Fortunately, that’s about to change.
Atlanta-based Fuqua Development announced last week that it had the 52 acres at the intersection of Barrett and Cobb parkways under contract and planned to build a 450,000-square-foot retail/townhome development on the site.
Anchoring the shopping center will be an upscale Whole Foods Market, which would be its ninth in the metro area. The chain also owns and operates the metro area’s three Harry’s Farmer’s Market, including the one just off Roswell Road in Marietta.
“We’re always looking for new locations around the Atlanta metro area,” said Whole Foods spokesman Jeremiah Ryan. “We’re excited that we’ve found a great location for the Kennesaw community, and we look forward to providing more people with good, healthy food options.”
The store would employ between 170 and 220 people and open by 2016.
The property is in unincorporated Cobb but was approved Monday for annexation by the city of Kennesaw, and at a “higher” zoning that will allow the shopping center. It is occupied at present by the sprawling Castle Lake Mobile Home Park, which generates comparatively little to the county tax digest. Most of the mobile home park would be demolished to make way for the development, and it’s likely the remaining 34 acres of trailers will eventually be annexed and redeveloped as well. The Kennesaw Planning Commission voted to require Fuqua to come up with a relocation plan, and Fuqua plans to start relocation assistance this spring on a family-by-family basis, according to its attorney, Garvis Sams Jr. of Marietta.
Kennesaw leaders say they promised no tax inducements to get Fuqua to request annexation, but the promise of higher, denser zoning seems to have been enticement enough to do the trick. It’s a saga that has played out all over Cobb in recent decades, as developers sought and obtained zoning from Cobb’s municipalities that they could not get from the county commission. No tax inducement should be necessary for such a highly desirable property, one situated at the intersection of two of the busiest roads in north Cobb and barely a mile east of two busy interstates.
We’re glad to see that underutilized property finally slated for redevelopment, especially one that promises to enhance it so greatly.