As a teenager who has recently learned to drive and who has some money to spend, I am constantly looking for cool new things to do with my friends. I've driven all over the literal state with my friends, just hanging out - we've been to Dahlonega for dinner, Austell for coffee, Ellijay to hike and to the airport just to watch the planes fly over. We've been downtown countless numbers of times, and we've probably driven the whole of Buford Highway multiple times for the fun of it. This past weekend, looking to keep things closer to home and more casual, we went and sat alongside the river in Roswell, drove to East Cobb for pizza and grabbed a milkshake in Cumming before coming home to Johns Creek.

THAT'S closer to home?

Actually, it is... because there's not a lot to do in Johns Creek.

Okay, don't get me wrong, there is a lot to do. But in terms of unique things we can't do anywhere else, unique restaurants we can't eat at anywhere else or unique places to visit that we couldn't see anywhere else... what do we have? Most of our restaurants are chains. Most of our attractions are private country clubs, and we have really nice parks and river trails... that close when it gets dark. So everybody migrates to Roswell, or Alpharetta, or Suwanee, or Woodstock, looking for a bit of unique fun.

The key that Johns Creek needs is a "downtown" area - think cutesy clusters of locally-owned stores and restaurants like Roswell town center - that will attract all ages. Adults will flock to have drinks. Teens will come for large dinner parties. It will be a gathering space with character... and I specify "with character" because Johns Creek does have some large strip-center conglomerates that are stuffed with stores and restaurants, but they have no charm. I love Chili's and iHop and Panera and Starbucks as much as anyone, but nobody will come to Johns Creek for these places. They're anywhere. There's nothing to make them special, and so, people continue to leave for nearby cities to have fun.

And where would we put it, you might ask? "Traffic already sucks, the last thing we need is MORE", I can hear you all thinking. But the truth is that we have a LOT of empty shopping centers, strips that sit empty except for a small dry cleaners on the end. They could easily be knocked down and changed to create a small town center - think Vickery up 141. We had a very good place to do this when Dean Gardens was demolished, but now we have more houses (ho, hum). Yet there is still ample space in our town to put somewhere for citizens to be EXCITED to visit.

We just need somewhere that is cute and cool and makes people think, "Oh, I really do love this. This was worth the visit." Somewhere that keeps people here, spending their money in our town's economy and supporting our town's entrepreneurs instead of driving thirty minutes away instead. We need somewhere that, when a carfull of people are driving around, stumped on how to spend their Friday night, they think, "Oh, we can go to that downtown Johns Creek area and just see what's going on."

Let's make Johns Creek a destination, not just somewhere for people to sleep before they head into neighboring towns for work AND fun.