Council not sold on mayor's proposal to raze apartments
by Bridgette Bonner
March 29, 2013 12:17 AM | 3123 views | 16 16 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
(Staff/Kelly Huff)
(Staff/Kelly Huff)
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Some city council members showed openness Thursday to Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin’s proposal to ask voters to support a $35 million bond to do away with out-of-date apartment complexes on Franklin Road.

The targeted area — a mile and a half stretch of Franklin Road between Delk Road and the South Loop — has approximately 3,000 units. 

As soon as November, the council may request the funds from voters to pave the way for new development to replace the old complexes. Tumlin said during a committee meeting Thursday the replacement may be residential or commercial — whatever will help the area more. 

Council member Johnny Sinclair said the city should consider replacing only a portion of the complexes, shifting residents to the remaining complexes to put them at full capacity. 

“At full vacancy, those complexes can afford to make renovations,” he said. “The problem is that there are too many complexes on Franklin Road with vacancies.”

The bond to fund the purchase of the aging complexes would require a 2 mill increase for taxpayers, or about $160 on a home assessed at $200,000, Marietta Economic Development Director Beth Sessoms said. 

The bond would be a 20-year bond, City Attorney Doug Haynie said. 

Tumlin said the proposal follows the voters’ acceptance of the recent SPLOST proposal, allowing the Marietta Board of Education to pay off its indebtedness. 

Tumlin said he’s looking at a ripple effect in redeveloping the buildings. The area requires high police and fire attention and hinders the schools’ performances, council members said. 

Tumlin’s plan is to aggressively fight against urban blight for the sake of the schools, residents, businesses and pubic safety, he said. 

The city would use the Marietta Housing Authority to relocate the residents, Tumlin said. 

Marietta Board of Education Chairman Randy Weiner said the bond is one of the most important ever to come to the voters.

“It has the potential to not only transform the city, but transform the school system,” Weiner said. “A lot of our highest needs and transient students come from the Franklin Road area, and it will greatly stabilize our student population.”

The targeted area houses approximately one-eighth of the city schools’ population, he said. 

Tumlin said the redevelopment would put Marietta on the right track to make the city an even better place to live. 

Some council members agreed Franklin Road needs attention, but had some questions about the proposal. 

“I feel rushed,” Council member Jim King said. “I’m not sure what we’re signing up for.”

Haynie said the city has to do a careful study and investigation of the project before moving forward. 

“Eminent domain cannot be done,” Haynie said. “This must be on a voluntary purpose.”

Council members brought up the possibility that the residents may not move out of the same area, forcing police attention to remain there and the school district to see little change. 

In order to bring the proposal to the voters in November, the council must make all final decisions by August, Haynie said. It will take two council meetings to finalize any plans, he said.

During the April council meeting, members will vote on hiring financial Consultant Diane McNabb and Bond Attorney Teresa Finister, and to adopt an ordinance. A following meeting in May or later would require a public hearing, designation of targeted areas and a list of projects.

Comments
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mk-big picture
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March 31, 2013
WHAT has Marietta, Smyrna and Cobb County done to create a livable community?

I think the answer is , NOTHING!

You can't bring UP Franklin Road, w/out a PLAN in place for Cobb Parkway and the surrounding communities!

Cobb Parkway should be planned w/ new companies, businesses, manufacturing, new ideas & design!!

The infrastucture's there,.. use it! Cobb Parkway, from 285 to Windy Hill should already be built residential/mixed use,.. spreading Vinings wealth & prosperity north!

An energized, hip district could be created, called NoVi-(north vinings),.. but it would take vision & openmindedness, (& money)!

THEN, the need for better residential options will follow!

If some high profile companies could be lured north of 285,.. the private developers would want to come into the Franklin Road area,.. because there would be new value!

Gwinnetts Partership economic plan has been up and running since 2007. Cobb County has been asleep.

Like they say, you snooze, you loose.

The I-85 corridor is gaining worldwide aclaim & attention, becoming a high tech corridor all the way from Doraville, Norcross, Duluth & Suwanee.

THAT is how Cobb County & it's cities should be working--- TOGETHER!!.
mk-Suwanee = $$$$
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March 31, 2013
Yes, HIGH dollar Suwanee. Better take a ride through Gwinnett, if you are in the know.

Suwanee & Duluth are attracting high tech businesses, Fortune 500 companies and a high paid, educated workforce.

This area is merging w/ Johns creek & Alpharetta. See the River Club golf community being built by the Sugarloaf developers. Quality of life plays big factor.

The schools reflect the community. Suwanee has 5 elementary schools in the top 25 2012 rankings. You have to go all the way down to # 170 to find Smyrna's King Springs, followed by Teasley at # 369.

Also, out of all the 342 Georgia cities, Suwanee schools rank # 4. Smyrna schools rank # 195.

