The city of Sandy Springs has taken another step forward in its plan to build a cultural center to house the “Anne Frank and the World: 1929-1945” exhibit and other facilities.
At its Sept. 16 meeting, which was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sandy Springs City Council voted 6-0 to approve a resolution to allow for the construction and development of the center on the City Springs property. The facility will be located on about half an acre at the corner of Roswell Road and Mount Vernon Highway.
The council’s vote came after it met in executive session, where municipal governments are allowed to meet in private about real estate, legal and/or personnel matters.
In July 2019, the Sandy Springs Public Facilities Authority, which is the council acting on behalf of the city’s venues, voted 5-1 to approve a resolution supporting the center plan, in partnership with the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust, Visit Sandy Springs (the city’s tourism arm) and the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber.
“I’m involved in a lot of organizations around the city, and I’ve never been involved in a project (with impact) as much as this one has,” Chuck Berk, a director with commission, said at that meeting. “The positive remarks we got, there wasn’t one person who was against what we were doing once they learned what we were doing. … We got support from clergy all around the state.”
Since 2010, as long as Sandy Springs has had the Anne Frank exhibit dedicated to the life of one of the Jewish heroes of World War II, it has been housed in the Parkside Shops shopping center. The commission’s office also has been located there since 2009, and at one time Visit Sandy Springs’ office was also there before it moved to an office building nearby.
The proposed new center was to house the exhibit plus the offices for Visit Sandy Springs, the chamber and the commission (which also includes its Friends group, a volunteer fundraising arm). But in the past year, partly due to the pandemic, Visit Sandy Springs and the chamber have decided to locate their offices elsewhere, and the project has been scaled down some, city spokeswoman Sharon Kraun.
The center’s preliminary estimated cost is $8.6 million, with $7.9 million for construction and $688,355 for soft costs (program management plus architecture and engineering). At the July 2019 meeting, Kraun said about a third of the center’s funding will come from the commission.
In October 2018 the council voted to enter into a memorandum of understanding with Houser Walker Architecture, a Buckhead-based firm, to draw up preliminary design plans for the center.