Councilman Philip Goldstein confirmed to Around Town late this week that he and his son, Joseph, are in lease negotiations with the Seattle-based coffee giant to open a Starbucks in the former Krystal restaurant just off Marietta Square that Joseph purchased last month.
“Of all the people that have talked to me since we purchased the building, the most frequent suggestion by far for the property was that we put a Starbucks there,” Goldstein told Around Town on Friday.
That was Starbucks’ thinking as well, he added. Representatives of the coffee chain contacted the Goldsteins the same day they closed on the property (Aug. 16), he said.
The company had sought other locations downtown in recent years but had not been able to find one as suitable or that would accommodate drive-through traffic, he said.
It’s obvious why the site would be attractive to Starbucks, as it is on the corner of Whitlock Avenue and Marietta Parkway, both of which are state roads and which typically are choked with traffic. And it would be just a short walk from the Square itself.
The nearest Starbucks to downtown at present stands just north of WellStar Kennestone Hospital just south of the Interstate 75 ramp. There also are Starbucks on Dallas Highway in west Cobb, Powder Springs Road in southwest Cobb, Roswell Road in east Cobb and in the Galleria area, but they are at least three or four miles away.
“They’d been interested in finding a site in Marietta for several years,” City Manager Bill Bruton told AT. “When they were talking to us about the site at the hospital they also were interested in finding a site near the Square, too.”
Bruton said the store would be owned by the Starbucks Corporation, not a franchisee.
Starbucks declined comment for this column, but released a statement from spokesman Warner Walker through Goldstein that said, “We can confirm that we obviously are looking to develop the site and are very excited about potentially serving the Marietta Square area.”
STARBUCKS would “re-skin” the existing building, giving it a brick and stucco exterior and new roof. It has applied to the city’s Historic Board of Review, for approval of those changes. Also requested is approval for metal furniture for a patio area. The HBR will consider the requests when it meets Oct. 1 at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall.
It’s hard to say what kind of reception it will get. The approvals for the Walgreen’s directly across Whitlock from the proposed Starbucks proved highly contentious and dragged on interminably as city leaders, preservationists and the public argued about the appropriateness of the proposed façade of the pharmacy and its desire for a drive-through. The resulting building, however, is an asset to downtown and a vast improvement over what was there before.
In addition, the Walgreen’s was a brand new building, and Starbucks is merely requesting a modification of an existing building. Moreover, the result would look far better than the empty building there now. It’s also probable that a Starbucks would generate much more in sales tax revenue than its predecessor did.
There may be some who predict that adding such a popular store will exacerbate traffic or cause it to spill out onto the street. But the renderings that accompanied the HBR application show that traffic flow through the store’s property might be improved. Krystal drive-through patrons had to exit directly onto the Loop. Starbucks customers would have the options of exiting northbound onto the parkway, circling back to the front of the building or exiting either way on Whitlock.
THE KRYSTAL opened in the early 1970s as Marietta Parkway was being constructed and shut its doors in April after the chain chose not to sign a new 20-year-lease with then-owner F.C. Brooks Sr. for the .54-acre property. As with the reported plans by Starbucks, the restaurant was owned by Krystal, not a franchisee.
Goldstein, a student at the University of Georgia, purchased the site for $800,000. His family is the largest private property owner in downtown Marietta.
STARBUCKS’ ABSENCE from the Square has not meant that downtown has been java-free all these years. In fact, its probable arrival sets up a possible “Caffeine War” between it and Cool Beans, which is just a two or three-minute stroll away across the railroad tracks. The independently owned CB has a large and loyal base of supporters fond of both its java and its bohemian atmosphere. While the Starbucks would likely draw heavily from west Cobb commuters traveling the Whitlock corridor, Cool Beans is more apt to continue serving “the courthouse crowd,” downtown shoppers and those jaded by the cookie-cutter coffee shop experience. Cool Beans is not a Goldstein tenant, BTW. Its landlord is dentist Dr. Arva Lumpkin.
Goldstein, for one, downplays the possibility of any such “war.”
“They serve different niches,” said Goldstein, who was calling by cell phone from a trip in Charlotte, N.C. “Cool Beans is one and Starbucks is another. Within a three-block radius of where I’m standing right now are six different coffee shops. People like coffee.”
That, they do. And we suspect there’s enough unslaked desire for caffeine to keep both coffee shops — and even several more — in business for years to come.
GOV. NATHAN DEAL could be looking at not just a “two-fer” but a “three-fer” if he plays his cards right at the Cobb Courthouse.
Deal will choose the successor for Cobb Superior Court Judge George Kreeger, who has just five working days left before his retirement Sept. 30. Courthouse chatter has revolved around the possibility that Deal might promote a current Cobb State Court judge to the Superior Court position, thereby creating a second judgeship opening that he can fill.
Twenty-eight people have been nominated to succeed Kreeger, and the state’s Judicial Nominating Commission will narrow that number down to five finalists from whom Deal will make his choice. The Commission reportedly will decide on its “short list” on Monday.
Among the 28 nominees are State Court Judges Eric Brewton, Roland Castellanos (whose term expires at year’s end and who will be succeeded by Marsha Lake), Maria Golick and Rob Leonard, as well as Cobb State Court Solicitor Barry Morgan. But were Deal to promote one of those judges to Superior Court, and then appoint Morgan as State Court judge, he would thereby create an additional opening he could fill with an appointee of his choice — hence, the “three-fer.”
Making judicial appointments is a clear “fringe benefit” of being governor. They not only allow him to stock the state’s courtrooms with judges who share his judicial philosophy, but help him expand his base of those who owe him political fealty. Judgeships are electoral positions, but more often than not judges resign or retire before their terms end in order for the governor to choose their successor.
Morgan announced in summer 2011 that he planned to retire as solicitor when his term expires at the end of 2014, by which time he’ll be 60.
THE ARMY AVIATION HERITAGE FOUNDATION is offering rides on a Vietnam-era Bell Huey UH-1H helicopter today at the Marietta Museum of History’s Aviation Wing. The chopper is in town in connection with the annual conference of the Vietnam 68th Assault Helicopter Company Association at the Marietta Hilton this weekend. Cost for the rides is $60 per person.
THE EARL SMITH STRAND THEATRE’S fall fundraiser will be “STRANDelicious,” a progressive dinner in the facility Oct. 18 with food from 15 downtown restaurants, live entertainment on the rooftop terrace. Tickets are $75 and include a three-course meal, reports spokeswoman Becky Paden.
For more call (770) 293-0080.
AND WE CLOSE THE BOOK on this week’s edition of Around Town with a salute to the Rev. Dr. Nelson Price. The pastor of emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist donated his personal library of more than 6,000 books, including 60 different versions of the Bible, to Shorter University in Rome. He also gave 20 years worth of audio and video tapes of his sermons, plus copies of the 17 books he wrote.
The Nelson and Trudy Price Learning Center was dedicated Sept. 14 and no doubt will come in handy to students there for years to come. As for Dr. Price, it sounds like he now has plenty of empty shelves to start re-filling.