MARIETTA — Franklin Gateway residents could soon be getting some new neighbors.
The Marietta Planning Commission is expected to hear July 2 from Atlanta-based Revive Land Group, which hopes to build a 150-unit town home community adjacent to the old Marietta Flea Market property now owned by the city.
The property sits at just over 12 acres, which would give the development a density of 12.4 units per acre. That’s slightly higher than other town home developments approved by the city, according to a report by city staff. The highest density town home community is the Registry at Marietta Square with a density of 11.8 units per acre on a tract of 1.02 acres.
The highest number of town homes in a development approved by the city right now is 99.
The homes are set to be three stories tall, have floor areas ranging from 1,800 to 2,400 square feet and include three or four bedroom units, according to Kenneth Wood, president of land planning at engineering firm Planners and Engineers Collaborative.
“The new homes will range in price from $300,000 to $400,000 and will supply middle-housing targeted at first-time homebuyers and empty-nesters,” Wood wrote in a letter of intent to the city’s department of development services.
The property, which is owned by former Cobb County government attorney Dorothy “Dottie” Bishop’s family, currently contains three single-family houses, a barn and a concrete building. It is southwest of the corner of Franklin Gateway and South Marietta Parkway where the nearly-empty strip mall once anchored by the Marietta Flea Market sits.
The city purchased about seven acres, including the mall, in 2017 for $5.8 million. The purchase was part of Marietta’s efforts to redevelop the Franklin Gateway corridor with funds from a $68 million voter-approved bond.
The idea was to buy up blighted property and sell it to developers at a loss with the understanding that the new projects would bring higher property values and lower crime rates.
Marietta Development Director Rusty Roth said the city has been working with the last remaining tenant of the strip mall, a Hispanic grocery, which is expected to move out soon. He said while the city has heard from some interested parties, none have made a specific proposal yet.
Mayor Steve Tumlin said he is waiting to hear from the developers and the planning commission, but is optimistic for now that the project will be a good fit.
He said some in the city were hoping to develop the two properties together as one package. He doesn’t think the proposed town home development will affect the city’s efforts to sell the flea market property other than probably ruling out another residential development there.
“There were people looking, trying to combine them both, but maybe being developed separately will be fine,” he said. “It can’t hurt the flea market. It gives less flexibility, but it still can be a dynamic entrance to the city, to Franklin Gateway, and it will probably be all commercial this way.”
Roth agreed, saying whether or not the planned town homes move forward will likely not have an impact on the city’s efforts to sell the land.
“City staff does not anticipate that the proposed residential development will impact the marketing (of the) flea market property,” he said. “We would continue to look for a retail, office or mixed-use user.”
Tumlin said denser developments make more sense in a place like Franklin Gateway than in other places in the city. Several apartment complexes along Franklin Gateway already have densities of around 16 units per acre.
“Density is a relative term,” Tumlin said. “There’s a place for it and a place for not. This type of project would not work on Maple Avenue or on Polk Street, as we found out. In this area, it’s more conducive.”
Tumlin was referencing a controversial Polk Street project which was withdrawn by developers at last week’s council meeting after residents pushed back over worries about density and traffic.
The matter is scheduled to be discussed by the planning commission July 2 at 6 p.m. and by the full City Council July 10 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.