Bankhead Highway Corridor Planning

///Bankhead Highway Corridor Planning
Bankhead Highway Corridor Planning 2018-02-02T02:39:48+00:00

Project Area

The general boundaries for the area of focus on the Bankhead Highway Corridor begin at the Cedar Street intersection to the west and end at the intersection with Highway 166 (Carrollton Bypass). The project area is zoned exclusively C-2 (General Commercial) and includes several large, defunct shopping centers and smaller commercial lots. Many dilapidated and abandoned signs dot the landscape of the corridor. Most of the area does not have sidewalk or bike lanes. The Carrollton GreenBelt crosses the corridor at Lake Carroll on the western side of the corridor.

SWOT ANALYSIS

Identify areas of weakness in the corridor and develop a vision for the neighborhood and pedestrian oriented redevelopment.

TRAFFIC STUDY

Analyze traffic patterns. Complete a traffic study. Consider options like lane reduction, bike lanes and sidewalks.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Recommend incentives to entice redevelopment and improved beautification of existing properties, including signage and landscaping.

SIGNS

Create proposed signage standards that encourage creative and unique designs while preventing cluttered and unattractive streetscapes.

DESIGNS STANDARDS

Draft proposed site design and architectural standards that encourage the growth of both residential and commercial neighborhood development.

TASK 1 – SWOT ANALYSIS

Task 1 was a “group think” effort by the CCDBC at identifying the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) that currently exist along the Bankhead Highway Corridor. Factors that were discussed include:

• Vacant buildings/businesses
• Cluttered, dilapidated, and abandoned signage
• Transition from car-oriented design to neighborhood commercial design
• Changing traffic patterns and the desire for commercial businesses to located on Highway 27 instead of Bankhead Highway
• Lack of adequate sidewalk
• Lack of pedestrian oriented building design
• Lack of bike lanes
• Location of commercial corridor to the surrounding neighborhoods and lack of connection between the two
• The need for more residential development to support new and existing commercial development
• Cluttered overhead utilities
• “Mall” concept is dated
• Utilization of Lake Carroll and the Carrollton GreenBelt as an asset
• The creation of a village to bring life back into the corridor

TASK 2 – TRAFFIC STUDY

A traffic study was conducted on the corridor by a traffic engineering firm in the spring of 2017. In addition to this study, the committee engaged a local engineering firm to survey the portions of the corridor that include Phase 1 of the proposed streetscape improvements. These studies confirmed the ability for a lane reduction to accommodate the installation of bike lanes and sidewalks.

TASK 3 – ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The committee recommends two options to foster and promote economic development in the corridor:

1. Beautification Grants: This grant fund can be established by the City of Carrollton as a local tool to foster beautification of existing businesses along the corridor.
• City will establish a grant fund capped at $50,000 per year for three years.
• Grant will be a re-imbursement grant up to 75-percent of project cost with no more than $10,000 distributed to a single property owner.
• Grant can be used towards signage, landscaping or exterior building rehabilitation.
• All sign permit fees will be waived for participants who replace signage using this funding.

2. Tax Incentive Program: The success of a tax freeze program will be greater with a partnership with Carroll County. Unlike an abatement program, this would freeze property values at a specific rate for a defined period once a property is redeveloped. However, it would not reduce existing tax revenue for the corridor. Committee members have approached Carroll County leadership to begin discussions of a freeze program. At this time, the committee is researching how the city may implement this tax incentive for redevelopment. Once a suitable structure is developed, the committee recommends formalizing the partnership with Carroll County. Proposed elements of the program may include:

• Eligibility limited to redevelopment where at least 75-percent of present day assessed value of the property will be expended.
• Property tax freeze for 8 years (similar timeframe to Historic Tax Credits).
• Both new construction and redevelopment of existing structures are eligible.
• Site design standards must adhere to the overlay design standards.
• Both commercial and mixed use projects are eligible.

TASK 4 – SIGNS

Signage is vital to the Bankhead Highway corridor. While functioning primarily as a communication tool, signs can also contribute to the unique character of an area. The Bankhead Highway corridor has a diverse mix of pole, monument, wall, temporary, and dilapidated signage. The intent of the sign design standards in the Bankhead Highway Corridor is:

• To encourage excellence in signage, both as a communication tool and as an art form.
• To allow and encourage creative and unique sign designs while preventing cluttered and unattractive streetscapes.
• To provide basic parameters for creative signs that may be varied and unique like the businesses they represent.

Effectively designed signage should respond to the site, landscape, and architectural design context within which they are located. Signs should be compatible in scale, proportion, and design with the building’s façade and its surroundings. These standards do not dictate design. Photographs of sign examples are used to illustrate design concepts, but should not be viewed as an exclusive list of acceptable signs.
The sign standards for the Bankhead Highway Overlay District address the following:

• Appropriate locations
• Number of signs allowed on a property
• Maximum area for individual signs
• Height limitation
• Color and materials
• Lighting
• Temporary signage (both on-site and off-site)
• Off-site signs
• Dilapidated or abandoned signage

TASK 5 – DESIGN STANDARDS

Site design standards and architectural standards are critical for the redevelopment of the Bankhead Highway Corridor. The existing corridor is designed completely around automobile usage. Over the years, traffic counts along this corridor have dropped, making it less desirable for auto-oriented businesses to locate along Bankhead Highway. Commercial neighborhood oriented design, where both the pedestrian and cyclist users are critical, requires a different design structure to be successful.

