Franklin Road makeover is the main goal of $35M plan
by Jon Gillooly
March 26, 2013 12:09 AM | 6816 views | 19 19 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For years residents have complained about a blighted stretch of aging apartments on Marietta's Franklin Road that they say put a strain on the city’s police force and school system.

Mayor Steve Tumlin is giving residents a chance to do something about that in a Thursday proposal to the City Council.

Tumlin will propose asking city voters to approve a $35 million “quality of life” general obligation bond — as early as this November — that would allow the city to buy and raze a handful of apartment complexes, readying the property for sale for commercial and light industrial development.

He also is suggesting building a road connecting Franklin Road with Barclay Circle, the entrance to Life University, which is adjacent to Southern Polytechnic State University.

Tumlin also would use $1 million to $1.5 million on improving Whitlock Avenue.

“Not four or five lanes, but a boulevard look with wide sidewalks and lamps,” he said. “We get a lot of complaints that we haven’t spent any money on Whitlock compared to three or four of the other main roads.”

He would like to do something with the now-closed school on Lemon Street that was the only option for black Marietta residents to attend before desegregation.

“We’re talking about making a memorial at Lemon Street High School, working with the Board of Education to put in maybe an African-American museum,” he said.

There are also some aging strip malls in the city that could be purchased and razed, he said.

“We must aggressively fight against urban blight for the sake of our schools, residents, businesses and public safety,” Tumlin said. “Take blight off and replace it with either quality of life producing or economic development producing.”

Effects on taxpayers

Tumlin is suggesting a 10-year general obligation bond that would raise the millage rate by 2 mills. Had voters not just approved the education special purpose local option sales tax that pays off the debt of Marietta City Schools, he would not be making the proposal, he said.

“It was hinging on the Board of Education’s SPLOST passing. Because they’re going to pay off their indebtedness, there’s 1.87 mills on there now. This would be 2 mills,” he said.

To give an idea of what this would cost homeowners, Marietta Economic Development Director Beth Sessoms said 2 mills equals $160 on a home that is assessed at $200,000.

If the house stayed at the same value, that would be an additional $160 a year for 10 years.

Targeting Franklin Road

Sessoms said there is a mile and half stretch of Franklin Road between Delk Road and the South Loop that has about 3,000 aging apartment units that date to the 1970s and ’80s.

There are 11 apartment complexes and two aging townhome developments that rent out a number of their units on that stretch as well.

Many of the complexes are in and out of foreclosure, she said.

Tumlin said they also offer deals such as the first three months of rent for free.

But the transient nature of the population means when it comes to the fourth month, the family has moved out.

That puts a strain on Marietta City Schools.

Marietta Board of Education Chairman Randy Weiner greeted word of Tumlin’s proposal with applause.

“This is, in my opinion, one of the most important bonds the city has ever brought to the voters,” Weiner said.

“It has the potential to not only transform the city, but transform the school system. A lot of our highest needs and transient students come from the Franklin Road area, and it will greatly stabilize our student population.”

In 2010, the city spent $2.7 million to buy the 13-acre Preston Chase apartments on Franklin Road from Regions Bank, and spent another $410,643 with Environmental Holdings Group of Buford to demolish the complex, turning the area into parkland.

“More times than not, there are two or three good buys on Franklin Road that we do not have the money to take advantage of,” Tumlin said. “And usually if they’re foreclosed on, it means the people living there are in horrible conditions. If we could put 13 to 15 acres together and attract our first green tech business there on Franklin Road, then when we sold it, we could start over and do it again, buy another three.”

Tumlin said the city would use the same method it did when it razed Preston Chase, bringing in the Marietta Housing Authority to help relocate the occupants. Eminent domain would not be used.

A domino effect

Tumlin said he has already received favorable comments about his proposal.

“People ask me all the time, ‘When are we going to do it?’” he said. “Now, those that think the government ought to just do police and fire, they won’t like it. But it would probably pay off overnight from the school system to the parks system to the police system, lowering crime rates. If you replace some rundown places that have outlived their useful life and put in something that generates jobs, generates new taxes, I would say the domino effect is good.”

The council’s economic development committee, composed of council members Grif Chalfant, Johnny Sinclair and Anthony Coleman, will take up the proposal Thursday.

Tumlin said he looks forward to hearing other ideas from council members and the public on the best way to shape the proposal.

