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John Ruch Posted by on August 25, 2017.

Sandy Springs rethinks Mount Vernon roundabouts, starts demo

Vacant buildings on the triangle at Johnson Ferry Road and Mount Vernon Highway in Sandy Springs began coming down Aug. 25, partly for a future city park. But the city is now rethinking its controversial plan for the rest of the triangle: dual roundabouts that would eat into neighboring properties.

Among the buildings coming down is the former Eddie’s Automotive, which was once declared “historic” by the state Historic Preservation Division.

Demolition of buildings underway on the Johnson Ferry Road/Mount Vernon Highway triangle on Aug. 25. The former Eddie’s/Magic Mike’s building is to the right. (John Ruch)

Mayor Rusty Paul and the City Council suggested in informal, internal conversation — without discussion in a regular council meeting — to rethink the intersection plan, according to Kraun. Improving the unusual, X-shaped intersection is a $26 million item on the new transportation special local option sales tax project list.

“There’s going to be some updates to see if there are better ways to do it,” said city spokesperson Sharon Kraun. “It could be roundabouts. It could not be.”

New design alternatives will be presented in a public meeting that could happen “within a matter of weeks,” Kraun said. Meanwhile, the city’s TSPLOST project website page continues to describe the plan – known as Project T-0011 – as roundabouts.

The roundabouts – which had at least three alternative designs – were controversial for possible land-takings and concerns they would make traffic worse. The last significant public discussions about them was the mayor and council’s annual retreat in January, where they asked for refined versions of the roundabouts plan.

Since then, the mayor and council wanted to review more alternatives, Kraun said, partly because of studies about possible mass transit and alternative transportation on the Mount Vernon corridor. Those include a planned multi-use path and possible “multi-modal” lanes on the road.

The performing arts center stands at the City Springs construction site at Roswell and Johnson Ferry roads. (John Ruch)

The side of the triangle fronting on Roswell Road is pegged for a new park intended to pair with the new City Springs civic center going up directly across the street. That park has yet to be designed and has no specific timeline, though it might funded by the main City Springs budget, depending how the spending looks as that project nears completion and a mid-2018 opening.

The city spent about $4.8 million to acquire the triangle, whose main structures were vacant mattress and carpet stores, as well as Magic Mike’s, the successor garage to Eddie’s Automotive. Eddie’s was a local institution founded in 1972 and known for servicing the city’s police car fleet.

Last year, the Eddie’s/Magic Mike’s building at 260 Mount Vernon Highway N.E. was declared “historic” by the state as an example of 1960s “Contemporary architecture” of the car-oriented suburbs. The building featured a rectangular, symmetrical look and a facade decorated with louvre-like wooden slats.

Around noon on Aug. 25, preliminary demolition work had begun on the former Eddie’s Automotive/Magic Mike’s building at 260 Mount Vernon Highway N.E., which the state last year declared “historic.” (John Ruch)

That historic designation stalled the roundabouts plan, because the project was using state and federal funds that required historic review and asset protection. For that reason, the city pulled out of that funding and put the project instead on the TSPLOST project list, which voters approved last fall. By funding the project itself, the city does not have to investigate or preserve historic properties.

The city paid Magic Mike’s more than $73,000 to move to a new location on Roswell Road last year.

At around noon on Aug. 25, a small crew with a single earthmover was demolishing the old carpet store, and some preliminary demo work had been done on the roof of the Eddie’s/Magic Mike’s building.

When the demolition is complete, the triangle’s immediate future will be as a lawn that may or may not be open to the public, Kraun said.

“We’ll green it,” she said, adding that one structure will remain for a while: a giant billboard.

Photos by John Ruch

2 Responses to Sandy Springs rethinks Mount Vernon roundabouts, starts demo

  1. Gerry Widegren

    August 27, 2017 at 11:22 pm

    Looks to me like somebody was fascinated by the roundabout concept and was looking for an application site. Unfortunately, this is a ridiculous application given the tight space, elevation challenges and safety issues. Perhaps reality is setting in and a sane responsible traffic solution will result.

  2. Tim

    September 3, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    Roundabouts or some other concept, something needs to be done. Those intersections are terrible designs.