Emphasis is given to the architectural elements of the buildings by placing parking lots to the side or rear of buildings. Sidewalks with direct connections to the buildings and trees lining the street create a space that invites the pedestrian. Bike lanes provide another transportation opportunity for the neighborhood. Providing a mixture of housing opportunities along the corridor creates the population to sustain new commercial development. These elements combined will contribute to the creation of a neighborhood village, rather than a commercial shopping center, automobile-focused corridor.

Fequently Asked Questions

WHY CONSIDER REDUCING BANKHEAD HIGHWAY FROM FIVE LANES TO THREE LANES? 2018-02-01T19:17:21+00:00
Reducing Bankhead Highway to three lanes creates an opportunity to provide sidewalks with a landscaped separation from the roadway along both sides of the street and bicycle lanes next to the roadway. This “road diet” also creates more of a local commercial village-feeling along the corridor as opposed to a state highway, thereby extending the vibrancy and vitality that currently exists in Downtown Carrollton. The narrowing of the roadway also has a calming effect on motor vehicle speeds. The vision for this corridor is to create a space that becomes a destination where Bankhead Highway is used less as a throughway.
HOW WILL POTENTIALLY REDUCING THE NUMBER OF LANES TO THREE AFFECT TRAFFIC LEVEL OF SERVICE? 2018-02-01T19:17:30+00:00
Even with the addition of sidewalks and bike lanes, we do want to maintain an adequate level of service for vehicle motorists. Prior to considering any lane reductions, we commissioned a traffic study to determine if the potential improvements would create a failing level of service. The study indicated it would not. The traffic study considered 10-year and 20-year growth volumes for vehicles. This growth data is based off of published Georgia Department of Transportation growth projections. Additionally, delivery vehicles like 18-wheelers still need to use the corridor to make deliveries to the businesses on Bankhead Highway. Any road improvement will accommodate these delivery vehicles.
WHAT WILL THE CITY DO TO ENCOURAGE BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN THE AREA? 2018-02-01T18:35:10+00:00

Bankhead Highway was originally developed as a highway commercial corridor and has slowly declined due to highway-oriented commercial spaces locating on Highway 27, where vehicle traffic counts are higher. The goal of the overlay district and streetscape improvements is to create a space that becomes desirable for both businesses and residents again. The overlay will include grants for businesses to improve their exteriors and their signs. We are also working with the county to explore a tax freeze incentive.

WILL THE PROPOSED TRAFFIC IMPROVEMENTS IMPACT CEDAR STREET? 2018-02-01T18:43:54+00:00
Currently, Bankhead Highway has a lane that turns into a forced turn lane onto Cedar Street. The proposed improvements would remove this forced turn lane which may create fewer turns onto Cedar Street. Also, cars that do turn onto Cedar will do it at a slower travel speed since there will no longer be a dedicated turn lane that allows turns at faster speeds.
WHAT WILL OCCUR ALONG THE REMAINING SECTIONS OF BANKHEAD HIGHWAY THAT ARE NOT INCLUDED IN THE CURRENT CONCEPT PLAN? 2018-02-01T19:18:11+00:00
The current concept plan is the first phase of streetscape improvements. We will continue to work on the next phase. Our first task on the next phase will be a traffic study to ensure that whatever we propose will accommodate future growth and all users, including cars, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
HOW WILL THE CITY PROMOTE SAFETY OF CYCLISTS AND PEDESTRIANS IN THE CORRIDOR? 2018-02-01T19:28:18+00:00
The proposed plan introduces separated sidewalks along both sides of the street where they do not currently exist. These sidewalks have a landscaped buffer to provide more protection for pedestrians from the roadway. Bicycle lanes will also be installed along both sides of the street. This area is a dedicated space for bicyclists that does not currently exist.

Carrollton Corridor Development and Beautification Committee

In September 2016, the Mayor and City Council created the Carrollton Corridor Development and Beautification Committee (CCDBC). The purpose of this committee is to create a plan to encourage and promote development and beautification of the major corridors leading into the City of Carrollton, including making recommendations for streetscape improvements, pedestrian scale building and site design standards, and economic development incentives. The following community members were appointed to serve as founding members of the CCDBC:
Mike Patterson, Committee Chairperson, a commercial and industrial real estate broker serving the community for 17 years.
Met Lane, Ward 4 City Councilmember, Attorney and Partner at Shadrix Lance, P.C. and co-sponsor of the resolution creating the CCDBC.
Rory Wojcik, Ward 2 City Councilmember, Assistant Director of Event Production at the University of West Georgia and cosponsor of the resolution creating the CCDBC.
David Godwin, City School Board Member and Senior Vice President of BankSouth Mortgage.
Michelle Morgan, Carroll County Commissioner representing the Bankhead Highway Corridor, works with Morgan Oil Company, a family owned business that operates in three commercial corridors, including the Bankhead Highway study area.
Sandra Houston, City of Carrollton Planning Commissioner, Associate Broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties and a member of the Board of Assessors for CarrollCounty.
John Sammon, Broker/Owner of Georgia West Realty and managing partner of Lake Carroll Mall, both located on Bankhead Highway.
Andy Camp, Vice President of Business Development for NextSite, a retail and commercial development consulting firm that assists communities with economic development; former Vice President of Economic Development at Carroll Tomorrow.
Chuck Conerly, City Attorney, Attorney and Partner at Smith Conerly, LLP.
Christina Davis, Senior Project Manager at Columbia Residential, a regional mixed use and multifamily development company. She has more than 11 years of experience in the development and construction industry.
Erica Studdard, City of Carrollton, Community Development Director for the City of Carrollton and the former Executive Director of Friends of Carrollton GreenBelt.
Luke Wojcik, a civil engineer with Georgia and West, Inc., over five years of experience

Printable Executive Summary and Frequently Asked Questions: