Ga. Tech architectural students take on PTC as project

Tue, 09/22/2009 - 3:45pm
By: John Munford

A crack team of Georgia Tech architecture students will tackle the creation of future plans for four of Peachtree City’s village shopping centers.

For the next five weeks the graduate students led by architecture professor Richard Dagenhart will be studying the centers and preparing plans for how the centers could be retrofitted to insure they continue to serve their purpose.

After that process is concluded, one of the village centers will be selected for a more detailed retrofitting plan.

At a meeting in Peachtree City Monday, the students asked questions and got feedback directly from city residents. Much of the residents’ message was to make sure to include the city’s network of golf cart paths. The city estimates roughly a million trips are made each year by golf cart, saving short car trips in most cases.

Because the cart path system is so unique, several residents said the best way to learn about it was to hop on a cart and experience it themselves.

And though it’s easy to get lost on the paths, don’t worry, said resident Tom McBrayer.

“If you stop and look at a map, if two people pass you, one of those two will stop and ask, “Are you lost, can I help you?’” McBrayer said. “It promotes a community.”

Other residents wanted to make sure the students maintained a priority on greenspace

“You don’t see signs and seas of cars in parking lots and we’d like to keep that visibility as we have striven it to be,” said resident Phyllis Aguayo.

Students asked about the city’s demographics, and while the city is an excellent place to retire, resident Frances Meaders noted there are still plenty of young families that call Peachtree City home as well.

Merrilyn Arnold of the Wynnmeade homeowners association noted that there is also a segment of working class citizens in Peachtree City who may find it expensive to live here but still they love to consider it home.

Former Mayor Steve Brown noted that there is a small group of citizens who only use golf carts for transportation, and because everyone in the city has one, they are not stigmatized.

Several comments involved the large parking lots many of the centers have.

Georgia Tech professor Jim Strickland, who also lives in Peachtree City, said the students should look at cutting parking spaces in favor of other offerings. City Manager Bernie McMullen said the city needed to turn the parking lots “into an experience” with an identity to brand each shopping center to maintain its vitality.

The students were also treated to a brief presentation from several speakers, including Joel Cowan, the city’s first mayor who also was in charge of developing the town from its infancy.

Cowan said his main problem at the beginning was how to get people to come to Peachtree City, “not how you build buildings.”

“You had to be flexible because it was so hard to get anybody to come down here,” Cowan said.

Cowan said the city was fortunate that it never developed a downtown area from the outset because its location, likely adjacent to Lake Peachtree where the first bank and doctor’s office were, would have led to pollution issues.

Cowan challenged the students to consider promoting ways to make the city more environmentally friendly, or “green.” He referenced new street lights that are powered solely by solar power with no need for electrical wire underground. The use of new LED traffic lights recently installed is already having an impact, he noted.

Cowan noted that the city’s initial build-out population was around 60,000 people before later changing to 84,000. But over the years residents didn’t support high density proposals so they were ultimately scrapped, Cowan said.

Cowan noted such high density subdivisions were not proposed “on my watch.”

Referring to the unbuilt “downtown” area, Cowan said had high density residential come to pass, it would have been obsolete by now.

Commercial Realtor Brad Jubin of Coldwell Banker also spoke to the students. He noted that a financial analysis of disposable spending shows that Peachtree City residents still have to go outside the city for a number of services or goods, and thus national companies such as the AutoZone auto parts store are willing to come to the city even on the far south end of Ga. Highway 74.

Jubin said that the city would be well served to have more room in its villages for small to medium size corporate headquarters. The city’s development authority is working to recruit medical, technology and education companies to locate here.

Under the city’s village concept, each village shopping center was conceived to handle most of the basic commercial needs for households in the village. But with the advent of the mega commercial stores on Ga. Highway 54 West, many city residents are flocking to the likes of The Avenue and Wal-Mart for their spending dollars, which has been to the detriment of the village shopping centers.

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Submitted by PTCGOIL on Tue, 09/22/2009 - 10:30pm.

Who put this meeting on and where was it publicized?

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Tue, 09/22/2009 - 10:57pm.

It was held in the Council Chambers by DAPC. Wasn't a meeting but a presentation by invitation, not a public meeting, to give them a cross section of contacts and input of HOA's, Rotary, former Mayors for history, city agencies, etc.

We did something similar last year for the first group.

Time was limited and the schedule was preset. It was for the students' benefit and their goals are specialized.

It went well.

If you would like more details please come to the next DAPC meeting on October 5th in the Council Chambers.

Don Haddix
Candidate for Mayor

Submitted by robinmathews on Mon, 09/28/2009 - 2:09pm.

Which four shopping centers are the students looking at ?

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Mon, 09/28/2009 - 2:55pm.

For a broad spectrum look it will be Kedron, Wilksmoor, Braelinn and Peachtree crossings. But they recognize Kedron and Wilksmoor are regional, not Village Shopping Centers.

Main focus is restoring the Village Concept so Braelinn and Peachtree Crossing are the main ones for restoration since they are Village Concept.

They will split, at least initially, into 4 teams.

Don Haddix
Candidate for Mayor

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