“This could be our golden mile,” said Browning, who added that he would like to see people who work in town, but commute home to East Cobb, Paulding or Cherokee, find a nice place to live in Marietta.
At Wednesday’s city council meeting, the Urban Redevelopment Plan was expanded to include economically depressed sections along Whitlock Avenue.
James Eubanks, a large property owner and DMDA board member, said he favors maneuvering money to pockets of areas that are in need, but does question the slum label that is attached to the bond projects.
“I would caution not to throw one large sum of money at a problem area,” said Eubanks, who added that he would prefer the city to look at multiple areas instead of one portion.
If voters approve a bond to fund projects in distressed areas, Whitlock Avenue could be lined with sidewalks.
At the close of the DMDA meeting, members talked about the needs of young mothers walking to the Square, and if the plans would include a bike path or widening the road.
Eubanks said, while he is undecided about the Franklin Road bond project, he fully supports sidewalk projects.
Any property within 2 to 3 miles of the Square should have a sidewalk to encourage Marietta citizens to exercise, as well “develop a sense of community and knowing your neighbors,” said Eubanks.
Dave Reardon, DMDA board member and owner of Shillings on the Square, said that sidewalks are always good to add, if possible, because of the increasing safety needs.
But Reardon said that he did not feel a Whitlock project would increase foot traffic into the Square.
“I don’t believe anyone in Georgia wants to walk anywhere,” Reardon said.
Discussion of tall buildings
Other recent business developments on the Square were on the minds of DMDA members Thursday.
Last week, the Georgia Supreme Court denied hearing a case that would allow Marietta City Councilman Philip Goldstein to erect a five-story building at the corner of North Park Square and Root Street.
Reardon said that he wasn’t opposed to Goldstein’s office space, but that anything built on that property needs to match the surrounding facades, which includes his restaurant.
Reardon said that the proposed building “was not much different” from tall government buildings in the area.
Eubanks served on the Historic Board of Review when Goldstein first presented the plan a couple of years ago.
“It was a charming design, with a retro feel, that was also contemporary and fresh,” said Eubanks, who said he feels that a tall building can work downtown, but not in that specific location because of the neighboring shorter buildings.
Goldstein owns another vacant building a few spaces away at 105 North Park Square, which still has a large marquee from its theater days.
Goldstein said that although it is set up for a restaurant, he would consider a retailer moving in.
He added that there has been increased interest in his rental spaces on the Square in the last few months.
“As a person who works on the Square, goes to church on the Square, and lives a half mile from the Square,” Eubanks said that he wants to continue the type of restaurant development that has started downtown to “cater to different palates.”
One local eatery, Tommy’s Sandwich Shop, closed at the end of March.
Amanda Sutter, Economic Development Project Manager, said she knows Manning Properties has two or three different prospects for the open space. Sutter said that she expects the owners will be narrowing down to a decision soon.
The DMDA members had a big decision of their own to make at this month’s meeting.
The board unanimously approved sponsoring 13 programs operating in the downtown district.
Johnny Fulmer and Paula Goldstein Shea abstained from voting because of their ties with some of the organizations requesting money.
The $105,250 to be administered is a significant, one-time increase to show the board’s confidence and commitment to the area, said Eubanks.
The yearly support for events, such as the July 4th Parade, concert series, farmers’ market and Art Walks, “pushes the trend of economic recovery” on the Square, according to Eubanks.