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.