standing room available. The room will be wider than the current chambers, and not as long, putting everyone closer to the council and the screens.
The Town Green's grass will be planted – or sod put down – by August 2013 to give it plenty of time to take root before the heavy foot traffic expected when it opens in 2014. Large caliper trees – between 10 and 12 inches in diameter – will be planted next fall also.
The Atlanta-Fulton County Library will be able to start construction on the new Alpharetta Library branch in July 2013, if they are ready to begin.