POWDER SPRINGS — Mayor Al Thurman has made the redevelopment of the south Cobb city’s sleepy downtown a fixture of his tenure in office.
Among his hopes for the transformation is that construction of a new government center fronting the city square will be finished before his current term expires in two years’ time.
City government leaders met with firms Spratlin & Son and Croft & Associates Wednesday to discuss next steps for turning its old municipal courthouse on Jackson Way into a one-stop municipal headquarters. When finished, the expanded building will be home to both the courthouse and City Council, among other government offices.
Croft and Spratlin were awarded the contract for the center earlier this month, beating out nine other firms for the roughly $3.5 million project. Part of what won the council over, said Councilman Patrick Bordelon, was the firm’s proposal of combining modern touches with the older feel of the courthouse building.
“We appreciated the fact that you came up with a plan that would preserve the building that was already there, (that) kind of preserves the history of Powder Springs. But we also want to show that we’re going to build on it,” Bordelon said.
That point of emphasis was echoed by Councilwoman Nancy Farmer, who noted a key part of the city’s rebranding has been selling its historic downtown character. To be consistent with that philosophy, she doesn’t want a building that will end up “looking like a warehouse.”
The impetus for the expansion of the existing building comes after the city sold the property on which City Hall previously sat earlier this year. The buyer was developer Novare Group, which will build a roughly 220-unit mixed-use development on the site.
Croft’s Earl Smith said his firm will be working to tweak their design to better mesh with Novare’s plans.
“We took some notes based on what the appearance of their facility is going to be, especially since it’s going to be kind of fronting on the other side of the street there — diagonally from us,” Smith said. “I would consider it somewhat of a contemporary look, but still very traditional.”
Added Spratlin’s Jim Gaine, “There are some ways to try to tie these two different structures” — referring to the old municipal courthouse and the new structure — “together and make that blend, with less of a sharp contrast.”
Wednesday’s meeting was intended as more of a conceptual discussion than a brass-tacks design review, but among the other features council members wanted to see were greater flexibility for indoor meeting rooms, and a brighter, more welcoming atrium.
Eager to keep the ball rolling, Thurman asked when the city could expect to get an update on the design. Smith told the council he and Croft would be back with a clearer picture of the project in four weeks or less.