During a Monday night forum, most of the City Council
District 6 candidates said the City Center development planned at the former
Target site will give Sandy Springs its own identity.
Candidate Patty Berkovitz explained that Target site named as a city hall site before Sandy Springs became a city.
“Sandy Springs Revitalization, Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods, all of the boards worked together and came to that conclusion,” she said. “When we became a city, the opportunity was available to buy it, and I’m pleased that the city purchased that property.”
The forum was held at Northwest Presbyterian Church. Moderator Clarke Otten asked the candidates if the success of Sandy Springs as a vibrant community depends on the government operating at a new city hall complex.
John Stoj said that when going door to door to talk to residents, some worried that the development could be too massive and have used the term ‘Taj Mahal.’
“No, we don’t need a city hall there but we need a City Center, and those can be combined intelligently. And as long as we work together as a community to do that, that’s okay,” he said.
Andy Bauman, who supports the City Center project, has operated Sandy Springs Farmers Market at the site for four years. A typical Saturday draws 1,000 people, he said.
“That market is evident that people of our community want a central gathering place,” he said. “What I’m opposed to are courts and police at that location…We do need a City Center. We do need city hall. Not some monument to government. It needs to be a functional appropriate government for the kind of city that we are.”
Sonja Tonpea said she envisions a new city hall differently. “When I’m look at a city hall, I’m looking at the statues, where I can take care of business,” she said. “Maybe in the future we can go with all the other entities that everyone is talking about. Right now let’s get us to a place where we can feel comfortable and go to that place and can say, ‘This our city hall…’
Jennifer Steel said the City Center project is important to Sandy Springs’ revitalization for economic development. “The location that we chose at Target, I feel is prime real estate,” she said. “It’s a positive thing. I see no downside to putting City Hall at that location.”
Berkovitz and Bauman added that the project, which is expected to result in restaurants, boutiques and green space needs to environmentally sound.
Berkovitz said, “It would stimulate the development of a downtown center. I hope that that’s what’s going to happen, but I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen.”