Sandy Springs approved spending $582,700 for designing a new cultural center building that is expected to house the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust (GCH), a police precinct, and Visit Sandy Springs offices.

In session on Sept. 6  as the Public Facilities Authority, members of the Sandy Springs City Council directed Houser Walker Architecture to complete the project design for the building, which will replace the Bluestone building at 6110 Blue Stone Road.

The project has met with opposition from some residents and support from others, including members of the GCH who live in Sandy Springs.

After the contract and insurance are worked out, city staff will move right into programming the building, according to Dave Wells, director of Facilities/Capital Construction and Building Operations. He said the city council would insure the building integrated with the City Springs Master Plan. 

The cultural center is planned to replace the existing Bluestone building on its Heritage property near City Hall.

“After the design is all decided and everything then there’ll be a guaranteed maximum price of the cost,” Wells said. “But we’ll start knowing the cost as soon as we nail down exactly what needs to be in the building when we get our first conceptual schematic.”

The council approved negotiations with GCH on Nov. 2 for the state agency to lease space for its office, a new Anne Frank in the World exhibit and other exhibits. On Aug. 16, the council approved the lease terms. The GCH will pay a monthly lease for at least 20 years to pay for its share of the building design and construction.

Either the city or the GCH can back out of their agreement even after the design is completed.

The city has $2.4 million available in its Capital Projects Fund for the development of a facility to house the GCH Project and other city components, according to Wells’ report. It has spent $214,000 to perform feasibility studies and due diligence for two PFA-owned parcels.

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.