Cobb County, CID work toward Braves stadium plan
by Rachel Gray
March 02, 2014 04:00 AM | 4744 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
'If we have an opportunity to do it in November and there is consensus to do it in November, it makes sense to have it when we’re already spending the $500,000 for general elections as opposed to another half a million,' said County Chairman Tim Lee. <br>Staff/File
'If we have an opportunity to do it in November and there is consensus to do it in November, it makes sense to have it when we’re already spending the $500,000 for general elections as opposed to another half a million,' said County Chairman Tim Lee.
Staff/File
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CUMBERLAND — With less than a year until ground breaks on the new Braves stadium, Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee said he wants county officials and Cumberland businesses on the same game plan.

Lee said the Cumberland area’s governing board is “working arm-in-arm” with county staff to make the most of the planned $672 million stadium.

The stadium will be built on 60 acres, a rare tract of undeveloped land in an otherwise urban area at the intersection of Inter-states 285 and 75 near Cumber-land Mall.

Both Lee and Cumberland CID Chairman Tad Leithead said the project, which will include a $400 million adjoining mixed-used development of retail stores, restaurants, bars and residential units, is being developed as a result of 25 years of investments by the CID to improve the area.

The CID began in 1988 to tax commercial property owners in a defined 5.5-square mile area. According to the recently released CID’s annual 2013 report, the district includes commercial real estate valued at $2.7 billion, an increase of 220 percent from 1988.

Lee told the CID board no project tied to the stadium is certain, including the public transportation portion, which could be a shuttle, bus or trolley system circulating through the area.

“The only thing that is certain is things are changing and shaping daily,” Lee said.

Most recently, Lee said executives of Home Depot asked for its high-rise headquarters off Paces Ferry Road, on the western edge of the Cumberland area, to be included in the public transportation circuit.

On Thursday morning, Lee used many self-professed “silly analogies” to describe “this blob that we are trying to bring into development.”

Lee said the entertainment district around the future stadium is like an omelet. It seems like a mess in the middle with various ingredients, but is delicious altogether.

A divided, stalled CID

To organize the “mess” and be prepared for a possible list of SPLOST projects, Lee said cities and tax districts in Cobb are being asked by the end of March to give a list of final transportation initiatives to Faye DiMassimo, the county’s transportation director, who attended Thursday’s meeting.

Lee said county commissioners might ask voters to extend for another four years Cobb’s 1-cent SPLOST, which expires Dec. 31, 2015.

Lee told the CID that 90 percent of transportation funding comes from SPLOST, and he wants Cobb’s Department of Transportation’s long list to align with the CID’s future plans.

“We got engaged back in November, and now we are doing the wedding planning,” Lee said. He added this phase can lead to disputes when the plans must involve money and transportation issues.

Leithead said he welcomes input from Lee to the CID board anytime, and would like quarterly updates by Lee for the rapidly evolving project.

The biggest concern, from the discussion Thursday morning, is that the approval of future projects and the direction of the CID has stalled because of disagreement by the six board members and chairman.

On Thursday, Leithead said the board is not aligned and there needs to be a consensus gained, but he was worried some positions by board members have already been staked.

The CID Board will meet for five hours March 27 at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce building to go over financials and vote on the needed approvals for future projects.

One board member, Mason Zimmerman, is the senior vice president and development partner of Pope and Land Enterprises, Inc., an Atlanta-based developer specializing in mixed-use properties in the Southeast.

Zimmerman said the CID has $20 million dollars in the bank, but a decision Thursday on how to use a $50,000 state grant was an example of the stalemates occurring over larger projects.

The CID has already used two GATEway Grants, meant to beautify roadsides along state routes, and is seeking a third to add landscaping at the Paces Ferry Road and Interstate 285 intersection.

But Vice Chairman John Shern said if the idea of the grant is to improve a true gateway into the district, than further south on I-285 at Atlanta Road would be better.

In an effort not to miss out on any funding, the six member board and the chairman came to a unanimous decision to target the Paces Ferry Road spot.

“I say we take it, even if they call it ‘Poke in the Eye Grant,’” Leithead.

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