Fly loft or no fly loft? Medium or large stage? Concert or theater seating?

These are some of the options Sandy Springs city leaders must weigh if they move forward with plans to include a performing arts facility as part of the future city center.

Sandy Springs city center master developers and planners presented options for a facility at a special called Sandy Springs City Council meeting on July 23.

George Bushey, with Rosser International, the city center architect, presented three performing arts center theater options with differing seat counts.

“When you talk about a performing arts center, it can mean a lot of things to a lot of people,” he said. “It can be an entertainment venue that has music shows, comedy, rock ‘n’ roll acts. It can be a playhouse that houses regional and local theater. It can be a full Broadway and concert venue. The difference is the stage and fly loft, how you hold the event . . . the seating capacity . . . and how you configure the seats.”

The presentation included buildings with small, medium and large stages, each seating 600, 800 or 1,000.

The planners were presenting the options based on a feasibility study by Johnson Consulting that recommended a 750-seat to 1,000-seat facility that also included meeting space.

John Jokerst, with Carter/Selig, the city center master developer, gave a rundown of building costs associated with different stage sizes and options, which range from $24 million to $42.6 million.

Performing arts centers are expensive because of structural features, heating and air conditioning necessities, acoustics, lighting and decorative finishes, he said.

The final cost, including the addition of meeting space, offices, parking and road improvements, is estimated to be $169.3 million to $196.6 million.

City Manager John McDonough discussed ways the city might pay for the project. He said the city could use a combination of options, including fundraising, using money set aside, land sales to developers, using money already earmarked for the city center, using money the city currently uses to lease City Hall, and bonds.

At an open house the next evening, longtime Sandy Springs residents Carol and Andy Heyward, who served on the Committee for Sandy Springs, a group instrumental in incorporating the city, said they supported building a performing arts center in the city.

Carol Heyward said they have season tickets to the Lyric Theatre in Marietta, where they usually dine before shows. “I’d much rather go to a show and eat at a restaurant here,” she said, adding she’s about a mile from the future city center site.

Fran Farias, a Rotary Club of Sandy Springs officer, said she is “pro” performing arts center. “I think having an event-type facility in the city of Sandy Springs is critical,” she said.

To view the arts center presentation, visit

See also: Letters to the editor: Former Sandy Springs mayor has questions about Performing Arts Center proposals

2 replies on “Sandy Springs looks at options for performing arts center”

  1. Great, well balanced article (sarcasim) – how about a article that details the success (or lack there of) of neighboring performance art centers and how they are not financially self-sufficient, although, albeit, visually satisfying? So the question you should open with is “Are Sandy Springs taxpayers open to being on the hook for a $200 million bill for an unproven and potentially under utilized facility or should it seek private funding and turn the area into a downtown hub of shopping, parks and resturants, that from looking to Roswell, Norcross and Decatur, seems to have caught on”

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