The Board of Commissioners on Monday approved adding three sites on the highway and one on Mableton Parkway to the county’s inventory of redevelopment sites. Those properties are all east of Floyd Road near the Chattahoochee River.
The move makes these locations eligible for tax incentives, like those given through the county’s Commercial and Industrial Property Rehabilitation Program. Qualified applicants can get their property taxes waved with payments starting at zero and increasing 20 percent per year until their property is fully taxable in the sixth year.
When the county first began keeping an inventory of blighted properties, 13 were on Canton Road in east Cobb. Those sites are starting to fall off the list, said JoAnn Birrell, who represents northeast Cobb on the county commission.
A Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, Waffle House, rock-climbing business and carwash have taken over old buildings that were once vacant or deteriorating.
Birrell points to the upturn in the economy following the Great Recession but says the county’s incentives have helped to drive growth.
“I think that has been a big help in assisting the companies or corporations and the small business owners, too.” Birrell said.
She expects south Cobb can follow suit.
The southern tip of Cobb’s location at the intersection of some of metro Atlanta’s busiest highways is an attraction that can spur developer interest, said Commissioner Lisa Cupid, who represents southwest Cobb.
“That area is well positioned for redevelopment based on its proximity to downtown (Atlanta), the airport and the interstate,” Cupid said.
Lorieal Green, a member of the county-appointed South Cobb Redevelopment Authority, agrees.
“I think that location is prime,” Green said. “It is full of families, young professional families who are looking for good proximity to the city without being in the city.”
Still, Green says the community needs more to keep those families in the area. She lives in the southern tip of Cobb and drives to Douglas County for grocery shopping or to eat at a restaurant because there’s not much like that around her home.
“There’s so much potential for that to be like Grant Park to the west side,” Green said, referring to two of Atlanta’s popular neighborhoods.
The most challenging task in spurring redevelopment, Green said, is attracting developers because “at the end of the day it’s all about the dollars.”
Developers need to know their investment would be worthwhile, Green said, and so far south Cobb has been stifled by its reputation as home to high crime and low-income families.
“It’s not the dangerous area I feel like people perceive it to be,” Green said. “South Cobb has gotten a really bad rap. You can feel safe to walk the streets.”
The community was one of the first in Cobb to be developed and when neighborhoods in Marietta and east Cobb grew, families moved away.
It’s like “starting from scratch” to convince developers their money is worth the investment.
The properties on Veterans Memorial were chosen for the list from criteria that includes the age, size and condition of the property, said Dana Johnson, manager of the county planning division that recommended the sites be added to the inventory.
Other buildings throughout the county that have been singled out for redevelopment were chosen because they are in need of repair, are vacant, have many empty store fronts or have parking lots in need of resurfacing.
When asked for details about the reasons the four south Cobb properties were recommended, Johnson said in an email, “I have nothing else to add.”