Don't let these little facts hinder your fantasy about Smyrna.
rhl3rd
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March 29, 2013
Good idea in general but I am afraid that Roswell Rd east side of the city will be the next GHETTO. People who live in Apartments are transient and will find somewhere else in the city to move. Drive there and look at the area sometime. It is definitely not on the up. MK, we know about your plan for Cobb Pkwy. Good idea but it is getting boring seeing it every few days. Stick with the article.
Silver Fox
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March 29, 2013
Smyrna has proven it works. Our city and our schools will benefit if we fight to reduce the number of bad apartment complexes and therefore increase the percentage of owner occupied housing within the city. Great work Johnny and Thunder. We are proud of you.
anonymous
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March 29, 2013
This is an extremely complex problem that all cities and counties in the entire country face; other developed countries face urban blight also. Urban blight is a fact of life. There is a typo in the article: "At full vacancy, those complexes can afford to make renovations." Should read: "At full occupancy." A better answer to me would be to propose to only remove some of them, thus allowing the remainder to get up to full occupancy so renovations would be made. The answer surely is not to just move people from point A to point B and tear point A down and start over. In 10 years, point B will be in the same shape as the $35 million point A once was. Things such as stricter code enforcement right from the start might help a little. Marietta cannot rid itself of bad elements. All surrounding counties have their own spots of urban blight. Marietta and Cobb County are not the only ones. I guess you CAN do this-tear down blighted areas and start over, but you will be on a merry-go-round. Another blighted area will soon pop up.

Ashley in Marietta
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March 29, 2013
Private money hasn't changed Franklin Road in the past. Public investment in clearing the properties to ready them for development is the best way to bring private money to the table. It is a win/win. Taxpayers save money in the long run because less crime/fewer code violations/higher tax values/job creation with new industry/better schools. Private investors win because they can quickly act on property that is shovel ready.
Red Bull 23
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March 29, 2013
Thank you Mayor Tumlin and Councilman Sinclair for your bold leadership on this issue. We are fortunate to have elected leaders like you who will fight to save our school system and reduce crime in Marietta. Thank you for fighting for the next generation.
Liz Helenek
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March 29, 2013
Why would the taxpayers want to pay for what is essentially another redevelopment project when the redevelopment projects started years ago are unfunded and undeveloped? Why is the city in the business of speculative real estate?
City planner
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March 29, 2013
Liz-. This taxpayer would -along with many others. Thank god for leaders like our Mayor who are willing to step up with a bold big picture idea. It's up to the council and the mayor to come up with a focused plan and present that to voters. Most of us who care about the city and it's strong school system will support this effort. Looking forward to more details about this.
Rushed is right!
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March 29, 2013
This sounds like a "rushed through" kind of thing, no real planning, just the Big Picture. Well, guess what, most of us are not going to go for some half-baked plan to buy up old buildings. This is not really attacking urban blight, it is just trying to ram through a very expensive band-aid.
mk-what PLAN?
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March 29, 2013
I don't see anything here that resembles a plan, or even much thought!

It could be residential or commercial, Tumlin says.

Between Tumlin & Bacon, there's just not any real smart vision or economic drive.

The taxpayers should NOT be on the hook for this dream. At the very least it should be a 50/50 public/private venture, if not ALL private!!!

What needs to be addressed, is HOW to bring VALUE to this NW corridor, north of Vinings.

WHY does quality development stop dead in its tracks at the Smyrna city limits?

Cobb Parkway should have a DESIGN & PLAN in place that starts w/ assemblage of some of the older run down strip centers, etc. If Cobb, Smyrna & Marietta could start REdevelopment from 285 to Windy Hill, along Cobb Parkway the transformation could entice a more educated workforce to move a little more north to this area, in turn, businesses & companies might then show interest to combine efforts to turn Franklin Road into a light industrial &/or high tech business center for the people moving up from Vinings area, north.

Jumping in to Franklin Road, while leaving the main artery, Cobb Parkway w/out any development plan seems like a piece of the 'plan' is missing.

Gwinnett has worked diligently on Peachtree Industrial from Doraville, through Norcross, to Duluth to high dollar Suwanee. They HAVE created a high tech corridor. Businesses and company headquarters are flocking to Gwinnett.

Why has Cobb County ignored Cobb Parkway for 20 years?

Cobb Parkway should have already been transformed into a live/work mixed use destination, dotted w/ condos/lofts & highrises.
Liz Helenek
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March 29, 2013
Hire an urban planner, someone who can put it all

together, see the city and country in total, not just here and there in spot zonings.
Move On
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March 29, 2013
You could move to Gwinnett. It doesn't sound like you much like living in Cobb.
anonymous
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March 29, 2013
There is a plan in place. It is the EDGE program. Educate yourself before you rant. Somebody told me Gwinnett would love to have you there. Gwinnett is calling you. Why don't you answer? Peachtree Industrial awaits you.
Yee Haw
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March 29, 2013
Had to laugh. High-dollar Suwanee? First, there are less than ten thousand people there. Second, the median income for males in Suwanee is estimated to be $60,147 versus median income of $40,650 for females. HOWEVER (and a huge however), the per capita income for the city is around $29,712. I will explain it to you: this means Suwanee has many many people that live in poverty in order to arrive at the figure of $29,712 per capita income. Hardly high dollar. Well, maybe to you $29 grand is high dollar but it isn't to me!

anonymous*)
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March 29, 2013
We have to do something to improve the schools and the recent crime spreading to other parts of the city. I am not sure if this is solution but it certainly opens lines for discussion and is a starting point.

And how do you address this?

"Council members brought up the possibility that the residents may not move out of the same area, forcing police attention to remain there and the school district to see little change. "

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