Cumming Mayor Troy Brumbalow has debuted a new plan that could radically change the city’s downtown area.
Brumbalow sat down with the Forsyth County News this week to discuss a new city center project off Canton Highway that is planned to open within two years and will feature an amphitheater, miniature golf, walking trails, park, veterans memorial, space for businesses and a lake with a fountain.
“The city center is something I campaigned on,” Brumbalow said. “It is something that I think, nationwide, communities are going to … Something like this isn’t possible on our square or even that close, but it being within a half mile of the hub, I think it is close enough.”
Brumbalow said though plans could change a bit depending on the topography of the property and other factors, there is a plan for the aesthetics of the buildings to be unlike any other city center.
“The architecture of what we want is that Main Street, small-town feel,” Brumbalow said. “We want it to look like kind of a city from the 1950s, so to speak. It may look like buildings are repurposed, even though they are brand new, like a fire station that got turned into a restaurant.”
The city center will be located on Canton Highway and will abut Forsyth Central High School on about 60 acres of a 75-acre plot of land. The remaining acreage will be developed by the previous owner for up to 85 townhomes, which will not be owned by the city, and used for walking trails.
“The townhomes would be all brick and would have to be approved by the city so that architecture fits in with our ’50s theme,” Brumbalow said.
Across Canton Highway, about 14 acres will also be donated to the city and will include other walking trails.
Forsyth Central and the city center will share a parking lot located northwest of the school’s football field.
“I think incorporating it into Forsyth Central’s campus, it will give all the kids a great place to go and hang out, and they’ll go and patronize the businesses,” Brumbalow said. “I’m sure a lot of kids will end up working at these restaurants.”
Though the center will largely be green space and businesses, the Cumming Police Department and the city’s municipal court will also move to the development.
“They’re (currently) in a building that was built in the early ’70s. It was the original city hall back then, so it was set up for that purpose,” Brumbalow said.
Brumbalow said even the city buildings will have the classic feel.
“The police department is going to have the old lamp and globe like you would see back in the old days,” he said. “We want to pay homage to our roots and where we’ve come from, but we also think that kind of architecture is unique.”
The development will be centered around the park area, which will lie in a lower elevation than most of the city center, giving businesses a good, and likely rooftop, view of the green space.
“This is not going to be a go in and clear-cut kind of project,” Brumbalow said. “We want to be able to save every single tree that can be saved. There are great specimen trees throughout this entire project that need to be saved.”
Plans show the park will be near the amphitheater, which will likely be used for Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies, concerts, plays and other performances, and will include a new veterans memorial amid issues with the current monument on Veterans Memorial Boulevard.
“I think [the memorial] would get a lot more exposure,” Brumbalow said. “Families going out walking might not have gone there for the veteran’s memorial, but there it is. So, the interaction with it I think will be much greater. You’re out walking with your kids and stop and you can kind of give them a history lesson on a different war.”
The park will also host the city’s Avenue of Flags, which is displayed during Memorial Day and other patriotic holidays and honor the names of 300 local veterans. Public safety personnel will also be honored in the memorial.
No businesses have been announced for the commercial portions of the property, but Brumbalow said the city would make announcements as they rolled in. He said he is hoping for more mom and pop stores than chains.
“We’ll lease the space out, and it will be a great revenue generator for the city,” Brumbalow said.
A second phase of the project will bring more retail and office space, and a third phase has been discussed but not approved. Part of the property lies in Forsyth County and will need to be annexed into the city.
Entrances to the city center will be on Canton Highway and Sawnee Drive.
The city is under contract for the land and expects to close on it by the beginning of 2019. Master planning the site will take about six months, and the project can be bid after that.
Brumbalow said nothing in the development has been named, but he has an idea for the park.
“We’ve not come up with a name for the city center yet,” he said. “One thing I’d like to do with the park is call it Veterans Memorial Park. That’s not set in stone, but that’s something I’d definitely like to see.”