City leaders take notes from Roswell, Woodstock for redevelopment ideas

Several City staff and elected officials recently visited Roswell and Woodstock to learn more about their downtown redevelopment successes. Pictured (l-r) are Mayor Ed Johnson, council members Harlan Shirley, Kathaleen Brewer and Rich Hoffman, Fire Chief Alan Jones, and Downtown Development Director Brian Wismer. City Manager Ray Gibson, who took this photo, was also on the trip.

The City of Fayetteville reached another downtown redevelopment milestone on Oct. 4, when City Council members approved hiring Atlanta-based architectural firm Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood to work on the new City Hall and park space project, which will be developed on the former Fayette County Board of Education 10-acre site fronting Stonewall Avenue. Demolition work is due to begin in early 2019, followed by land-grading work in the spring, and the new City Hall is expected to be open by summer 2020.

City leaders for nearly two years have visited other cities in the Atlanta area, including Duluth, Suwanee, Sugar Hill, and Milton, to learn about their experiences of building new city halls and of redeveloping portions of their downtown districts. In September, Woodstock and Roswell were added to the list.

“In Roswell, they stressed the importance of incentivizing business development through infrastructure,” said Fayetteville Downtown Development Director Brian Wismer, who was one of the City officials to join in the single-day, two-city tour. “They focus on building streets, underground utilities, et cetera, that facilitate new business growth.”

Wismer said the group learned a lot in Woodstock as well.

“One of the mixed-use developers in Woodstock has filed a rezoning request in Downtown Fayetteville,” Wismer said. “We were able to tour his development there and get a good feel for the quality of their product. The city leadership in Woodstock was very complimentary of the developer as a community partner.

“We also heard about the values of proper street planning for cars and pedestrians to maintain a welcoming feel in the Historic Downtown District,” Wismer added.

While much of this talk of redeveloping Downtown Fayetteville may seem new to some, others know that redevelopment plans actually surfaced well before the 2007 financial downturn, which put everything on hold.

“The City got serious in 2008, when the Fayetteville Downtown Development Authority purchased the old Travis Hardware building on the Old Courthouse Square and began searching for a signature tenant to help redefine the Square,” said Wismer. “But it was The Olde Courthouse Tavern that really showed that a restaurant on the Square could be successful. We have built on that success ever since.”

Now the Old Courthouse Square is home to four successful restaurants: The Olde Courthouse Tavern, Twisted Taco, Oz Pizza, and Margarita Momma’s. Two other establishments just off the Square, Dunkin’ Donuts to the north and City Café to the south, have been doing well for many years.

Learn more about the City’s downtown redevelopment efforts by visiting and searching for “Downtown Master Plan”.

Oct 16, 2018 10:02 am |