“Marietta citizens can exercise their right to put Marietta on the right track with the many opportunities and low interest rates available,” he said. “Crime, blight, poor housing conditions, extraordinary job-producing economic development opportunities are a choice, and we can be innovative and proactive to make Marietta an even better place to live with our citizens having the opportunity to express their desire.”
Comments-icon Post a Comment
March 27, 2013
All you bright people out here commenting, give the solution. Run for public office. Win. Solve all the problems, since you have all the answers. I wait to see your one vote for yourself.
C. Smith
March 26, 2013
I applaud you, Mayor Tumlin. It is so easy to be an armchair critic and so hard to run a town. Kudos.
March 26, 2013
I agree, Marietta/Cobb seems slow about growth. In 2007 the 100M Powder Springs/Garrison/Sandtown corrider plan died and I haven't heard a mention of it since. This is really questionable judgement being that nothing quite becomes complete here. The schools auditorium was a great initiative but where is Marietta specifically going? What are the plans for growth? Surely, Marietta will not survive being on it's quaint little town reputation before it's devoured by blightness everywhere and arresting growth. The area where the new Walmart is should be developed to encourage growth and spur resurgence.
March 26, 2013
Slow to me is not knowing how to use it's versus its.
Wish For YOU
March 27, 2013
There is value in being a quaint little town that has not been devoured by blightness everywhere and arresting growth. I wish you could have been so blessed and may we continue to bless our children apart from you.
OM at its finest
March 26, 2013
That sure will transform the school sysetm! Get rid of the poor people and and their kids with language issues and special needs, and Marietta will shine like a star with their one-size-fits-all curriculum!

Keep doing what you do best, Marietta: re-segregating the city by income level. Poor people get shoved into Cobb, out of the city, and Marietta gets to act superior when Cobb's scores go down, and Marietta's inch up.

It's ironic that my "captcha" word below is "justice." Not in Marietta if you are lower income.
Need specifics
March 26, 2013
Mayor Tumlin, please provide specifics on the number of people asking to put the city in debt to make a boulevard of Whitlock and buy apartments on Franklin. Any chance they are the developers who stand to gain?
Margaret Tommer
March 26, 2013
I am one who has been asking for this. My kids are enrolled in Marietta City Schools and i'm very happy with the education they are getting, however, I see the district improving in MANY ways due to redeveloping Franklin Road;

1.) Lower transient rates

2.) higher test scores

3.) higher graduation rate

4.) less special needs services needed

5.) less money needed to run the schools- less students, less services needed

The city would benefit from;

1.) dramatic drop in crime

2.) improved tax base when businesses move in

3.) less drain on city resources

4.) land can be sold and used for other areas of blight

It's money well spent!
mk- last 20 years
March 26, 2013
So while the Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Perimeter areas were working together ensuring a booming business environment, I just can't figure out what Smyrna, Marietta & the Cobb County government have been doing the last 20 years.

Vinings is the ONLY area in Cobb planning a future.

All Cobb leadership have dropped the ball , allowing quality development to stop dead cold at the 285 bridge on Cobb Parkway.

Cobb Parkway is a disgrace to Cobb.

Go see how nice Peachtree Industrial is , up through Gwinnett. It has mapped out Gwinnetts high tech corridor, from Norcross, Duluth, to Suwanee.

Cobb Parkway is a main artery and should be valued.

Can't just go into Frankin Roadarea alone,.. Cobb should encourage growth, new shopping, density , greenspace , mixed use, highrises.. along Cobb Parkway,.. TO Frankin Road. Otherwise,.. Franklin Road will not be very inviting, surrounded by run down conditions.

Franklin Road wouldn't be in condition it's in, if mayors, commissioners, etc. would just be honest about illegal immigration. Mayor Tumlin, the transient population IS the illegal alien population. Where do you want to hide them? Keep them cordoned off to the west side of South Cobb Drive?

March 27, 2013
Another bitter, myopic post by MK.
March 26, 2013
So where is a mention of bicycle lanes for the length of Franklin Road and a multi-use path from Franklin to the Walmart shopping center that runs BEHIND the businesses on US 41?

If we want people to live here, we really need to make it livable. Not everyone wants to use a car for everything. Lots of people on Franklin Rd already do not use a car for everything. Can't we give them a way to help themselves? They should not have to pedal up and down the sidewalk at 3mph trying to get around the stollers without falling into the travel lanes, or wait 45 minutes for the bus to take them less than 2 miles.

