MARIETTA — A $2.5 million federal grant could help fund improvements to Franklin Road beyond what the $68 million redevelopment bond issue passed last fall is likely to buy, including construction of new roads.
Marietta officials plan to apply for a U.S. Department of Transportation grant to pay for the majority of the $3.2 million cost of completing design plans for streetscape additions, sidewalks and a street connecting Franklin Road to Cobb Parkway.
The city may seek additional federal money to foot the bill for actual construction costs in the future.
“We’re trying to go after federal funds that will help with the revitalization,” said Kyethea Clark, planning and development specialist in Marietta’s economic development department.
Voters approved a $68 million bond issuance in November allowing the City Council to purchase and tear down aging apartment complexes along the corridor. Two were purchased at the end of last year, totaling $20 million, including the 386-unit, 25.2-acre Woodlands Park complex and the 348-unit, 24.3-acre Flagstone Village Apartments.
After the buildings are razed, the city will market the land to developers. About $4 million of the bond is earmarked for improvements along Whitlock Avenue.
“Anytime you get $64 million and it fits into a plan, it’s wonderful,” said Mayor Steve Tumlin.
Still, other upgrades could help boost the corridor’s revitalization, such as additional landscaping and streetlights plus construction of new trails. Tumlin said with federal grants, “you get more bang for your buck.”
“It makes that whole area come together quicker. Without things like the (DOT) grant, we could not move along near as quickly,” Tumlin said. “What we could do in four years, it would take us 20.”
If Marietta is selected, included in the designs the grant would fund are sidewalks and streetscapes from Franklin Court to Kingston Court, extension of the Rottenwood Creek trail and construction of a new street connecting Cobb Parkway to Franklin Road.
Streetscape work has already been completed from Twinbrooks Drive to Wood Glenn Apartments along Franklin Road, which was partially funded by another grant. About $2.5 million of the project’s $3.1 million cost was paid for by a grant from the Livable Centers Initiative which is operated by the Atlanta Regional Commission.
The streetscapes promote “complete streets,” Clark said, and can accommodate motorists, bikers and pedestrians.
Pedestrians and bikers may find yet another alternative for transportation in the area, if the city extends the Rottenwood Creek trail near Franklin Road. The trail will eventually connect Southern Polytechnic State University and Life University to the Cumberland area.
“I think this will be something as great as a Silver Comet because of the natural environment, the creek bed,” Clark said.
More connectivity is planned with the construction of a new road, proposed to be named University Parkway North and South, linking Cobb Parkway to Franklin Road.
“These are roads that will connect the university to this job center we’re trying to revitalize,” Clark said.
Franklin Road is just about 3 miles from the site of the new Atlanta Braves stadium, which will see its first pitch in 2017.
Marietta expects to see positive impacts from the relocation of the baseball team’s home field, as spectators traveling from north of the city will likely drive through the Franklin Road area.
“It’s pulling in a lot of people just from the metro area,” Clark said. “We are looking to grow and benefit from that, but we also want to prepare.”