IT’S ONE DOWN, one to go and another yet to come for Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin’s makeover of the Franklin Road corridor. And what’s to follow?
Tumlin was at the controls of a construction excavator for the ceremonial first whack at the 386-unit Woodlands Park Apartment, which the city bought for $11 million and is now razing. Next up for a date next week with the bulldozers is the 348 Flagstone Village complex it bought for $13.3 million. It bought and demolished the 200-unit Preston Chase complex back in 2010.
And the city is in serious negotiations for a fourth complex on Franklin, although the mayor declined to disclose which one it is.
The city plans to clear all those properties, then sell or lease them for redevelopment.
“You know you’re not going to get what you pay for them, but you hope for the ‘halo effect,’” the mayor said. “And as you tear down some, the others get more competitive,” in terms of cleaning up their properties to be attractive to renters or buyers.
The city has been showing off the properties to a variety of parties and is said to be in serious talks about the future of one of the sites.
But as with the identity of the apartment complex the city is considering buying, the mayor declined to ID the potential buyer or buyers.
“A lot of quality people are looking at it. But you’ve gotta see the whites of their eyes” on a contract first, he told Around Town late this week.
THE FRANKLIN corridor, long plagued by crime and transiency, was the target of a $68 million redevelopment bond approved by Marietta voters in 2013.
Its proximity to I-75 makes it potentially very attractive, as does the unexpected nearness of the Atlanta Braves in their new SunTrust Park for the 2017 season. The interstate exits that serve Franklin Road are busy but a bit on the blighted side when compared with those just to the south in the Galleria area and those just to the north in the Town Center area. But that is expected to change.
“This is the new frontier, like they say on ‘Star Trek,’” the mayor told AT.
“So does that make you Captain Kirk?” we asked Tumlin. “And who does it make Spock? (Councilman) Philip Goldstein?”
“I like having his good brain on it,” the mayor replied about Goldstein, with whom he has sometimes feuded.
THE CITY had its eye on five or six complexes, but due to rising prices since the Braves’ announcement, will settle for just four or five, the mayor said.
“We don’t have a contract on any of the others, but there’s hardly a one that we haven’t had a conversation with (about buying),” he said. “Some of them shut the door on our face, but others have said to ‘come back next year.’”
And even though prices have gone up thanks to the Braves, there’s a silver lining, the mayor said.
“Ironically, if it raises the value of the apartments and shopping centers there on Franklin, it will probably mean that whatever eventually replaces them is more valuable, too,” he said.
He originally had hoped to replace the complexes with something along the lines of a UPS distribution center, he said. Now he’s aiming higher — and is sure to get it because even taking the Braves’ move into account, land prices will still be cheaper along Franklin than in the Galleria or Town Center areas.
“It’s almost like a dream. It’s almost like it’s 1970 again,” he said. “I wish I’d had the bond money during the recession in 2010. They’d have been knocking on the door.”
THE MAYOR was still almost giddy on Thursday after taking part in the Woodlands Park demolition the day before.
“The optimism was there yesterday like you never saw before, that you could sit in a bulldozer and knock a building down and say, ‘This is really happening!’” he said.
“I’m even more convinced today than I was two years ago that this is gonna work.”
EVENTS: The “Tim Lee Tribute” dinner/fundraiser at the Marietta Hilton on Tuesday drew 230 people, said organizers. Among attendees were retired Sheriff Bill Hutson, D.A. Vic Reynolds, Superior Court Judge Tain Kell, Chief Magistrate Judge Joyette Holmes, NAACP head Deane Bonner, state Sen. Lindsey Tippins, state Rep. Bert Reeves, KSU economics prof Dr. Roger Tutterow and retired Georgia Supreme Court Justice Conley Ingram, who pinch-hit for Marietta First United Methodist Church pastor the Rev. Sam Matthews when it came time to do the invocation.
None of Lee’s fellow commissioners was present.
Among those touting Lee in a taped tribute shown to the crowd were U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson of east Cobb, former Cobb Commission Chairman Earl Smith, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens and the Rev. Matthews.
ATLANTA BRAVES Executive VP Mike Plant recalled for the crowd some of the details of his initial three-hour lunch with Lee, who he’d never met, at the Marietta Country Club that laid the groundwork for the team’s move here.
“I remember like it happened yesterday,” Plant said. “He asked me three different times, wanting to make sure we weren’t using Cobb to leverage a better deal somewhere else. I assured him we were not, that Cobb was not a stalking horse for a better deal.
“To this day, we have developed a very solid level of trust,” continued Plant, with what some might read as a veiled jab at Atlanta officials. “He changed my perception of a lot of political leaders because of the way he reacted at looking at this business opportunity — not for himself but for the people of Cobb. …”
“I consider him a friend, and I can’t say there’s another person in such a short period that I would trust like I trust him, yet who is a transparent doer who makes things work,” said Plant, his voice seeming to grow hoarse. “He could be doing a lot better in the private world, but he cares about the people here, and I care about him.”
HOMES FOR OUR TROOPS will ceremonially break ground at 9:15 a.m. next Saturday (June 13) for a specially adapted home for retired Marine Capt. Cameron West. The Acworth native lost a leg, an eye and suffered severe damage to his right hand and his other leg after an IED was triggered while he was leading his platoon against Taliban fighters in Afghanistan in 2010.
The event will take place at Frey Elementary on Mars Hill Road.
KARDASHIAN WATCH: From former MDJ columnist Laura Armstrong, commenting on Bruce Jenner’s coming out this week as “Caitlyn”: “Why would Bruce want to be an old woman rather than an older man? Why?”