Citing crime in area, need for job growth, most support Franklin Road redo
by Rachel Miller
September 08, 2013 12:24 AM | 6001 views | 11 11 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Nearly all candidates running for mayor and City Council support the proposed $68 million redevelopment bond, citing crime and the need for job growth along the city’s Franklin Road corridor.

In July, the Marietta City Council, with a push by Mayor Steve Tumlin, approved placing the bond on the Nov. 5 ballot for residents to vote if the city should redevelop the depressed area that is home to a dozen aging apartment complexes.

When asked if the project should get the support of voters, Tumlin said, “Capital Y-E-S, YES.”

Tumlin said Franklin Road, which lies between Cobb Parkway and Interstate 75, has amazing potential as a major corridor, like Town Center north of Marietta and Cobb Galleria Centre in Cumberland.

The city’s goal is to lower the residential density on Franklin Road by buying and razing run-down apartments and then packaging the land in 25-acre lots for the development of commercial buildings offering 50,000 to 100,000 square feet of space.

“We need tracts of land near (Interstate) 75 on that magical corridor,” Tumlin said.

Tumlin said he already knows of one apartment building in foreclosure, Flagstone Village at 849 Franklin Road.

The mayor said the project is being started by the city because “sometimes you have to help yourself and bring in jobs,” and the end result will have a positive impact on the whole county.

Even though “the city hasn’t always hit a home run” with development ventures, Tumlin said he has “talked to more developers in the last eight weeks than ever before.”

Tumlin’s opponent, Charley Levinson, said the Franklin Road portion of the bond needs to be scrapped entirely.

“It is fundamentally wrongheaded to push thousands of working families out of their homes, and have city taxpayers undertake a huge financial risk, all so land developers can enjoy guaranteed profits,” Levinson said.

Levinson does support putting sidewalks along Whitlock Avenue. The bond allocates $4 million for improvements in that area.

If voters do not pass the $68 million redevelopment bond, then “property owners may get their tax cut after all. There are worse scenarios by far,” Levinson said.

Unopposed officials give support

Councilman Grif Chalfant said Franklin Road is “totally infested with crime” and something must be done to lessen the negative affect on Marietta.

“Almost every day we see drug and prostitution crime in that area,” Chalfant said.

If the $68 million bond is approved by voters, Chalfant said his priority would be to make Franklin Road a green-tech corridor to attract green energy and technology businesses.

“The businesses would be able to use the brain power coming from the universities,” Chalfant said about Franklin Road’s proximity to Southern Polytechnic State University and Georgia Tech.

Chalfant said Whitlock Avenue is another blighted area that has gotten worse over time because of the lack of attention by the City Council that was given to other roads like Roswell Street.

“I feel like we have neglected Whitlock Avenue over the years with our SPLOST money,” Chalfant said.

Johnny Walker, a real estate agent who is running unopposed for Councilman Johnny Sinclair’s seat, said the redevelopment bond is the “best thing for the city.”

“I can envision a new little town there,” with retail places, office complexes, a park and housing, Walker said. “A really nice mixed use to attract people to live in Marietta.”

Walker said the high crime rate on Franklin Road puts a strain on the police and fire departments.

Transient families in the area do not have a safe, consistent home, and “hear gunshots every night,” according to Walker.

To help the Marietta City School System, Walker said it is important for the city to find somewhere else for people on Franklin Road to live and help them relocate.

Challengers split

Stuart Fleming, a Marietta Board of Education member who is running against Councilwoman Annette Lewis for Ward 1, said he supports the “spirit of the bond.”

But Fleming cautioned that money alone will not solve the “social and economic challenges on Franklin Road.”

Fleming said a defined master plan for the $68 million redevelopment project needs to be worked out quickly.

“I believe the taxpayer has every right and expectation to know what their dollars will be spent on,” Fleming said.

Fleming said he is not biased about what type of company should move into Franklin Road, but “Marietta has a history of not being as business friendly as other cities, and now is the time to change that.”

