Sugar Hill's streetscape construction to begin

SUGAR HILL — Sugar Hill’s Downtown Development Authority was formed nine years ago. Its biggest stride, however, could come this month.

City Manager Bob Hail announced at Monday’s City Council meeting that Reeves Construction, upon finalizing its contract with the city in the coming days, could within weeks turn the first shovel of dirt for the long-awaited streetscape along a half mile of West Broad Street between Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and Ga. Highway 20.

“I’ll have a photo op within a week,” Hail said, joking that he could pull earth moving equipment from a half mile away, where E.E. Robinson Park is being expanded on Level Creek Road. “Really,” he added, “30 days is pessimistic.”

Though Hail also announced plans this month to advertise for bids from a construction manager for the new $8.5 million City Hall more immediate digging for the retention/detention pond across West Broad from the city’s existing city hall is the more landmark moment.

“Now that we’re going to turn dirt, people will say, ‘Hey, this isn’t just a dream, it’s reality,’” he said.

The downtown district’s regional retention-detention pond is the required structure to handle stormwater runoff and is the lynchpin to the entire downtown, Hail said.

The 80,000-square-foot, roughly oval-shaped structure will sit in a natural depression between Broad and Ga. Highway 20.

At $1.3 million, it will will neighbor the planned town green and parking deck adjoining the three-story, 30,000-square-foot hall on the northeast corner of West Broad and Temple Drive.

Encircled by wide sidewalks and shrubs, the pond will have both retention and detention sides. The retention side will be an ever-full pond with fountains and potentially colored lights. The detention side, doubling as a stone terraced amphitheater, will handle overflow of torrential rains like those last September.

All said, Sugar Hill plans to spend roughly $14 million on the streetscape, pond and city hall, laying a foundation it hopes will entice developers to come build shops, restaurants and even residences. Budgeted entirely from general funds and SPLOST, without incurring debt, Hail said it’s an opportune time to begin.

“We’re taking advantage of the economy and companies’ prices being lower than they were, say, three or four years ago,” he said. “We’re going to optimize the savings we began putting away seven years ago.”