Braves’ plans on table today for critical vote
by Jon Gillooly
July 15, 2014 04:00 AM | 1969 views | 6 6 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — This morning, the Cobb Board of Commissioners is scheduled to vote on a rezoning to allow the Atlanta Braves to build a $672 million stadium and $400 million mixed-use development down the road from Cumberland Mall.

The Cobb Planning Commission advised approving the request for the proposed 74-acre site in a 5-0 vote on July 1.

One of the stipulations the Cobb Planning Commission included as part of its recommendation was that the county and Braves implement a traffic and pedestrian parking plan prior to the stadium opening.

In his review of the plan, Jon Tuley with the Atlanta Regional Commission’s land use division, wrote in a June 9 memo that two critical things must occur for the project to be successful. One is that a proposed pedestrian bridge over I-285 connecting Cobb Galleria with the Braves development be completed.

The other is to have a shuttle system operating in the Cumberland area to get ticket holders to the stadium site.

“If the pedestrian bridge is not in place and circulator buses are not present, approximately 16,000 people (35 percent of all patrons who drive plus the 3 percent expected to take public transportation) will be required to cross Cobb Parkway to access the site …” Tuley writes, noting that will cause traffic delays.

County Chairman Tim Lee said those 16,000 people would not be crossing Cobb Parkway.

“Now, that’s not going to happen. It just can’t happen,” Lee said. “They have to paint a picture probably of the worst-case scenario and that’s not going to happen.”

The proposed 1-285 pedestrian bridge is in the design phase, Lee said.

“We’re trying to figure out where it should be and what it should be and what it should look like, and where it should start and where it should land,” he said.

How much it will cost, he said, has yet to be determined.

“All the funding buckets haven’t yet been identified in the transportation improvements just like they aren’t always identified when they have zonings and other zoning cases, but as we go through plan review, and we know exactly what the impact is, we’ll figure that all out,” Lee said.

Funding will come from outside the $672 million being used to build the stadium, Lee said.

“It has to be outside of that bucket because I think the $672 million, that has to be used for the stadium and the stadium proper,” Lee said. “You know, we might get a massive developer come in and want to do the whole thing and pay for everything. It’s hard to tell at this point.”

Last month, commissioners approved a contract with San Francisco-based URS Corporation to do a study on implementing a shuttle service for the Cumberland area at a cost of $445,010. The results of that study will tell commissioners how the shuttle service will work, Lee said.

“There’s a lot of work that still has to be done and there has to be some level of confidence that a company that is coming to Cobb County investing $1 billion and making a commitment for 30 years in writing and is leaving their current location because of two issues, parking and access, that over the course of the next two years we’re going to get that nailed down and get that nailed down well, so it isn’t an issue and it actually is an asset,” Lee said.

John Pederson, the county’s zoning division manager, said the transportation plan is required by the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority. He expects it will be in place six months prior to opening day.

“It’s not just Cobb DOT and the Braves doing the study,” Pederson said. “State DOT is going to be involved with that. The city of Marietta, city of Smyrna, city of Sandy Springs — there’s a lot of partners to this study.”

In its vote to recommend approving the rezoning, the Cobb Planning Commission agreed to a request from the Braves to increase the maximum impervious surface by 10 percent.

Pederson said the zoning district allows for 80 percent of a site to be impervious, whether that means it’s a parking lot, building or sidewalk.

“With this approval, Planning Commission is OK with going higher than 80 percent as long as that extra storm water is accounted for in the detention ponds. So the ponds will be bigger,” Pederson said.

The property is zoned general commercial, office high rise and office and institutional.

The Braves are requesting the property be rezoned regional retail commercial. The zoning classification is reserved for mixed-use developments exceeding 500,000 square feet in size and containing a combination of commercial uses, including office, retail and residential space.

The $400 million privately-owned development calls for:

• 630,000 square feet of Class A office space;

• 500,000 square feet of “upscale” retail space;

• 450 hotel rooms;

• 600 “luxury” multi-family residential units; and

• 100,000 square feet for a multi-use entertainment facility.

Comments
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Rich Pellegrino
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July 15, 2014
All of this proves two things:

1) Parking, transportation and traffic have not been worked out, they don't yet have a clue how it will be and they are spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer money just to try and figure this out....(before the bonds are approved to pay for any of this)

2) The costs for whatever they do are not included in the cost projections for the stadium and will have to be derived from increased taxes...another expose of the lie that taxes will not increase due to this boondoggle.

The more I learn of this whole deal (you should have been in court at the bond hearing to hear how little Chairmen Lee & Nix knew about this deal they have concocted--it was embarrassing to say the least--I wouldn't trust them with a dollar after that), the more I realize that they are working for the Braves and not the people. If we allow this to happen...well...I guess we will all be "Braves slaves".
HotinAtlanta
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July 15, 2014
Tim Lee is getting his pockets lined and this whole deal is criminal, underhanded and totally under the table. The whole BOC should be fired. Unfortunately, us tax payers are not being allowed to stop the deal and we are stuck. I'm so sick of the whole thing and plan a total boycott of the whole complex & retailers.
Church Streeter
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July 15, 2014
Rail. Not just for the stadium, but for the future of Cumberland and for the future of Cobb County. State Farm decided to locate its national headquarters, nearly 2 million SF of office, in Central Perimeter based largely in part on the fact that its site sits on top of MARTA. Imagine the boost to the county economy with another major HQ landing in our backyard. Imagine riding the train to work in Buckhead instead of battling rush hour...how much would you save in gas? $50/wk adds up to $2500/yr! Ride the train to the airport without worrying about parking or whom you'll have to ask to pick you up. The benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

As Metro-Atlanta continues to densify, no amount of roadwork infrastructure improvements will have the level of impact of a well connected rail system around the city.

Traffic will never improve, you will only grow to tolerate it.

Rail goes wrong way
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July 15, 2014
Rail to Atlanta will not help Braves traffic. Most season ticket holders live East or West of the stadium, not in Atlanta.

Remember the map of little red ticket holder dots? They are the folks we need to move and that's East - West.

HotinAtlanta
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July 15, 2014
"Tuley said a proposed pedestrian bridge over I-285 connecting Cobb Galleria with the Braves development should be completed..." Yeah well, three questions: 1)the Braves need to pay for this bridge out of their money, 2) where are they going to park, 3) why not contract with CCT to provide shuttle service? Galleria already said that people attending Braves games (or other venues) will NOT be allowed to park on their property (good for them). I totally agree with the owners of the Galleraia. They should not be allowed to take up customer/office parking for this at either the Galleria or Cumberland Mall. If they need a place to park, the Braves should be responsible to provide such parking.
Shuttle is Stuck
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July 15, 2014
The shuttle bus will be stuck in traffic, along with all the other cars. Shuttle is no solution.

When all those pedestrians are on the crosswalks across 41 no vehicles will move. The best roads in the world won't work if they are full of pedestrians.
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