As the first Owners came online at Assembly, Dave Schmit shared some of the vision and work behind this massive 165-acre redevelopment project. After almost a decade sitting idle, the site of the former GM auto assembly plant is coming back to life. 

Interviewed by Todd Schnick and Carol Morgan on Atlanta Real Estate Forum, Dave detailed the scale of the work needed to get the site ready for new construction. The first several years were the purchase phase, where the Doraville 60 partnership bid, negotiated and ultimately purchased the property for $50 million. The next year was about taking down roughly 90 acres of buildings, where over 100,000 tons of red iron were reclaimed, recycled and largely repurposed on the site. Next years were dominated by planning, entitling, and working with the city of Doraville to make sure the end result is in keeping with the city’s vision.  Then came the public finance stage, with tax structure created to allow property taxes generated by the site to go into the public infrastructure that is ultimately owned by the city. And along the way, sales and marketing efforts began curating the projects that will come together to fill the site with a vibrant urban mix of commercial and residential uses. 

Third Rail Studios and Serta Simmons Bedding are at now operating in Assembly, and new park and trail areas will soon be open to the public. Additional projects will add more commercial activity to the area, including an entertainment district. New residential projects coming online will bring opportunities to live in this ideal location. 

Roswell Magazine recently set out on a mission to expand their local coverage, using talks with some of the city’s more involved residents. Each person would be asked the same question:

“What would you change first if you were publisher of Roswell Magazine for a day?”

After identifying 10 community leaders to speak with, Publisher Regina Barkley contacted Dave Schmit. Searching Google told her that Dave is someone who, as she writes, ‘walks the walk’. Although Regina didn’t get specific suggestions for her magazine, she did get Dave’s larger vision for Roswell and what he believes is needed for its viability going forward.

Professionally, Dave has worked to develop thriving communities in numerous cities around the country. Locally, he has developed projects like Roswell Court, Forrest Commons, and Veranda. He has worked on public initiatives like Roswell’s Comprehensive Plan and Strategic Economic Development Committees. He has led numerous civic and nonprofit boards, providing strategic planning as well as leadership. He has coached sports teams and mentored college classes.

He and his wife Rena have raised two sons here. Dave is invested in Roswell.

His experience has led him to clear philosophies about what a community, like Roswell, must have to have to succeed. Things like decisive leadership and deliberate action. Open and consistent communication among historic and environmental preservation groups, cultural, recreational and arts communities, business owners and government officials. From those conversations, decision making and action have to follow in a timely fashion. In this highly charged political era, it can be difficult to bring and keep a community together. Not everyone will share the same view of the best course. Leaders are challenged to break through conflicting ideas and loud voices to make reasoned decisions. How Roswell meets these objectives will directly impact the lifestyle that residents enjoy and the investments they have made.

Read the full article in Roswell Magazine.

Auburn’s vision for its downtown district began to take shape – visually – in a 3-day charrette, August 22-24, 2018. Gathering at TSW Planners, Architects and Landscape Architectsheadquarters in Atlanta, their professionals worked with engineers, city officials, partners, and citizens talked through options. Sketcheswere then created to help illustrate the plan.

At the big reveal public meeting in Auburn on Day 3, Mayor Linda Blechinger reminded the crowd that this presentation didn’t come to fruition just in the last 2 days.

“This is something we’ve been talking about and planning for. We’ve had time to choose how our city will grow and how it will look.”

City Administrator Alex Mitchem added,

“This is us, taking control of our destiny. We could let development happen, unabated, and likely not be happy with the results. Now, thanks to the leadership of visionaries in our city, past and present, who have guided us to this point, we’ve spent the time to plan. We’ve worked with Dave Schmit, who has brought the expertise we need to work through this.”

Expertise included Bill Tunnell, Founding Principal of TSW, who kicked off the working sessions by having the group think through the ‘building blocks’ that are known and need to be considered in the land plan.

Among the many items included:

  • City Hall – keeping in mind access needs of various operations, parking and green space
  • Ball fields
  • Elementary School
  • Auburn Center
  • Potential brewery and other new business prospects
  • Existing businesses who would like to expand or relocate within downtown district
  • Library
  • Hawthorne family home
  • Whistlestop Shops

The discussions that followed were about connecting the existing downtown area on the north side of the railroad tracks with property on the south side that is earmarked for a new City Hall complex and potential residences. Details regarding topography, parking, green spaces, traffic flow, housing types and streetscapes were vetted. Road connections were proposed in several areas to allow for more access and reduced traffic as the area develops.

The presentation prioritized areaswhere it is believed the best potential for initial impact lies. Areas in the district boundary that aren’t specifically called out in the drawings could certainly benefit from the proposed activity.

Dave Schmit added perspective about the investment community, and its relationship to Auburn planning.

“Some of the institutional capital sources are starting to pull back. This is a reality that we will need to deal with going through this process. Some of the conservative nature of our estimates and risk assessments are included in the plans to make sure what we dream will be done. The good news is, the draw of walkable downtown, which is in low supply, creates a high demand position.”

Next steps include detailed discussion of the draft plan by Mayor and City Council, and working through the logistics of City Hall Complex design and construction.


Attendees for the first two days, in TSW’s Atlanta headquarters:

Mayor Linda Blechinger

Council Member Jay Riemenschneider

Police Chief Christopher Hodge

Alex Mitchem, City Administrator

Jay Miller, Planning and Zoning Director

Amelia & Charlie Finch, Auburn residents, potential brewery owners

Joe Perno, Asst. Supt. System Operations, Barrow County Schools

Chitra Subbarayan, CBD Real Estate, Economic Development

Dave Schmit, Schmit + Associates

Bill Tunnell, TSW Founding Principal

Ryan Snodgrass, TSW Planner

Alex Fite Wassilak, TSW Planner

Sara McColley, TSW Planner, landscape designer

Cindy Cox, TSW Illustrator

Geoff Koski, Bleakly Advisory Group

Steve Rowe, AECCivil Engineer

Nancy Diamond, Project Mgr, Schmit + Associates

ROSWELL, GA, March 22, 2018 – Roswell celebrates the opening of Roswell Court, a newly completed project blending luxury homes, neighborhood office and quiet retail. At the corner of Norcross and Forrest Streets, it’s less than ½ mile from Canton Street, and well within walking distance to all the festivals, shops and dining of Historic Roswell. Convenient access to GA 400 is just 2 miles away.

JW Collection, John Wieland’s boutique brand, partnered with Schmit + Associates to create Roswell Court. “This neighborhood setting is unique, walkable and right where you want to be with detailed homes that sacrifice nothing in sophistication or style,” commented John Wieland.

“This is the first small lot, true mixed-use development in Roswell,” said Dave Schmit, principal of Schmit + Associates. “Combining high end offices with John Wieland’s impeccable touch to residential, it’s an exceptional opportunity.”

The Historic District is undergoing redevelopment with the recent opening of 2 breweries, a planned distillery, a planned hotel, library renovation and other new projects. The nearby Roswell Plaza Shopping Center was purchased by the city and will be undergoing redevelopment as a mixed-use concept. There are few other office condo units that can be purchased in the area.

The 3-building community includes:

  • Seven town homes from $539,000
    • 2400+ sq ft, w/garages
    • 5 already sold
  • Ten city homes (above) from $600’s
    • 3000+ sq ft, w/garages and elevators
  • Five commercial condos (street level)
    • 1100+ sq ft, from $300’s
    • 4 remain – just completed
  • One 2-story retail/office building
    • 2165+ sq ft total