The Kennesaw City Council will meet tonight to decide whether to approve conceptual plans for the construction of an estimated $26 million four-story, mixed-use building at the corner of Main Street and Watts Drive. Project designs include 9,000 square feet of street front retail space, 240 apartment units and 638 parking spaces.
Projects in the city’s central business district require approval from the Kennesaw Development Authority and Historic Preservation Commission prior to approval by the mayor and council. Each entity approved the project in June.
The council will meet at 6:30 p.m. tonight.
For years, the city has had its sights set on developing the 5-acre site which at present is mostly wooded. In 2008, much of the land was purchased from the Hamby family by the city and KDA, with the county buying adjacent property for a passive park.
Atlanta-based developer South City Partners has been in discussions with the city to purchase the land for approximately $2.1 million, plus accrued interest up to closing.
Mayor Mark Mathews said the deal would be a good one for the city because it meets two pressing needs: economic development and parking.
“One of the key defining issues with our downtown is the lack of parking,” said Mathews. “As a result, it has been the vision of the city for any project developed on the Main Street at Watts Drive property would incorporate a parking deck.”
South City Partners Director John Long said approximately 45 percent of parking at the development would be designated for public use.
No commercial tenants have been lined up for the development, said Long, whose company is also behind the Sanctuary at Kennesaw housing development under construction on Cherokee Street at McCollum Parkway.
The apartment homes – designed to condominium specifications – will be one- and two-bedroom units priced in the $700 to $1,600 a month range, he said. He said the building would be composed of a series of brick- and lap siding-fronted sections with a circa 1900 look, designed to blend in with the surrounding architecture of downtown.
The Preston Partnership, an Atlanta-based design firm, came up with the design plans.
At four-stories tall, the building would noticeably stand out among the predominantly two- and three-story structures that make up the central business district.
Darryl Simmons, the city’s planning and zoning administrator, said the proposed project falls within the city’s height guidelines, as evidence by its approval by the Historic Preservation Commission.
“Because it’s in a historic district, it has to be a certain height that’s compatible with adjacent property and the scale that’s been established by downtown Main Street,” Simmons said.
“This is not the first project that shows four-stories that the city has approved. We look at each proposal on its own merit and this is going to be a dynamic project for downtown that’s much anticipated and much needed to promote redevelopment for downtown.”
If approved by city officials, the project could be on track to begin construction as soon as the first quarter of 2013 and take between 12 and 16 months to complete, said Long.
“Kennesaw’s got a big focus on making a livable downtown and we just love the idea of being apart of that,” Long said.
Mathews said the project fits into the overall plan for growth he has for the city.
“In addition to parking, our downtown is in need for retail/commercial/restaurant, as well as in-town living,” he said.
“All of these needs are also being addressed in the plan. To summarize, the concept being considered should meet the desired vision of the city, and if approved, can move to the next steps.”