By Sarah LaDart – Economic Development Manager, City of Milton
The city of Milton, nestled in the northern tip of Fulton County and incorporated in 2006, is one of Georgia’s fastest-growing cities having seen its population increase more than 19% over the past five years. Quality of life, security, and an inviting, picturesque community are a few of the factors considered when deciding where to raise a family or open a business. For those exact reasons, Milton continues to flourish.
To this point, the online publication 24/7 Wall Street in 2020 named Milton “The Best City to Live in Georgia” while Safewise ranked it the state’s 3rd Safest City. Perhaps most tellingly, residents love living here with 96% describing it as an excellent/good place to raise children, 94% approving its overall appearance, and 92% rating Milton highly overall in ICMA’s 2019 National Community Survey.
And we are determined to keep it that way. The City is now creating our five-year Strategic Plan and 2040 Comprehensive Plan. The former offers a big-picture, strategic look coupled with measurable goals, objectives and projects for government departments. The Comprehensive Plan, meanwhile, takes a larger, more inclusive scope that envisions what Milton should be like two decades from now and what needs to happen to make this a reality. Both Plans complement each other and incorporate input from business owners, faith leaders, and residents of all types.
Most Milton land is zoned residential, leaving only 2% for commercial use in our three main commercial development nodes — Deerfield/Highway 9, Crabapple, and Birmingham Crossroads. These districts allow for the highest density and business opportunity. The City is committed to do what it can to strategically promote responsible, sustainable growth by recruiting and retaining businesses that complement Milton’s vision. And all three areas have a lot to offer now and could see even more notable developments in the coming years.
Birmingham Crossroads, in the northern portion of the city, is home to several restaurants and the beloved Matilda’s – Milton’s very own eclectic music venue showcasing local and regional artists and is the winner of Family Life Publications “Best of Life Awards 2020”. And a mixed-use development is emerging there that will include office space, retail, single-family homes, and a village green keeping with Milton’s desire to preserve green space.
Crabapple is Milton’s downtown and hub of activity of late. Crabapple Market has been its anchor since before Olde Blind Dog was named the “Irish Pub of the World” in 2015 by the Irish Pubs Global Federation. Drive down Crabapple Road or Heritage Walk, you can see workers putting the finishing touches on a build-out that will soon feature more stores, restaurants, office space and an enclosed parking deck. The Green is very active with yoga, cornhole leagues, general gatherings, and the seasonal Meet Me in Milton — a collaboration between the City and downtown developers to bring a family-friendly block party to residents. While COVID-19 curtailed most of this event’s 2020 schedule, we hope to bring back Meet Me in Milton as soon as possible in 2021 on the third Saturday of the month. Check the City calendar, Facebook page, and Meet Me in Milton Facebook page for updates.
A few hundred feet from The Green, Crossroads Crabapple – Market District is taking shape. Slated to start opening in 2021, this 4.37-acre development is expected to one day boast approximately 70,000 square feet of office/retail/restaurant space and 1.8 acres of residences — 80% of which will be dedicated for adults aged 55 and older. One of the first establishments to take customers will be a Starbucks owned by a Milton resident. This will be followed around mid-March by Atlanta native Billy Allen’s exciting restaurant concept including a shared plate social eating experience, champagne breakfast weekends, and live entertainment six nights of the week featuring piano players and acoustic songwriters.
Deerfield/Highway 9, in the eastern portion of the city, is home to the City’s new Public Safety Complex — including a nearly 25,000-square-foot police and court building, and a separate 14,000-square-foot fire station. This area is among Milton’s busiest day in and day out, with the highest number of relative residents and businesses. It’s also primed to continue evolving, including a possible deep dive as part of the 2040 Comprehensive Plan.
Deerfield is our corporate node, home to an expansive Verizon office and Brainjocks. The latter is a marketing technology firm that, after being acquired by Perficient in March, has announced plans to keep its Deerfield footprint. Another major player in that corridor, Philips Healthcare, will expand its own presence in Milton by 88 jobs in August.
Our business community is changing for the better as well. In January 2020, the City helped foster the merger of the Milton Business Alliance with the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce to create the Milton Business Council (MBC). This landmark move will provide even greater benefits to Milton’s business community, helmed by a volunteer-led group of Milton business leaders passionate about what’s happening now and excited about the city’s future. MBC will both have a unique identity paired with expertise and support (as far as quarterly events, professional training, and advocacy) from the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce.
With the guidance of a thoughtful City Council, professional staff, and engaged community, Milton is becoming a place that offers opportunities that can’t be done anywhere else.