Lewis, who has served on the council since 2006, refused to reveal how she will vote, although she did say she was glad residents would determine whether the bond passes or fails.

Marshall Dye, who served on the Marietta Board of Zoning Appeals for seven years and is running in Ward 4 against Councilman Andy Morris, is backing the redevelopment bond without reservations.

Dye lives on tree-lined Church Street, a historic district that he says is negatively affected by the blighted area.

“It is hard to have a great city when you have a street like Franklin Road that is the most dangerous street in Cobb County,” Dye said. “It is not going to fix itself.”

Once the apartments are razed, Dye said they will be replaced by better apartments to allow young professionals to move into the city.

“I believe (the current residents of Franklin Road) will be given a better opportunity to live in a safer and more flourishing environment, in other areas of the community,” Dye said.

Undecided candidates

Michelle Cooper Kelly, a member of the Marietta Housing Authority who is running for retiring Councilman Jim King’s Ward 6 seat, said she is still learning about the redevelopment bond and was not involved in the conversations that first began with the City Council.

“I think it would be irresponsible to make a judgment when I am still learning how this bond would be implemented,” Kelly said.

Kelly said the project needs to be a private-public partnership to create a safe place for businesses to operate and invest in Marietta.

“I know for sure that if we want to move the city forward, (Franklin Road) is an area that has to be addressed,” Kelly said.

Councilman Anthony Coleman, who voted against the redevelopment bond being doubled in size from $35 million to $68 million July 10, said he is also undecided.

Coleman said he has not given the plan for improvements on Franklin Road “much thought yet,” but said “the private sector needs to kick in.”

“It should not be all on the backs of the taxpayers,” Coleman said.

Coleman is being challenged by Doug Martin. Martin said he not only supports the bond, but is telling all residents to push it forward.

“We all need to support (the redevelopment bond) and get behind the mayor,” Martin said.

Martin said the $68 million bond is forward thinking and will bring economic opportunity to Marietta.

“I want to prepare the 5th Ward as much as I can to take advantage of whatever comes down the chute,” Martin said.

Morris and Councilman Philip Goldstein did not return calls or emails by press time.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
September 10, 2013
So the City of Smyrna buys Hickory Lake and razes it. The City of Marietta wants to buy Franklin Road and raze it. What about the rest of the dump areas of Cobb County? Who buys the Cobb part of Six Flags and Fulton Industrial, and the list goes on. And what are you accomplishing by buying all these dumps and razing them, other than relocating lizards to another lizard location for a city or county to buy up and raz in 5 years? I don't get it. Teach the lizards how to obey the law or lock them up. Teach the lizards to respect their surroundings or evict them. Lawd. What seems so elementary to me seems to county officials to be "buy it up, relocate the lizards, tear it down." Keep in mind, all of these USED TO BE NICE PLACES TO LIVE. Has anyone considered somebody needs to look at why this happens over and over and over and over? All of these areas were not always "blighted," you know. We, the people that pay taxes, need to speak loudly about why the county's code enforcement and law enforcement can't prevent this from happening over and over. All you do by buyin' and razin' and relocatin' is moving the problem from point A to point B.
September 10, 2013
Are you really this dim? It's about realizing the best use of the property, dummy. When the land is zoned commercial, which it should be, the tax revenue will skyrocket. Back 30 years ago, the best use was residential, today it's industrial. Please, no more posting from you, or stick with reading comic books.
September 09, 2013
I thought Steve was chamber guy this fly’s in the face of high density mantra for light rail and high raises. The real problem is the American tax structure and a seven year writes off for buildings once the tax value is gone it’s flipped and the bottom feeders come in. Section eight people are being dumped into good neighborhoods and the crime rate is up and property values are going down. Welcome to the Democrats new America social engineers at its best and the so-called minorities will still only socialize with their own as they do at work or anywhere else it’s a one way black club.
move them first
September 09, 2013
In order to avoid repeating the mistakes of the Atlanta Olympics and displacing the poorest residents around the city, how about we buy some crappy apartment complexes in other cities, renovate them into low-end family-size condos, and then GIVE these condos to the Frankln Rd residents to ensure they are gone and don't come back to haunt us?

