Changing the image of the corridor known for its aging apartments and perception of acting as a hotbed for crime will be paramount in bringing developers to Franklin Road.
“We want to make sure people understand that there is change up and down the corridor and that it’s visible,” said Timothy Eachus, managing director of Jones Lang LaSalle, which was chosen to be the city’s guru on Franklin Road.
Eachus’ presentation Wednesday night during a non-voting City Council meeting comes about five months after voters gave city officials permission to raise their property tax rates by up to 2 mills for 20 years in order to fund the purchase of dilapidated apartment complexes on Franklin Road.
That means the owner of a $200,000 home will see a tax increase of $160 per year, while the owner of a $400,000 home would see a tax bill jump up by $320.
Eachus also told City Council redevelopment must happen alongside an effort to step up law enforcement and code enforcement on the corridor.
“Hand in hand with that, is changing public perception,” Eachus said.
His firm also recommends improving infrastructure for transportation along Franklin Road.
“We want to make it more grid-like with more possibilities for development,” Eachus said.
That would create more visible improvements, he said, and better communicate to the public that change is happening along the corridor.
None of the apartment complexes the city has purchased could be repositioned for another use, Eachus said. He recommended they be demolished as soon as they are vacant to prevent crime and vandalism associated with boarded up buildings.
“We need to make the redevelopment feasible,” Eachus said.
That’s just what the city plans to do. On Wednesday night, City Council’s Economic Development Committee recommended the city work with the Marietta Housing Authority to manage the demolition process, for a 5 percent management fee, when the two apartment complexes owned by the city become vacant.
City Council will vote on drafting that agreement at its meeting at April 9 at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 205 Lawrence St.
The city owns 50 contiguous acres on Franklin Road adjacent to Interstate 75. On Dec. 17, the city closed on the 386-unit, 25.2-acre Woodlands Park complex, which was put under contract for $7.9 million in late September.
Later that week, the city also closed on the 348-unit, 24.3-acre Flagstone Village Apartments, at 849 Franklin Road, bought from Atlanta-based TriTex Real Estate Advisors Inc. That property cost the city $12 million.
There are about 130 vacant units at each property, said Beth Sessoms, economic development manager for the city.
“We’re not really sure when it will be totally vacant, but we’re expecting sometime this fall,” Sessoms said.
Before the city can begin demolishing the properties once they are vacant, extensive abatement testing must take place.
Sessoms said beginning that process now before the complexes are totally empty will give the city the upper hand when it is ready to demolish the buildings.