Marietta City Council mulls action on downtown real estate development
by Rachel Miller
September 01, 2013 12:02 AM | 3674 views | 3 3 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jeff Kingsfield,  president of  the Atlanta Division of John Wieland Home LLC, points out some of the traffic flow options Thursday that the homebuilder has planned for a stalled residential area two blocks from the Marietta Square, between Wayland and Waterman streets. Listening in to the discussion is Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin City Councilman Anthony Coleman and John Wieland. <br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Jeff Kingsfield, president of the Atlanta Division of John Wieland Home LLC, points out some of the traffic flow options Thursday that the homebuilder has planned for a stalled residential area two blocks from the Marietta Square, between Wayland and Waterman streets. Listening in to the discussion is Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin City Councilman Anthony Coleman and John Wieland.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
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After eight years of sitting idle, the development of 12 acres of prime real estate near downtown should be approved by the City Council in a couple of weeks, Mayor Steve Tumlin said.

Smyrna-based John Wieland Homes wants to purchase the land dubbed Meeting Park on the south side of Roswell Street between the Cobb County Central Library and the Square from Walton Communities.

The plans reviewed by the City Council on Wednesday outlined 111 units, with 48 single-family detached homes, eight duplexes and 55 townhomes. All options will be between 2,000 square feet and slightly greater than 3,000 square feet.

John Wieland, who started his company in 1970, said construction could start in January on the mixed-use village with 10.88 acres of residential and almost one acre of commercial space.

Wieland said the road infrastructure and the utility lines already exist from previous efforts to develop the land. With much of the network in place, Wieland said the goal is to move fast and be done in two and a half years.

Tumlin said he did not expect any hold up by the City Council, who will discuss the plan in more detail Sept. 9, with a possible vote at the Sept. 11 meeting.

Tumlin added that he was excited to see the enthusiasm for the space from Wieland, and that the city is lucky to have his company developing the neighborhood.

Jeff Kingsfield, president of the Atlanta Division of John Wieland Homes, said the company has been quiet about the plans because, once the public finds out about the project, there will be a high demand.

“Selling the units will not be an issue,” Kingsfield said.

Tumlin said there is a high chance of success for economic development at Meeting Park.

“People love this area,” Tumlin said.

Detailed plans

The single-family homes will most likely be priced in the $400,000s and are on 40-foot-wide lots, according to Kingsfield.

The four-story townhomes will start in the $300,000s, but will reach the upper $400,000s for ones with mountain views or that overlook downtown.

The exterior of the homes will be cedar, stucco, brick and stone, according to the plans submitted to city staff. There also is a 0.5 acre space on the west side of the property off Waddell Street for a future pool or community garden.

Kingsfield said the architecture of Meeting Park will be designed to match the culture of Marietta’s more traditional feel, not a modern look.

He added, even though urban residential developments can be dense, “with thoughtful design, you can have privacy.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, the City Council addressed concerns by staff that the public roads in the plan did not meet city code requirements of a 50-foot wide right of way.

Councilman Philip Goldstein said he would “have a problem accepting substandard roads.”

Other developments the council has approved designated narrow roads inside a new development as private access alleys.

Bryan Musolf, director of Land Acquisition for John Wieland Homes, told to the council if the roads had to be private then “we are going to gate” the neighborhood.

Councilman Anthony Coleman, who represents the district where Meeting Park is placed, said he wants to keep the roads public so the new neighborhood is tied to the rest of the community.

“You want to be inclusive, not exclusive,” Coleman said.

Tumlin said he does not see the narrow roads as a problem because the streets would not have major traffic passing through.

History of development

The site will border a curved street north of Waterman Street and that was first developed before World War II as a 132-unit public housing project called Clay Homes.

After demolishing the aged public housing, the Marietta Housing Authority sold the site to a private developer.

In 2005, Winter Properties of Atlanta was approved by the City Council to build a $100 million development with condominiums and retail space. In the end, Winter Properties only built 15 townhomes of the planned 300 units at Meeting Park before foreclosing on the property in 2010.

The property was purchased by Walton Communities but has not been further developed.

Compared to the plans by Winter Properties, John Wieland Homes is offering fewer units and more parking, with 96 on-street spaces. Combined with the garages in the Meeting Park homes, there are 86 more parking spots than required by the city code.

Tumlin said new plans for Meeting Park should be “very acceptable” to immediate neighbors who want to keep the lots residential. Wieland said their development will not increase the footprint of past designs.

Wieland said his company has been attracted to the land for years.

“We have been looking at this piece of land for 10 years,” Wieland said. “We are thrilled to be the winners this time around.”

There are eight homes on the eastside of the property behind a large tree line that have been owned by the same residents since 2005. Tumlin said he expects those residents will voice any concerns to the council.

Mixed-use space

Plans for the front of the property include placeholders for two tracts of commercial space that are not finalized. John Wieland Homes will submit final plans for those portions at a later time to the City Council for approval.

Kingsfield said John Wieland Homes hopes to partner with a commercial builder to design the space and fill it with restaurants and retail stores.

Coleman said he hopes Meeting Park will offer a different variety of shops and eateries than the Square so there will be another area for people to spend their evenings and weekends in Marietta.

“It will give the residents around the city another outlet,” Coleman said.

John Wieland Homes is a visionary company that focuses on walkability and urban development that entices residents to stay active in the city after work instead of commuting home, Wieland said.

He added there is a shift of people leaving the suburbs.

Meeting Park offers a unique opportunity to build something from the ground up. That type of vacant space near a downtown is rare in other cities around the metro Atlanta area, Wieland said.

Kingsfield said residents of the future Meeting Park will most likely not be families, but young professionals and retirees.

Tumlin said he hopes the urban environment of Meeting Park will help to recruit more people to live in Marietta.

“We are going to have plenty of jobs on Franklin Road,” Tumlin said, referring to the city’s $68 million redevelopment bond that will be voted on by the public Nov. 5.

Comments
(3)
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DBA2
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September 02, 2013
Just what an already overpopulated, congested, nearly impossible to get through Marietta Square needs, more people. When are the City councilmen going to wake up and look at the traffic and parking issues that are getting worse by the day? I bet none of them have ever had to sit in traffic on Dallas Hwy/Whitlock Avenue during rush hour in the morning or evening. Stop building and start looking at alleviating the gridlock you are hell bent on making worse! I for one stay away from any event on the square because parking is non existent and the traffic is ridiculous. Wake up!
Sub-You
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September 01, 2013
Love it when Philip tries to show concern over standards, yet lets his properties crumble.

Talk about sub-standard...look in the mirror.
Dear Pie in the Sky
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September 01, 2013
Dear Pie in the Sky Mayor - Did you not read the beginning of the article? 8 years later (actually 10 because it will take 2 years to build homes) the homeowners in Meeting Park will be able work at jobs in the Franklin Road area? I hope they have a lot of savings because at this rate, it will be at least 10 years for those jobs to develop. You, the former mayor, and the city council should be ashamed. We all know what your redevelopment is really about. Why don't you go further down Roswell Street and close down a real eyesore - Little Mexico - at least the residents of Clay Homes were legal citizens of the United States.
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