The final plan for redesigning Roswell’s historic gateway along Highway 9 was presented to City Council and the general public last week, and even half of its implementation could radically change the face of the North Fulton city as we know it. Masterminding the plan was Duany Plater Zyberk (DPZ), the planning firm that basically wrote the book on New Urbanism. Roswell’s historic charms are well known in the Atlanta area, but to say that the Highway 9 corridor is lacking is putting it politely; the astounding transformation of Canton Street into Virginia Highland North has many thinking the city’s original core just to the south could mimic its success if some big ideas are implemented. Make no little plans, indeed.
First up: a new Civic Square that creates a better focal point than a gas station at the intersection of Canton Street and Highway 9. Roswell’s existing City Hall is pretty darn impressive, but it’s well hidden from the main road by foliage. They’ve got the goods, so why not show them off? DPZ’s idea is to move some roads and create a grand public space fronted by City Hall as well as a new library and arts center.
The original town square is a bit of a conundrum: it’s cut off from its main historic “liner” buildings by hectic traffic, and aside from city events it usually serves a quiet existence as a green ornament. In order to infuse more pedestrian oriented commercial uses into the area, DPZ is proposing the creation of a new street that would run parallel to Highway 9 and behind the original buildings on the square. It’s a gutsy scheme in a city with a tough historic preservation review board, but given the circumstances it could be the only choice. The last idea isn’t quite as revolutionary but it would still complement the other two: creating a mixed use “Main Street” environment along just south of the historic square along the section of road that’s notorious for its “suicide lanes.” Time will tell if we see any of these changes in our lifetimes, but oh the possibilities!
· Historic Gateway Project and Plan [City of Roswell]
· Roswell Council Sees Final Proposed Plans for City's Historic Gateway [Roswell Patch]