Maybe we could even add bicycle lanes into downtown on each "gateway to the city" corridor as we rebuild them. Even Georgia has a Complete Streets policy, what is Marietta SOOOOO far behind even the State of Georgia??

We could attract vibrant young people who are actively rejecting the whole "cars define your self worth" ad campaign and also rejecting the "buy bigger further out on less land where it's supposedly cheaper never mind all the gasoline and car expenses" ad campaign.

We have a treasure trove of "Dwell" worthy houses within walking and biking distance of the city. We could sell them for twice what they currently bring if only we would take advantage of prevailing thought. Pick up a design magazine (they're expensive, go to the library). Have a look at what the people we want are being told they want. Then let's give it to them. It's all right here but we keep doing everything we can to hinder the goldmine beneath us all.


NAH.. Give the Lyric more money, cut the senior citizen taxes some more, give the senior citizens free tickets to the Lyric, then add another car lane to every road, because THAT has worked so well for so long and made this place everything it should be after 30 years of the plan.......
March 27, 2013
VFP and MK. You both make senseless comments out here and I suspect something. PH has joined your force. I don't know anyone named Sean.
March 27, 2013
Please don't comment PH, MK, or VPF if you are being sarcastic. Nobody except for yourself "gets" when you are being serious or not. Since you are never being serious by your own admission, please leave it to the rest of us intelligent people to debate the points and stop . Taa. taa. I don't have time to figure out what you are trying to say. If you can't just say it, wierdo, just don't speak at all. And while you are making all these comparisons, go swallow a valium to get you through your miserable morning in Smyrna where you wake up every single day of your life to an absolutely totally without question a miserable life. Ye gads, living in Smyrna is equal to hear you is equal to a concentration camp. Well, I guess Bac__ does burn if you put it on the fire enough. Enough, MK, more than enough. Stop it. Stop it. Stop your longing for something you will never have. Max will never love you, Delta Dawn.
To Anonymous
March 28, 2013
You seem to forget about Freedom of Speech in the Constitution. Don't like what is said? Well bless your heart, just don't read the post.

First Amendment guarantee - if you don't like the post, you don't get to decide whether it can be said.

Too bad about Max, he has made enough money as Smyrna mayor to get over being offended - pretty good lifetime job for someone with just a high school education.
March 26, 2013
They should have a buyer ready before they purchase these properties. Look at the homes they bought off of Hedges that went no where.
Franklin C
March 26, 2013
Finally- something REAL is being done about the worst stretch of road in the State! Cannot wait to vote in November.
March 26, 2013
Spend all the money you want but you have to get rid of section eight housing and blighted people and blighted incomes. Just another reason we need a flat tax instead of income tax these properties use to be nice and are for about seven years that’s tax structure plain and simple. To fix Whitlock it needs to be one way and Polk Street needs to be one way; you have the Yuppie and Old Money choke hold on Whitlock so you’re just another Woodstock. What about Powersprings hows that working should of had an anchor store before wasting money but if it's not yours its easy to spend!!
March 26, 2013
FYI, from the MHA website - "The only MHA waiting lists currently open are for project based vouchers for the elderly (those 62 or older). The waiting list for the Housing Choice Program, (also known as Sec8 Program,) is closed. When the waiting list opens again, it will be announced on the MHA website." In fact, in most cities across the US section 8 is closed to any new applicants and has been for some time. Homelessness is a big issue right now. People working 2 jobs at minimum wage cannot afford fair market rent.
March 27, 2013
Cobb County is faced with the changing environment, just as the rest of the nation is facing. Cobb County was initially built as a suburb of people that didn't live in the city and commuted to Atlanta; making a choice in the 50s to move out of Atlanta. Vinings is seeing distressed conditions in both commercial and residential properties. Peachtree Industrial, Gwinnett, Duluth, and Suwanee are all seeing distressed conditions. Cobb Parkway is valued as a commercial marketplace and always has been since the time it was built; same as South Cobb Drive, not a livable walkable metropolis. Franklin Road cannot be considered alone. Really? Low income, immigrants, etc. are all a part of every county and city in 2013. This is not due to government leaders that were elected into office against your vote. You can look all over all metro Atlanta and see distress. What about Riverbend? What about Moonraker? To live in the past is just that. Living in the past. To say all these areas should become mixed use, high rise, sidewalk, etc. areas is just showing your ignorance and lack of knowledge of real estate. The Garden of Eden might have what you are wanting. Stop commenting, stupids. And thank God for the elected...and I repeat as much as that hurts...elected by the majority...officials.
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