Alpharetta’s “oldest new neighborhood” is thriving!

The News is out…the “oldest new neighborhood” is awakening in downtown Alpharetta!  A coalition of residents and merchants along the Canton Street corridor are engaged in raising awareness of local history and art through their efforts to officially designate the downtown Alpharetta Garden Arts District. The District includes elements of the Arts Walking Tour (including the Alpharetta Arts Center and 4 of the permanent public artworks) as well as the Alpharetta History Walk (like 14 of the historic markers). Mansell House, Resthaven Cemetery, Dodd Hotel, Manning Mercantile, and the FFA Log Cabin are just a few of the notable historical destinations within the Garden Arts District. An exciting mix of unique shops and restaurants plus public amenities like Wills Park and many residential options contribute to the vibrancy of the Garden Arts District.

Where is the Garden Arts District? 2005 City Zoning initially designated the Garden District along Canton Street from Church Street to Vaughn. The District would be defined and expanded to include a south boundary of Old Milton and north to Vaughn with an east boundary of Main Street and west boundary of Wills. The broader boundaries better reflect the community residents and commercial foundations of Alpharetta.

Why the Garden Arts District Coalition? Initiated by RO Hospitality’s Ryan Pernice, Kale Me Crazy’s Phil Wahl, and Sandy Hofmann from Alpharetta Lofts, the downtown Garden Arts District coalition was born in early 2019. The group wanted to raise the profile of the businesses on the Westside and accelerate the focus on local tradition/history with the excitement for artistic growth and Alpharetta’s sense of place. It didn’t take long for others to hear about the coalition and ask to join in this grassroots initiative.  The group’s intent is to seek City Council’s endorsement and support for the Garden Arts District designation (#AlpharettaGardenArt), but participants are already engaged in ad hoc efforts to promote the District where they live or work.  

Who lives in the Garden Arts District? The District is home to a vibrant blend of long-time and newly arrived residents. A number of downtown Alpharetta’s oldest communities, like Stonegate Manor, Surrey Place, and Mayfield Forest retain the gracious character of Alpharetta’s earlier days of tree-lined streets and beautiful residential gardens. More recent single-family home communities like Twelve on Canton and Canton Commons strive to reflect the same.

The increasing desire for downtown living sparked the entrance of townhome communities like Victoria Square, Georgian Terraces and West of Main where City development guidelines ensured that heritage trees and open spaces would complement the city’s look and feel.  Alpharetta Lofts and then Teasley Place introduced the blend of luxury single-level condominium living above retail/restaurants and also contributed a stunning marble fountain set in the center of a compass on Canton Street and, on the corner of Milton Avenue and Canton Street, the 12-foot-tall signature “A” (#MeetMeAtTheA) created by internationally renowned Atlanta artist Greg Mike.

In addition to beautiful neighborhoods, the Garden Art District provides an outstanding selection of restaurants and shops. The soon to be completed boutique hotel will serve as the threshold to the area. The sense of community is amazing – everyone knows your name (and where you like to shop, eat, and drink)! Evolving through shared experiences and proximity, this vibrant and engaged community has diversity and uniqueness developed over decades.

How can I help? Downtown Alpharetta is thriving in every direction these days, but we know that the City Council’s official recognition of the Alpharetta Garden Arts District will help take the area to the next level and solidify the community culture for many years to come. If you would like to help, please sign the online petition here or stop by Kale Me Crazy to sign the paper petition.

The above article was contributed by Sandy Hofmann of the Alpharetta Lofts and a long-time friend of My Alpharetta Living. If you have content you would like to share with My Alpharetta Living, please contact us.

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