Sandy Springs is considering building a new “cultural center” that would house local groups, and possibly the new Holocaust memorial required by the state, at an undetermined location near City Springs. Groups interested in moving in include Visit Sandy Springs, the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust and its local Anne Frank exhibit, according to the city.
The center would expand on the city’s goal to bring more arts and culture to the city, which was called for in its City Springs district plan, City Manager John McDonough said at the City Council’s Nov. 6 meeting. The center would also include a gallery space, which has been previously proposed for the City Springs lobby.
The exact location has not been determined, but is planned to be “within a block or two” of City Springs, McDonough said.
The city would provide the land for the building and would take the lead on identifying and hiring an architect and contractor to design and build it. It would also maintain the exterior of the building and property and provide security.
The organizations using space in the building would be required to pay a portion of the design and construction of the building, as well as part of the cost to run the building.
The state legislature passed earlier this year a measure calling for the Holocaust Commission to design and build a Holocaust memorial somewhere in the state. The cultural center could be the right place for that, Mayor Rusty Paul said. Councilmember Andy Bauman serves on the commission board.
“We think that Sandy Springs is the ideal location for this,” Paul said.
Rep. Deborah Silcox, who represents Sandy Springs and sponsored the House version of the bill, previously said she hoped the memorial could be located in the city, possibly alongside the Anne Frank exhibit.
Sandy Springs has a significant Jewish population, and the police department would be adequate to provide extra security needed, Paul said.
“We think it will be a very positive thing for the community,” Paul said.
The center would also provide a better location for the state’s Anne Frank exhibit, called “Anne Frank in the World,” which is currently in a “woefully inadequate” space in the Parkside Shopping Center at 5920 Roswell Road, Paul said.
“We have one of the few Anne Frank exhibits outside Amsterdam and it is not in a very good space right now,” he said.
The city has supported the exhibit with city funds and wants to see it in a better space, he said.
“It’s a relationship our community has tremendous pride in,” he said.
Paul also pointed to late founding Mayor Eva Galambos’ strong support and ties to the Anne Frank exhibit and Holocaust commission as a reason to build the center and encourage the building of the memorial in the city.
Visit Sandy Springs in 2016 considered moving its offices and welcome center from its suite in the Parkside Shopping Center into a new, standalone building. Moving the Anne Frank exhibit into the new building was also considered.
Sharon Kraun, the city spokesperson, said the city had been discussing a potential cultural center for about two years.
Spruill Center for the Arts, which is considering expanding beyond its facilities in Dunwoody, said it was offered space in an arts or community center by a Sandy Springs official. Kraun said she had no knowledge of space being offered to Spruill.
The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust and Visit Sandy Springs, also known as Sandy Springs Hospitality and Tourism, have both signed agreements to work with the city on the center. The Chamber is reviewing the agreement, the city said.
No specific locations were discussed. The city last year purchased a property at 140 Hilderbrand Drive, partly for a streetscape project and partly to bank land for a possible future redevelopment between City Springs and Heritage Sandy Springs, that is within the range of potential locations.
The city has already selected architecture firm Houser Walker, which designed the Alpharetta Arts Center, the city presentation said. The city expects to hold an open house with the designers in 30 to 45 days.
An initial concept and budget is expected to be presented to the City Council at its January retreat.