Students share ideas for village centers’ future

Fri, 10/30/2009 - 2:58pm
By: John Munford

More public space, better golf cart access suggested

Students share ideas for village centers’ future

A group of Georgia Tech architecture students Wednesday revealed their ideas for the potential long-range future for redevelopment of Peachtree City’s village retail centers.

The students were enlisted by the Peachtree City Development Authority for the exercise, but the city has no commitment to go through with any of the plans.

Some of the proposals included adding residences to the mix of some shopping centers through townhomes, “row” homes or single family detached homes.

While mixed use developments might have a rough time politically, the students also proposed more modest changes that could have a significant impact.

Several of the designs called for an increase in “public space” that can be used passively by members of the community and also customers of the center. The Peachtree Crossing shopping center, for example, could add green space right up against Ga. Highway 54 as part of its redevelopment.

Students also suggested the center adopt a block format to replace the current “strip” shopping center look. The blocks could also be flexible to hold a variety of different stores, students noted.

The blocks could also be used to replace the current outparcels along the highway, students suggested.

One foible observed in each of the village centers was a lack of accommodation for golf cart and pedestrian circulation, as carts and pedestrians are forced to mix with cars in a potentially dangerous situation.

The team of students working on the Braelinn Village shopping center noted how carts enter from the rear of the center in a “second class” nature, driving by trash cans as opposed to cars which enter a much nicer access point.

One of the Braelinn team members suggested that the center should be redeveloped so stores front along both greenspace areas so golf carts would enter and see storefronts instead of surface areas.

The students noted that Braelinn and the Kedron centers both have an immense amount of parking. The team working on the Kedron proposals suggested converting some of the parking into “parking orchards” with trees, landscaping and a pervious surface such as gravel to allow rainwater to enter the ground instead of the city’s stormwater system.

The students who studied the Kedron shopping center noted that many of its changes could be implemented now despite the fact that the center is relatively new and very successful. Adding parking orchards would help remove pavement that radiates heat, one student noted.

The team working on Aberdeen Village, the city’s oldest and smallest commercial area at 11 acres, suggested a redesign that would allow the picturesque tree-lined Aberdeen Parkway to lead directly into the site.

Because the shopping center’s architecture is dated, a refreshening of it would create an increased visual presence, students suggested.

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