Plant, executive vice president of business operations with the Braves, filled the open seat on the seven-member board for Post 5. The seat was previously held by Trey Parrish, who represented Bethesda, Md.-based B.F. Saul Co., the previous owner of the property the Braves purchased in January for its new stadium and mixed-use area to be completed in 2017.
Cumberland CID Chairman Tad Leithead said it was a natural decision to nominate Plant for the open seat because the Braves’ land is located entirely inside the Cumberland CID and will increase the land’s value, Leithead said.
“The Braves have suddenly become one of the largest property owners in the district,” Leithead said. “Our board members tend to be the large commercial property owners because they represent the lion’s share of the property taxes.”
The Cumberland CID taxes its commercial property owners at a voluntary 5 mills in addition to the county property tax. It collects about $5.5 million in revenue each year, and in return, the board uses the revenue to provide infrastructure improvements in the district.
Other members of the board also represent large property owners in the area. John Shern, vice chairman of the board, is a retired vice president of construction for the Home Depot. Board member Connie Engel is a partner in Childress Klein Properties. Treasurer Barry Teague represents Walton Communities LLC and member Mason Zimmerman is a senior vice president at Pope and Land Enterprises, Inc. Member Bob Voyles is CEO of Seven Oaks Company, a commercial real estate firm.
“A land owner, a property owner, of the size of the Braves, should be on our board,” Leithead said.
The Cumberland CID agreed to pay $10 million toward the Braves project at the request of Cobb County, and Leithead said the CID settled a payment plan with the county this week.
The CID will pay the sum in installments of $2.5 million for four years, and the first will be due at the end of 2014. Leithead said the commitment was a valid use of CID revenue because it will go toward improving transportation and facilities for public parks.
The 82-acre land development project of the Braves will enhance the surrounding area, Plant said, and he saw the opportunity to become a member of the Cumberland CID board as a way to help the project along.
“We have a huge vested interest in being a part of the CID. We are aware of the history of what this CID has done in a positive way to create a lot of impact and energy to improve the city’s areas, and we’re kind of right in the heart of it,” Plant said.
One example of the CID’s ability to secure funding is the $2.4 million grant it received from the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank on Wednesday to go toward the diverging diamond project on Windy Hill Road.
As the Braves build a new home in Cobb County for the next 30 years, Plant said he will use his position to work as a team with the rest of the board. He doesn’t have any more interest in using CID funds for his own project than any other land-owning member, Plant said.
“We’re not here to self promote,” It’s not a self-serving interest at all,” Plant said.
The rest of the board expressed their approval and excitement to welcome Plant after a brief election of members that resulted in the reinstatement of all other representatives on the board for three more years.
“We are thrilled to have you here,” Voyles said.
Leithead said he has confidence in Plant’s skills.
“Mike is a very sophisticated businessman. He has a very practical approach to business,” Leithead said. “He’ll bring a real great perspective on some of the decisions we make about how to allocate funds and what projects to invest in.”
Plant addressed some recent critiques from the public and the media that have accused the Braves of an underhanded deal with the county because it does not make a promise to build the mixed-use development around the stadium in multiple contracts with the county.
“I can assure that we didn’t move from the objective we had downtown, which was to build a destination which couldn’t be accomplished, to here to not do that,” Plant said. “So I would just tell you with all confidence that that is going to happen.”
The election and voting process for the seven members of the board — who serve three-year terms — was over in a little more than five minutes. Each member was re-elected with a unanimous vote because there were no competitors for any of the positions, including the open seat Plant is now filling.