ROSWELL, Ga. — After about five years, progress is being made to get historic downtown Roswell its first boutique hotel.
The City Council approved site plan changes Aug. 23 to allow the private developer, West Alley LLC, to move forward with the project. It was the third time since 2017 the City Council voted in support of a boutique hotel at 37 Magnolia St., where there is currently a shuttered Wells Fargo branch.
Councilman Marcelo Zapata said it gave him a sense of déjà vu.
“Four years passed by, and I think at least three hotels have been built in two or three miles," Zapata said. "I know Windward has one brand new on the east side, we have two in Mansell, and here we are again in 2021 talking about the boutique hotel.”
In May, the Roswell Downtown Development Authority chose West Alley to take over the project after an agreement with Canton Place Development broke down last year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The mixed-use building will include a 125-room hotel, restaurant, office, retail and event space. It will also have 397 parking spaces and stretch down 895 Mimosa Blvd. and 26 Webb St. A hotel brand has not been disclosed.
West Alley consultants and contractors are locally owned and operated. Attorney Kurt Hilbert, who spoke on behalf of West Alley during the meeting, said they are looking at beginning construction in 2022 or 2023. Overall, he said, the project will be a $90 million investment for Roswell.
“Many times, projects that are presented to mayor and council here in this chamber include outside folks who do not truly know Roswell, its rich history, its culture or its challenges,” Hilbert said. “We are hopeful that what is being presented this evening bridges all of those areas with a well-thought-out, mixed-use design that contemplates and emphasizes the positive aspects of Roswell’s past and present as well as its future.”
Under the approved site plan changes, West Alley agreed to several conditions from the city, including designating 100 of its parking spaces for free public parking. It will also provide a minimum of 8-foot sidewalk along Webb Street and Mimosa Boulevard and a minimum of 10-foot sidewalk along Magnolia Street to go along with the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.
Webb Street currently has no sidewalks. The city also eliminated a previous condition for West Alley to construct a deceleration lane on the southbound through/right turn lane on Magnolia Street.
But before the City Council voted, Zapata asked Hilbert about the guarantees West Alley could give residents on its financial strength as well as construction and operational expertise so they would not be back in four years “listening to the same story.”
“I’ve been doing this for a long time as a lawyer, and this particular team has expertise that I have not seen with this project in the past — there were gaps, there were flaws, there were all kinds of problems in the past,” Hilbert said. “We can represent that this is a comprehensive solution, and if there’s close to a guarantee that a lawyer could ever give, this would be it.”
Councilman Matt Judy thanked the team at West Alley for “taking a dead project and bringing it back to life.”
“[I want to thank you] not only for bringing it back to life but also meeting with citizens and businesses … and actually taking their concerns to heart and trying to have conversations to work with them on their concerns,” Judy said. “I’m excited for Roswell. … Let’s get this done. Let’s get Roswell a boutique hotel downtown. I think it’s going to be awesome for everybody.”