As a formerly sleepy railroad town that’s morphed into Cherokee County’s fastest-growing city, Woodstock’s population has swelled by 70 percent in the past decade alone, while its reputation as a regional tourist destination has gained less measurable traction.
Named by Money magazine as one of the top places to live in the U.S., Woodstock’s downtown core has packed on a 32-acre master-planned district, miles of multi-use trails and parks, and an arts district. Nearly every downtown home on the market today is under contract—whether it’s built or not.
To help accommodate the growth, the Woodstock City Council last month took a key step toward starting another round of development that’s expected to densify downtown, while adding the boutique hotel and parking structure city leaders have long sought.
The council approved a letter of intent with Woodstock City Partners—an affiliate of Morris & Fellows, led by developer Cheri Morris—that outlines expectations for creating a new Woodstock City Center project.
The 109 Main Street site in question was formerly home to Morgan’s Ace Hardware, a beloved old-timey retailer that relocated to another Main Street location to allow room for the downtown expansion.
Woodstock City Partners is purchasing the site for $1.5 million. Morris is planning to replace it with an $80-million private development that includes a boutique hotel with meeting space, an office component, and more retail and restaurant slots for Main Street, according to Woodstock officials.
The city, meanwhile, has agreed to use mostly SPLOST dollars to fund infrastructure improvements. Those include a 650-space public parking deck, an event and meeting facility, and upgrades to the area’s network of roads and pedestrian corridors.
Morris & Fellows developed Woodstock’s Main Street district in 2004—and more recently was selected by Alpharetta to plan and build a vibrant new dimension to that city’s core arranged around a greenspace. In Woodstock, at a site across the street from the former Ace Hardware, city leaders also selected Morris & Fellows to develop city-owned land in 2015 along Towne Lake Parkway and Arnold Mill Road.
Woodstock Mayor Michael Caldwell says the 109 Main Street redevelopment will help solve both traffic and parking issues downtown, while “also incentivizing brand new private investment both at this site and throughout the city,” per a recent announcement.
"Well beyond the borders of our property, the whole downtown is now thriving with shopping, dining, theater, music, art, parks and trails, and wonderful walkable neighborhoods,” added Morris in her own prepared statement. “That’s always our goal and our hope when we develop in central city districts. Woodstock City Center is the natural progression.”
Morris tells Urbanize Atlanta all renderings and approved plans are being prepared for upcoming public information meetings and won’t be available for sharing until late spring.
City officials expect Woodstock City Center construction to start after rounds of public info sessions this spring. The project is tentatively scheduled to open in mid-2024.
• In Woodstock's growing downtown, historic Reeves home reborn as arts center (Urbanize Atlanta)