The Roswell Downtown Development Authority (DDA) released a second request for proposal (RFP) for the Southern Skillet Site on Oct. 31, 2018, as previously reported. We thought it might be interesting to share what might be going on in the offices of the developers preparing to submit a proposal this week.
The Roswell Downtown Development Authority launched a second Southern Skillet Site Redevelopment Request For Proposal (RFP) on Wednesday, Oct. 31. The new RFP invites potential developers to submit offers and design concepts for consideration of the historic area.
The Roswell DDA, Committed To Only The Best For Roswell
The Roswell Downtown Development Authority (RDDA) voted today to conclude the procurement process to identify and secure a developer for the 4.2-acre Southern Skillet Site. The process was concluded without securing a contract for the redevelopment of the site with the Beecham/Ardent team, which was selected as the team to proceed with in April 2017.
Why Was This Decision Made?
With a focus on what is best for the Roswell community, there were many factors that weighed heavily on the RDDA’s decision to conclude this process without a contract.
The development team, Beecham/Ardent, who have been exhaustive in their planning and design efforts, encountered significant market changes in the previous 16 months while putting this transaction together, putting tremendous economic pressure on an already tight site.
The final concept would have required a conditional use approval for 250 multi-family apartment units, an increase over the current approval of 126-units approved by Mayor and City Council in 2016. The RDDA believes the developer’s proposal and offer do not meet the objectives, desires and best interests of the Roswell community.
While the RDDA is understanding of the market environment and applauds the efforts and determination exhibited by the Beecham/Ardent team, we voted to conclude the procurement process initiated in December 2016 and have made the decision to visit other options.
We Value The Past, Present and Future And Want To Honor Your Expectations
We had hoped to be in a different place today and want to share some of the obstacles we have encountered over the past 16+months. Following an extensive pre-development phase that considered the priorities for the site and Roswell’s future, the priorities of development were defined with engagement from the community. These priorities, such as securing a grocery tenant, seeking to expand the project with adjacent properties and minimizing the inclusion of multi-family residential, were in the forefront of our efforts. However, the effort to achieve them, along with market factors, impacted the pace and success of the project. For example:
● Interest by adjacent land owners engendered a strategic attempt to assemble adjacent parcels with hopes of incorporating and constructing public parking and additional retail as part of the project, was time consuming and ultimately unsuccessful. This effort was undertaken to create a more catalytic project for Roswell, but in the end absorbed enormous effort and time.
● The grocery market, while a highly ranked desired use by the community, is in upheaval following the purchase of Whole Foods by Amazon in June 2017, just two months after the Beecham/Ardent team was selected. This uncertainty in the industry has made it much more difficult to land a grocery tenant.
● Rising construction costs continue to squeeze infill development.
In addition, Family Dollar had an existing lease on the property that extended a couple more years and then offered them a five-year option to stay. Obviously, a termination of this lease had to be negotiated prior to any development agreement. That agreement was not achieved until June 7, 2018, the earliest any contract could have been signed with a developer.
While we all wanted the process and project to move faster, it is important to note that in the world of infill development, this timeline is typical based on the challenges of the site and the market in which it sits.
What Will Happen In Wake Of This Decision?
The Roswell Downtown Development Authority is dedicated to moving forward with this project with a development that meets the needs of our community and residents. We are looking to set a date for a work session with our Mayor and City Council to review the project to date and define a process for identifying a new development team. Our objective remains unchanged: To see this site developed in a manner that respects Roswell’s rich history and the priorities of our citizens but also increases the city’s appeal, functionality, and economy.
While the RDDA wants the redevelopment to be of most benefit to city and community, there are some remaining hurdles to overcome. The Roswell Downtown Development Authority acknowledges that the site necessitates complex engineering but feels confident that these challenges CAN BE overcome.
The Roswell Downtown Development Authority is committed to the successful catalytic re-development of the Southern Skillet Site. We feel the economic benefits and lifestyle enhancements will be a step further in careful, but positive business growth for Roswell’s community. As always, the RDDA is dedicated to protecting the historic charm of our city.
The Roswell Community Is Our Priority
To continue our commitment to being transparent in our efforts to support our vision for the residents of Roswell, we invite you to watch our blog and Facebook page for updates. Now that we are out of the negotiation phase, we can again talk about challenges and next steps.
There are few things that move slower than a complicated, infill, redevelopment, so we wanted to update you on where we are.
The DDA is nearing the end of the RFP process to create an offer to purchase the Roswell Plaza property. After nearly a year of pursuing the termination, Family Dollar finally agreed to terms. That lease termination agreement was executed by City Council on June 6, 2018. It will now allow an offer to be specific as to the timing of a closing.
During the time the Family Dollar lease settlement was being pursued, Beecham/Ardent planned a multitude of options to deliver on the plan submitted in their proposal. Conditions to execute that plan included expanding to properties adjacent to Roswell Plaza to create a larger coordinated master plan. Three other property owners were engaged in many discussions and negotiations. This pursuit was complex given each owner having their own conditions related to price, timing and use. Further, the planning phase explored multiple mixed-use scenarios that included grocery, retail, office, a food hall, townhomes and multi-family. Parking deck designs were explored within the Roswell Plaza boundary as well as on the adjacent property. As the agreement with Family Dollar was being negotiated for lease termination, more than 35 concepts plan were produced by Beecham/Ardent as they evaluated them for financial and market viability.
Beecham/Ardent has informed us that they are prepared to submit their offer to the DDA. We will be sharing this offer with City Council and discussing next steps.
As of December 16, 2016, the DDA received responses to the RFQ (Request for Qualifications) from 10 development teams interested in redeveloping the Southern Skillet. This is a strong response and we are excited to be at this point in the process!
Each of the teams read through the RFQ before submitting their responses. One important part of the RFQ are the "Intent Statements." These statements that define the objectives and parameters for the redevelopment help the development teams decide if they are a match. These statements were derived with input from citizens through an online survey and two Town Hall meetings, meetings with members of City Council and from input from the Historic Preservation Commission.
Source: RFQ Southern Skillet
INTENT STATEMENT FOR REDEVELOPMENT OF THE SOUTHERN SKILLET SITE
The redevelopment of the Southern Skillet site is viewed by the Roswell DDA as a catalytic project for downtown Roswell, which can help set the pattern for the type of development that will occur in the downtown area over the coming decade. Accordingly, we have developed the following intent statement to provide interested development partners with how we would like to see the property redeveloped:
1. Project to be catalytic in design and use, contributing to the village scale of downtown.
2. Designed to successfully be woven into the fabric that is downtown Roswell.
3. Respectful of the city’s historical character, scale and materials.
4. Incorporation of commercial uses is desired for the site.
5. A grocery or food market has been ranked highest as a desired use by community.
- Neighborhood retail, small shops of goods and services would be appropriate.
- Office space over retail would be a desirable use.
6. Residential can be considered as a component of a commercially-focused mixed-use project.
7. Development design should address the pedestrian experience on the street, establishing connection visually and tactilely.
Orientation on Fraser Street
8. The development should create an intimate, pedestrian scale along the Fraser Street frontage.
9. Include a street scape that is scaled for pedestrians, including seating, bike accommodation and active storefronts, not blank walls.
10. Locate active uses abutting the street to slow traffic speeds.
11. Create a neighborhood feel by providing connectivity to nearby housing.
12. Establish a pedestrian friendly street scape on Alpharetta Highway to reinforce a pedestrian scale.
13. Seek to step back building height from the street to enhance the pedestrian experience.
14. Incorporate a parking deck to serve both public and private users that is” wrapped” with leasable space or in some way, masked from public view as much as possible.
15. Consider allowing the parking structure to serve adjacent and nearby activity through pedestrian connectivity.
16. Consider the opportunity to incorporate adjacent parcels