The retreat came just days before a major vote on whether to allow WellStar health care a permit to build a hospital in the city limits, but council members spent the majority of the eight-hour retreat discussing other issues.
City elected officials and employees heard the proposed plan for the construction of the downtown area Saturday from Steve Macauley of development firm Macauley-Schmit.
In large part, Macauley said, downtown Holly Springs is to be modeled after the Vinings Jubilee area in Atlanta.
Macauley and company have been working on the plans for some time and, he said, were asked for a “vision for what downtown (Holly Springs) could be.”
As Macauley-Schmit’s proposal stands now, downtown Holly Springs would be much like other downtown areas in north Georgia.
It would include retail space, residential areas and a large “green space,” where festivals and music events could be held. City Hall would also be relocated from its current location on Holly Springs Parkway and a new structure planted in the proposed downtown area.
“The new City Hall becomes the focal point,” he said, of the placement of the municipal building. “We see it sitting on a hill, a beacon.”
City Manager Rob Logan said Tuesday that since its incorporation in 1906, Holly Springs has never really had a downtown area and that former staple industries in the city like cotton and the railroad have left “blighted infrastructure” in the area of the planned downtown, at the intersection of Hickory Road and Palm Street.
During the planning phase of downtown Holly Springs, Macauley’s firm has also explored their options in potential themes for the city.
The two principle themes, as Macauley envisions them, would be lights and the arts. These two themes could draw in tourists.
Macauley also said recycled materials could be used in construction for a more authentic look.
Macauley asked Holly Springs to move on approving or amending the plans for downtown Holly Springs in the next 30 days.
Other items discussed by the city of Holly Springs during the retreat were the present state of their police department, public works and other future developments to the community, including WellStar Kennestone’s proposed plan to construct healthcare facilities at Interstate 575 and Sixes Road.
While WellStar’s plans were discussed, there was no discussion on how the council would vote on the matter, only projections of potential impact of such facilities, should they approve WellStar’s requests.
Two days later, at their meeting Monday, the Holly Springs City Council voted to deny WellStar’s request to obtain a conditional use permit to build a hospital and hospice facility on the site.
Just before the eight-hour-long marathon meeting ended Saturday, the council voted to go into a closed session and city employees and members of the press were asked to leave the room. This was to discuss a potential real estate acquisition, Logan said.
After roughly 10 minutes in the closed session, the council returned to open session and the meeting was adjourned.