Franklin Road improvements face opposition
by Bridgette Bonner
bbonner@mdjonline.com
April 14, 2013 12:22 AM | 3054 views | 10 10 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With Mayor Steve Tumlin looking to ask voters to approve a $35 million ‘quality of life’ bond in November, Franklin Road improvements could lead to a more enticing business atmosphere to attract companies.<br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
With Mayor Steve Tumlin looking to ask voters to approve a $35 million ‘quality of life’ bond in November, Franklin Road improvements could lead to a more enticing business atmosphere to attract companies.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
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MARIETTA — The city has a plan to change the face of Franklin Road that involves purchasing and razing a slew of aging apartment complexes.

That has opponents grousing about the well-documented dangers that a city can face whenever it dips its toe into the risky waters of the real estate business.

But the city wouldn’t need to buy all the complexes, just some of them, said Marietta Economic Development Director Beth Sessoms.

Different companies own the complexes along Franklin Road between Delk Road and the South Loop, and the city plans to contact some of them to determine their willingness to sell. There hasn’t been contact yet, Sessoms said.

“It’s too early in the process,” Sessoms said. “We all think there’s a need for redevelopment of that area, but it’s very preliminary.”



A drag on city services



Part of the new ownership project — which would be funded by a $35 million general obligation bond for urban redevelopment — includes building a connector road from Cobb Parkway to Franklin Road. The road would create better connectivity and redevelopment opportunities for the area, Sessoms said.

Mayor Steve Tumlin said the amount isn’t set in stone, and the bond could be for more or less than $35 million, depending on future planning of the project. Regardless of the amount of the bond, it would need to be approved by voters in Marietta.

“We’ve been looking at Franklin Road as a challenge from a fire, police and school-system standpoint,” Sessoms said. “It’s all in pretty rough shape.”



No eminent domain



The city would use the urban redevelopment law, which allows demolition and removal of structures for the prevention of slums, but wouldn’t use eminent domain. Any change in ownership would have to be voluntary, she said.

But the plan is just an idea for now, she said.

“The council just heard it for the first time and wants more information, which we don’t have yet, regarding the cost of any of the complexes who might sell,” Sessoms said. “But the council is very aware of the challenges on Franklin Road. We continue to see foreclosures, and each time (the ownership) trades hands, it gets worse.”

Although initial whispers suggested the city was looking to buy all the complexes and redevelop them, Sessoms said that’s not a financial possibility.

“The city would look to acquire some of them, and by getting rid of some of the apartments, we can build a more stable tenant base,” she said.



‘We’re stuck with those scores’



The lack of stability comes from having too many apartments in one area and incentives such as initial months of free rent and a lack of background checks just to fill the properties, Marietta Board of Education Chairman Randy Weiner said.

Weiner said the Marietta Board of Education is an enthusiastic supporter of Tumlin’s initiative.

The lack of stability is what hurts the school system, Weiner said. “The main problem is the transient nature of that area. The kids come into school mid-year, leave mid-year and come in before tests, and we’re stuck with those scores.”

Kids who stay in the school system year-round tend to perform better, Weiner said.

“If we take some of the complexes down, there would be fewer options, and the owners wouldn’t have to offer the incentives,” he said. “And the tenants wouldn’t be jumping from one apartment to the next.”

Franklin Road now has around 3,000 apartment units. If the number of units were to be cut in half from 3,000 to 1,500, then presumably the vacancy rates would decrease and properties would become more marketable and therefore more stable.

“If we can get a better balance and number of apartments there, people will start seeing change,” Sessoms said. “We’re encouraging business growth and growth from Life University and Southern Polytechnic in that area. Franklin Road didn’t become in its current state overnight, and it won’t change overnight.”
Comments
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Been done before..
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April 15, 2013
Check with Smyrna. They used taxpayer dollars to purchase run-down apartments on Windy Hill Road. The city, and the taxpayers, still own the vacant land with no takers to take the city off the hook.
anonymous
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April 14, 2013
This is a complicated issue for sure and no one person has the answer. That is why, like them or not, our elected officials are elected into office to look at all sides of the issue. Our elected officials are a whole lot smarter than the people that blast them give them credit for. If Cobb County can come up with resolutions to blight, other areas (not only in the U.S. but worldwide) can use the same model. I don't have the total answer. I can offer parts. I don't think I am smart enough to solve this problem by myself.
Pat H
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April 14, 2013
Someone approved all those apartment complexes so close together. Now there are too many too close?

All you need to do is fine the owners who rent to thugs without background checks. Fine the complexes that are not maintained.

Why a new road? There are two access road to that area now and they are fine, no delays.

The developers and contractors hired illegal aliens to work on city and county contracts and too many of them are living and destroying the apartments and the school scores. When Miss Kitty's was there it was a good area. Now only run down Hispanic stores and nightclubs fill the area. The people destroyed Franklin Road - county and city elected officials and contractors and developers.

Just guessing that Croy will be awarded the "study" to build a new road.
anonymous
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April 14, 2013
This is your theory of what happened to Franklin Road in your words, Pat. Illegal aliens were hired to work on city and county contracts and they moved to Franklin Road. Go check the fact numbers. The crimes that are being committed there are not all by illegal aliens. Who do you attribute responsibility for the crimes that are being committed on Franklin Road that are not illegal aliens?
anonymous
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April 15, 2013
So what if Croy is awarded a contract? That would mean Croy came up with the best proposal and the best costs. Just guessing you are prejudiced against Croy without facts to back up your accusations. I guess, yes, Croy is providing the best value to the county. Dispute me with facts and not just your slanderous forecast.
anonymous
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April 15, 2013
I hate to break the news to you and to your fantasy, but the decline of apartments in some areas began long, long, long ago before illegal immigrants were a problem. This is a complex issue that is best left up to your elected officials and their teams to figure out. You, Pat H., do not have the entire answer, although your contribution that Croy and illegal aliens are the problem will surely be taken into consideration.
anonymous
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April 15, 2013
You are kidding, aren't you? You blame Franklin Road on illegal aliens?
well
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April 15, 2013
Clearly your issue is not the redevelopment of the area but other hostilities. Your response is laced in a lot of bigotry!
Gang and drug area
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April 14, 2013
The area is a drug and crime scene. Numerous crimes and many murders have occured there going back at least 25 years. Anything less than gettig rid of those crime infested apartments would be a waste of time. The resources saved by not having a crime center in the heart of Cobb will more than pay for the redevelopment costs.
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