As a nonprofit, Revitalize Marietta will inform and advocate for funding redevelopment projects.
A key component of the group’s campaign is voter approval of the proposed $35 million bond that would pay to revitalize depressed areas of the city.
Heath Garrett, co-founder of Revitalize Marietta, said the citizens group will engage conversations between business leaders and multiple government agencies about aging neighborhoods and vacant commercial areas.
“Cities are either growing or dying,” Garrett said. “We have all the assets in the world to be the pre-eminent suburb.”
The presentation’s main focus was on Franklin Road, which was labeled as a drug corridor and an area of violent crime.
Garrett said Revitalize Marietta will campaign for balanced solutions that are fiscally and humanly responsible, instead of concentrated areas of low-income housing.
“We need to own it, and do something about it as a community,” Garrett said about the Franklin Road corridor’s reputation.
The Marietta Redevelopment Corp.’s 10-acre project on Hedges Street has successfully razed blighted properties, but development stalled during the economic recession.
Revitalize Marietta suggests tearing down blighted properties and then using tax credits, grants, and private sector investments to attract Class A multi-family and commercial properties.
These facilities attract property managers who will reinvest in the area, Garrett said, instead of a cycle of foreclosures due to absentee landlords.
“Anyone who gets a voucher or is dislocated will end up in a much better situation,” Garrett said. He said he supports using condemnation of properties for public use.
Beth Sessoms, acting executive director of the Marietta Redevelopment Corp., said she wants to share financial data and connections the MRC has made in the community.
She said the board knows there is competition from growing cities outside Cobb County, and feels the bond is a large amount of money that will make an impact.
“We are interconnected for an end goal we are all striving for,” said Sessoms, who said she supports Revitalize Marietta’s advocacy but added her job is to act once the bond is approved.
Garrett said he admits numerous committees have the same goal, but they have specific and limited authority. He criticized the “shotgun approach,” creating many distinct projects because of the city’s political structure and officials’ personalities.
Garrett has invested staff and cash into Revitalize Marietta, which he said he sees as campaign to market the entire city. The group hopes to organize a full conference in the fall to recruit chain businesses, office space employers and senior living communities.
“Anything we can do to present Marietta in a good light is a good thing. We will welcome anybody’s help,” Sessoms said about Revitalize Marietta’s mission.