Observers were shocked not just by the severity of the recession but by its seeming duration. Although officially over in June 2009, the “recovery” has been so feeble and unemployment remains so high that it still feels in many ways like a recession.
The crash and its fallout left numerous projects in Marietta and Cobb half-finished or barely started. Among them was what was meant to be a centerpiece of the city’s redevelopment push during the regime of Mayor Bill Dunaway: the construction of 265 single-family homes, townhomes and condos on a 17.5-acre tract between Roswell Street and South Marietta Parkway west of Fairground Street and along Manget Street. The Manget at Historic Marietta construction was to replace scores of decaying World War II-vintage houses and duplexes. The city even went so far as to lavish an $8.4 million Tax Allocation District subsidy on the $100 million project by Hedgewood Homes of Cumming.
But the recession pulled down the project, as well as the city’s other two TAD efforts at Frasier Park (which had gotten a $660,000 subsidy) and Marietta Mill Lofts ($400,000).
Thanks to the economic plunge, Hedgewood was able to build just 12 single-family homes, 14 town homes and an eight-unit condo before the property was foreclosed on in 2008.
Recovery has been a long time coming, but the Manget project is finally showing signs of life. The city council signed off last week on updated plans for the tract, which now is owned by Atlanta-based Pacific Group. Builder Brock Built Homes is planning 78 single-family detached homes and 10 townhomes on the site, with house sizes between 1,600 and 2,000 square feet and all containing at least three bedrooms. Price points will range from the mid-$200,000s up to $400,000. In addition, each home will have a two-car garage.
Marietta in recent decades has been saddled with an unhealthy two-to-one ratio of rental housing to homeowner-occupied, which does not bode well for the future prospects of the city’s independent school system. So Pacific’s enhanced focus on building single-family homes is especially welcome.
Construction is expected to start on parts of the project almost immediately, with the remainder starting by summer’s end.
All told, it’s a heartening step toward the revitalization of what formerly was one of the city’s most down-at-the-mouth neighborhoods and what for most of the past decade has been an unkempt wasteland.