LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN, Ga. -- The City Council is going to throw the door open to developers to present ideas for a new town center.
And if none of those ideas are to the council's liking, the city probably would go it alone and create a new fire station, town hall and police station to replace the aging, cement-block City Hall on 1.67 acres it owns at 1214 Lula Lake Road.
Those were some highlights of a Thursday night meeting at which council members started writing a request for proposals from developers for a new town center.
"We need to have a paragraph that defines what we want and we need to stick with that," said Mayor Bill Glascock. "Do we want a cottage-style Rock City look? Are we insisting on that?"
"If we get away from the Rock City style, I quit," Councilman Alexander "Sandy" Gothard said.
The council initially had architect Michael McGowan draw up a plan that called for knocking down City Hall and repurposing the public works building into a 3,600-square-foot fire station. Next to it would stand a new, 2,500-square-foot town hall and a 2,500-square-foot police station.
An architect's conceptual drawing shows two L-shaped buildings on Lula Lake Road that could house commercial and office space, such as a grocery store, outdoor café and doctor's office in Lookout Mountain, Ga. An amphitheater would be built into the hillside in front of a large city building at the back of the parcel where the 10-unit Mountain Crest apartment complex now stands.
The city proposed to fund McGowan's buildings, which took design clues from Rock City, by raising residents' property taxes by 17 percent for 20 years. That translates to $174 annually for a $300,000 home.
Developer David DeVaney proposed piggy-backing onto the plan by building a new office for Dr. Bill Moore Smith's family practice on what's now the City Hall's front lawn.
Recently, a larger plan entered the picture. Developer Jimmy Chapin would like to buy the city's 1.67 acres and combine it with 1.3 adjacent acres owned by the Voges family.
Chapin proposes building a hillside amphitheater, a 15,000-square-foot municipal building that he wants to lease to the city for $5,252 a month, and two L-shaped commercial buildings on Lula Lake Road with room for the Mountain Market grocery and the doctor's office.
Council will continue drafting a request for proposals at its May 17 meeting. Under an ideal timeline, "in August, we ought to be able to make a decision," Glascock said.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.