Transformation of ‘a small town lost in time’
How Woodstock Downtown became the dynamic center of a sprawling Atlanta suburb
Subscriber? Log in for full article. Not a subscriber yet? Subscribe to read all articles (print + online delivery) about how to implement better cities and towns. Or, get the October-November 2012 issue (instant pdf download).
Metropolitan Atlanta’s outward development slowed to a crawl in the years after the homebuilding bust of 2007-2008 and the ensuing national financial crisis. “The fall-off in homebuilding happened so suddenly and so deeply that everything stopped,” says Cheri Morris, principal in the development firm Morris & Fellows.
So severe was the collapse that the inventory of housing for sale plummeted 83 percent between 2006 and early this year, according to Metrostudy, a housing information source.
Now recovery is tentatively stirring. And one area that inspires hope is Woodstock Downtown—a 32-acre development in the center of Woodstock, about 30 miles north of Atlanta.
“It is just cranking,” Morris says of the restaurant and retail precinct Woodstock Downtown. The restaurants—six of them, in five buildings that her company renovated or developed from scratch—are busy, often well into the evenings.
The liveliness they’ve infused into a once somnolent town center has prompted another developer, Walton Communities, to begin creating a mixed-use project on the other side of the railroad tracks that run through Woodstock’s center. Historically a narrow ribbon, the center is filling out. The street grid is broadening, says Richard McLeod, community development director of the 8.8-square-mile municipality.
Creating a development with character