You might say Sandy Springs is celebrating its bar mitzvah this year. It’s been 13 years since it officially became a city. With its prime location, excellent schools and growing cultural scene, Sandy Springs continues to evolve as an attractive community for families and people of all ages.
Noted as the sixth largest city in Georgia, Sandy Springs’ growing population now exceeds 105,000 residents, according to Mayor Rusty Paul, who says that the city has “the greatest neighborhoods on the planet.”
Its 38 square miles encompass areas that extend from inside the I-285 perimeter and northward to Roswell.
From the west it extends toward I-75 and the new SunTrust Park to an eastern “peninsula” surrounded by Dunwoody neighborhoods. This large geographic area includes a diverse population, business and health centers as well as 30 parks and natural resources such as the Chattahoochee River.
“Sandy Springs is a very beautiful part of the Atlanta area. It’s older, so it’s more developed, and the landscape is more mature,” said Eydie Koonin, realtor with Atlanta Fine Homes, Sotheby’s International Realty.
Before it was incorporated as a city in 2005, Sandy Springs grew more as a sprawling suburb than a cohesive community. But in early May, the city of Sandy Springs realized a longtime goal of creating a community gathering place. The new City Springs development houses the City Hall as well as two state-of-the art theaters and multi-functional meeting and event space. The building complex, located off Roswell Road between Mt. Vernon and Johnson Ferry roads, also has a residential and retail component.
“It’s very exciting,” said Coldwell Banker agent Debbie Sonenshine. “There’s a lot going on. Sandy Springs always had a soul, but it didn’t really have a heart. Now, to have government offices and a performing arts center all in one place, it will be a real heart of the city.”
The Sandy Springs housing market offers a variety of choices, “from new and old, from first time homebuyer condos and starter homes to some of the most prestigious mansions in the metro area and wonderful mixed empty nester neighborhoods.
“Because of the variety of options, home prices range from moderate to millions,” Koonin said.
Still, affordability is becoming a concern for some Sandy Springs residents. In response, the mayor has started a task force to redevelop the city’s north end – known for a declining retail environment and decades-old low-density housing – in a way that especially benefits lower-income residents.
Rising property values in other areas of the city are a reflection of its success, said Mayor Paul. Sandy Springs has become an important economic engine for the region. It is home to a number of Fortune 500 and other major companies such as Graphic Packages, UPS, Mercedes-Benz and Cox Communications. Even the New York Stock Exchange is owned by a Sandy Springs company, Intercontinental Exchange.
Top schools are family magnet
The city’s excellent public and private schools are key factors that make Sandy Springs an attractive choice for families, Koonin said.
Heards Ferry Elementary, on the west side, for example, opened a new building just a few years ago. At the high school level, Riverwood is an International Baccalaureate school and North Springs is a magnet school specializing in the arts and sciences.
Sandy Springs is also home to many of Atlanta’s Jewish day schools, such as Chaya Mushka, The Davis Academy, The Epstein School and The Weber School, as well as several Jewish preschools. Similarly, the area’s sizeable Jewish population supports a number of synagogues as well as kosher markets.
Mayor Paul says he is proud that the Jewish community is part of Sandy Springs’ diversity and was pleased to set up an Israeli sister-city program with the Western Galilee Cluster, a group of cities in northern Israel. The relationship was established, in large part, to honor Sandy Springs’ founding mayor, Eva Galambos, a Jewish Holocaust survivor.
Other amenities that make Sandy Springs a desirable place to live and visit, according to the mayor, include great shopping, a growing cultural and arts scene that will be enhanced by the new City Springs Performing Arts Center and wonderful parks and recreation areas.
The mayor also points to a low crime rate managed by the 140 sworn officers of the Sandy Springs police department.
And while traffic continues to be a challenge, as in any large city, Sandy Springs has easy access to MARTA, is close to two major highways, and is becoming more pedestrian-friendly with trails and smart development.
Central Atlanta location
Location was what sold Kelly and David Gold on their house in Sandy Springs when they moved from Boston about a year ago. David’s job with an international consumer electronics company was what brought them to Atlanta, but Kelly continues to fly to Boston every few weeks for her job handling mergers and acquisitions in the biotech industry.
They needed a location that was easy for David’s commute to Johns Creek and had quick access to the airport.
The couple also wanted a larger home than they had in Boston that could grow with their family of three young children, ages 1, 3 and 5, their live-in nanny and dog, and easily accommodate visiting grandparents.
They did their research and initially thought they would move to Buckhead or Virginia-Highland, but after Koonin heard their wish list, she directed them to Sandy Springs.
On a visit with her youngest child in tow, Kelly accompanied Koonin to find the perfect Sandy Springs home in the Lake Forest neighborhood. “Sandy Springs is so good for families,” Kelly said. She added that they love being just minutes from the stores at The Prado and close to Chastain Park, where they spend a lot of time. Their children attend Temple Sinai’s preschool, where they’ve made friends with other parents.
Next year, their daughter will attend kindergarten at the Galloway School right in the neighborhood.
Convenience was the primary factor for Marc Baylin, a work-at-home wealth manager who, after selling a house in Sandy Springs near the Dunwoody area, sought Sonenshine’s help to buy a home in Sandy Springs inside the perimeter.
“It’s convenient to everything,” Baylin said. That includes his wife Alba’s work commute downtown and an easy drive to take his youngest son to The Weber School.
The couple is happy with their new home, which was rebuilt in 2008 and features a private backyard and pool, and is about a mile from Chastain Park.
Baylin says he also loves the character of the “non-cookie-cutter” neighborhood, which has both older and newer homes.
With all the growth, especially in the last decade, Mayor Paul said the main focus for the immediate future is to “fulfill the promise” of enriching the city’s quality of life through a stronger sense of connected community.