Following a resolution adopted by the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority Monday, the decision heads to the Board of Commissioners for possible action.
The proposed district would include the tip of south Cobb, bordered by the Fulton and Douglas county lines to the south and Interstate 20. The district would include Six Flags Drive and Six Flags Road to the north and the Six Flags Over Georgia theme park.
Ed Richardson, chairman of the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority, said residents and businesses have complained about the Six Flags area for decades.
“South Cobb has been underinvested in — and certainly that quarter has been overlooked, so this is nothing new. It’s just that we have an opportunity now to take some real action,” Richardson said.
The plan is to issue $10 million in bond proceeds and use the higher taxes collected from the commercial and industrial property owners in the new district, as well as apartment complex owners, to pay off the debt.
Lee said in order to decide the new tax rate for the district, he and the four district commissioners would “have to sit down and talk about in more concrete terms: what it is they’re trying to accomplish and over what period of time.”
The county would authorize the use of the $10 million to buy blighted properties, demolish the aging structures and sell the properties, similar to what the city of Marietta is doing for the Franklin Road corridor.
Each property targeted by the group would need to be approved by the Board of Commissioners.
“That money will be used for the purchase of properties that are on blighted properties. In addition, we would be targeting the apartment communities that have the highest crime rates,” said Dana Johnson, Cobb County’s deputy director of community development.
The district would not be created until there were two public hearings in front of the county commissioners, Johnson said.
Commissioner Lisa Cupid, who represents south Cobb, said she hopes residents will be supportive.
“We’ve been trying since I came into office ... to identify a mechanism to redevelop that area, and I’m glad to see that we’ve finally found one that can work,” Cupid said.
Both Cupid and Lee think the district will be successful because it asks those inside the district, who will directly benefit from the redevelopment, to pay for those improvements.
“I think it’s a conservative way to approach this because the people who stand to benefit the most from the improvements we’ve been talking about are the ones that are going to pay for it,” Richardson said. “So, if you’re outside of the south Cobb district in another part of the county, they won’t be paying.”
This proposed district is similar to districts with increased taxes in other areas of Cobb County, such as the community improvement districts in Marietta, Cumberland and Town Center. These districts increase taxes on those inside the district to pay for roadwork or public safety improvements. One difference is that whereas property owners in CIDs agree to the tax, but commissioners would be approving the tax.
“There has been success in Marietta, Smyrna, Dunwoody and many others where they have an issue of declining apartment communities and its impact on the neighborhood — of finding a way of remediating that by removing some of the structures,” Johnson said. “I think the important part of that is learning from their successes and how they were able to stabilize an area through this method.”
Richardson said the new district will be an improvement for the whole county because south Cobb, which has long been an area with high crime, would become more like other areas of Cobb.
“Once crime is reduced in the Six Flags or the south Cobb quarter, the public safety resources that are responding to all those incidents — now we’ll have a better chance to more equitably redistribute those resources to other parts of the county,” Richardson said. “It’s the ultimate win, win: reduce crime and then everyone gets their fair share of public safety resources.”