Sure they will take out home equity loans and get themselves evicted within two years, but by that point, they will be the probem of wherever they went!

How about we start with Dunwoody? We could pretend to want to bulid an office tower, buy a couple crappy old apartments around Dundoody, renovate them, then give them to Franklin Rd people just for moving there. We can even get a moving company to move them.

After everyone's gone, then we can talk about how to move forward. I say "Decatur next!"

Marietta isn't going to become a destination without some help.. We have plenty of grenades living on Franklin. Toss them around the desirable destinations in the city and we become instantly more desirable (or perhaps less undesirable but it's an improvement).
September 10, 2013
You hit the nail on the head, move them first. I have watched my community "die" because people purchased that in the first place could not afford to purchase. Then, they got in here and had a mortgage and a piece of property, so they signed up for more debt by taking second mortgages and home equity (when there was such a thing) loans. Then they rented out the property here because some stupid bank lent them more money to buy even more property they couldn't afford. They rented out--did not maintain the property that became rental in my neighborhood--and when the money train ran out, all filed bankruptcy. And left property in my neighborhood with holes in roofs, rotting siding from water leaks, etc., but have been able to maintain their "better" houses they bought because it is their "primary residence." Something has gone very, very, very wrong with America. Very wrong. Very wrong. I repeat, very wrong. It is like irresponsibility and crime are rewarded somehow.
Poor & Alone
September 08, 2013
Why aren't we discussing helping the people who live on Franklin Rd. It sounds like we are planning to evict people who have enough problems on their hands to fill many lifetimes. Is anyone standing up to speak for them?
September 10, 2013
What? Helping the people on Franklin Road? I bet you could gather the people that pay taxes there in an old telephone booth and still have room left over. I bet you could gather the people that have Peach Cards, EBT, disability checks, and fatherless children into the Georgia Dome and would still run out of space. What problems do they have? Dropping out of school? Having children like rabbits without two parents? The problem of getting caught while committing crimes? I will stand up and speak for them. Stop making babies you cannot afford to feed. Condoms are a whole lot cheaper than formula. Graduate at least from high school. Exactly what problems are you referring to about people getting evicted "who have enough problems on their hands to fill many families?" I absolutely agree with you, however, this element of society does nothing but blame...and keep their hands out. None of them, and I mean none of them, want to accept responsibility for themselves. It reminds me of the Katrina "victims" that still to this day, how many years later, are blaming their miserable lives and government dependance on "Katrina," after they have received years of assistance from the government.
September 08, 2013
How could someone ruining for City Council still be undecided on this? The only way is that they've not been paying attention for the past 4 months. And this is our next council woman?? The largest issue to face our city in the history of Marietta - and someone still hasn't made up their mind. I think she does know how she'll vote (no), and does not want to say publicly. That's ok- if you're against it say so!
September 08, 2013
Ah, these wonderful, airy plans, all with someone else's money! How much better does it get? And now my hands are really shaking, just saw where they are beginning to laser onto Whitlock Avenue. As for Franklin Road, which is riddled with crime, etc, may I ask where you all plan to locate these lovely people? Since they probably won't be able to afford the new digs, will the city have to pay for their "rehoming" too? Is it too much to ask that someone connected with all of this have a modicum of common sense?
September 09, 2013
Oh, and YOU know Franklin Road is the ONLY place they can afford to live? What a buffoon you are! I can name 5 other apartments complexes that charge the same rent in much safer neighborhoods.
September 10, 2013
They will get tax money to move into refurbished housing nicer than many tax paying people live in, only to tear that up in a year, and we will then be discussing not Franklin Road but another location, and this cycle will repeat itself as it has in years past many times over, before the government finally says, "get off your behind and make your own way."
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