Avondale Estates City Commission, DDA discuss town green project
By Zoe Seiler, contributor
Avondale Estates, GA — The Avondale Estates City Commission and Downtown Development Authority met for a joint work session on April 21 to discuss the city’s major projects.
The two groups mainly focused on the town green project which is a joint venture between the City Commission, the DDA and the Urban Redevelopment Agency. The project includes the construction of a park and a potential event pavilion that will be located along Highway 278/ North Avondale Road.
The design work has been completed for the project and the city has acquired the right of way, which is the old Lifeline Animal Project property.
Fabric Developers has recommended Reeves Young as the firm to construct the town green. The base bid came in at about $5.7 million which includes the park, stormwater, construction of the new street and the interim solution.
The City Commission is also looking to add a fountain to the park and more lighting along Lake Street.
The Urban Redevelopment Agency, which is composed of the members of the City Commission, will have to vote on this recommendation on Wednesday, April 28.
The DDA has discussed funding the stormwater solutions and the interim solution.
The city had to negotiate a new agreement with Fabric Developers after the scope of the project changed. The original concept included a mixed-use, condo-retail building but the commercial development isn’t feasible at this time, Bryant said at the Feb. 10 regular meeting.
The city is planning on constructing a temporary solution that will essentially be an event pavilion for food trucks, pop up stores and other things to activate the park.
“Any cost for the town green project that can be offset by DDA funds such as the stormwater solution or the interim solution will allow the city to either borrow under the BAN cap or use funds allowed for within the BAN cap to address other issues like future street grid improvements, and so on and so forth,” City Manager Patrick Bryant said.
The stormwater and the development of the surrounding areas is critical to the project, Assistant City Manager Shannon Powell said. The stormwater will support the park, the commercial development and the adjacent sites.
“It is a tool to support and encourage development,” Powell said. “It’s also kind of a critical piece in helping move the park forward and the interim solution really sets up the park for future development and maintains activity on the site while we’re waiting for the development to come to fruition.”
Part of the meeting also revolved around getting thoughts from the DDA on funding the stormwater and interim solutions.
The DDA has discussed potential capital projects and while the board hasn’t voted yet, the cost and the projects aren’t surprising, DDA Chair Dave Deiters said.
“I will say that we affirmed our number one priority continues to be the development of the town green and the surrounding commercial development as an activation mechanism for the rest of the downtown, so I think we would excitedly take that up at our next meeting,” Deiters said.
The only thing the DDA asked for clarification on is if the entities involved are close to a decision on a permanent commercial development as the DDA may not be ready to take up the interim solution, Deiters said.
Fabric Developers debuted a new permanent commercial concept this week to city staff, Bryant said.
“However, even if we move quickly on making a decision about the permanent commercial solution, staff is recommending fully to the BOMC next Wednesday to accept the proposal made by Fabric which would be inclusive of the temporary solution as it’s already been outlined to both the board and, I believe, the DDA,” Bryant said.
If the City Commission and the DDA come to an agreement on a permanent commercial solution during the construction of the town green, then Fabric Developers can pivot.
The money dedicated to the temporary solution would move the city toward a permanent commercial solution, Bryant said.
“Much of the cost of the temporary solution is ground work which would be necessary to prepare the site for a permanent infrastructure and building anyway so we think that any money that is pledged toward the interim solution is essentially a down payment on the permanent commercial solution,” he added.
The City Commission and the DDA also contemplated ideas for potential development of the Lifeline property. Most of the property will be road as it will connect Washington and Parry Streets but there will be some extra space that could be developed.
Powell’s vision for it was to create a plaza that would allow the development next to the site to link in and have front doors onto the park, she said.
Commissioner Dee Merriam shared the vision for the space to be a nice plaza or a potential spot for canopy, shade trees.
Mayor Pro Tem Brian Fisher cautioned against planning too much for the space so the area doesn’t seem like a forced part of the development and fits within the design scheme.
“It really actually has an opportunity to be a powerful kind of extension of the park just because it can kind of bring in that development in a way that without it you couldn’t…” Powell said. “It’s hard without dealing with that development would be so you don’t want to over plan at this point.”
The City Commission and the Urban Redevelopment Agency, which is made up of the commissioners, will meet on Wednesday, April 28, at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom.
The Downtown Development Authority will meet next on Tuesday, May 11, at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom.