Most cities build around a town square, a common gathering place. Sandy Springs, however, originated as a watering stop for Native Americans who frequented its bubbling springs. It remained largely rural until after World War II, when neighborhoods began to replace farms, and dirt roads were soon paved with asphalt. The area was unincorporated until 2005, when efforts to create the city of Sandy Springs culminated in incorporation.
“Sandy Springs is a wonderful collection of neighborhoods, but we’ve always lacked a central gathering place,” says Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul. “Roswell Road, the main artery through the city, was largely a place that people drove away from, not towards.”
City leaders believed if they could spark change along this corridor, it would ignite redevelopment in the area and set the stage for creating the city’s own town square. Following a year-long planning process in 2012, the city adopted a City Center Master Plan. In January 2013, work began on first phase implementation.
This summer, City Springs will formally open. Like most town squares, the 14-acre mixed-use development will be home to City Hall, retail, dining, residential, and more, but the hallmark of the complex is the project’s focus on arts and entertainment. City Springs features a 1,070-seat performance theatre named Byers Theatre, the 300-seat Studio Theatre, as well as multiple spaces that are well suited for both corporate and entertainment events. A four-acre park called City Green will enable residents to gather for a concert or festival or just to enjoy the urban beauty of the space.
“We took into special consideration how we could use arts and culture to bring people together, to make this place special for the entire community,” says Paul.
Visual arts will also have an influential presence at City Springs. Water is featured throughout the complex, used to buffer noise from the surrounding roadways and to provide a visual connection to the city’s historic relationship with water. Tiles within the children’s fountain and play area are reminiscent of the Chattahoochee River, which has 22 miles of shoreline along the Sandy Springs city limits. In partnership with ArtSandySprings, an annual sculpture contest will create a rotating sculpture gallery surrounding the park.
A town square is the heartbeat of a city. City Springs will serve as a gathering place, create a sense of place for the community and promises to beat strongly for many years to come.