MARIETTA?- Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin doesn't want to guess what the Franklin Road corridor will look like once it's complete because as recent developments prove, plans can change in an instant.
"I have no preconceived concept of what the area will look like because as we've found out, preconceived notions can disappear in a day," he said.
Two headline-making developments in November had Tumlin and the rest of the Marietta City Council rethinking how they might spend the voter-approved $68 million redevelopment bond. First was the announcement that nearby Kennesaw State University and Southern Polytechnic State University would combine operations, followed closely by the announcement the Atlanta Braves could move their home stadium to the Cumberland area, just a few miles away from the corridor.
"The Braves deal could slow down the redevelopment process," Tumlin said, "because it adds such a different dimension, and the area around us is going to change dramatically. The model we had in our mind pre-Braves might be changing."
Originally, plans called for the bond money to be used to purchase and demolish 10 to 12 apartment complexes bordering Franklin Road between Cobb Parkway and Interstate 75, to create 179 to 190 acres of cleared land to entice developers.
Rather than focusing heavily on attracting commercial ventures, however, there may be a shift toward recruiting more hotels and retail establishments, Tumlin said.
According to published reports, the Braves organization wanted to earn at least $200 million through redeveloping the area around its existing home at Turner Field with new apartments, restaurants and hotels, in exchange for remaining downtown.
"We will work to fit into the whole corridor," Tumlin said. "We won't necessarily work in accordance with them (Cobb County and the Braves organization), but certainly we'll work in harmony with them."
According to Tumlin, the city will close its $7.9 million deal on the 386-unit, 25.2-acre Woodlands Park Apartments complex at 861 Franklin Road, just off I-75, by Dec. 31, and will buy other properties as they become available.
To help the city in this endeavor, the council has hired Chicago-based real estate consultant company Jones Lang LaSalle, which, pre-Braves announcement, set an aggressive timetable of two-to-four years for the redevelopment project.
The entire road won't have had a facelift in two years, but that's when the firm wants to see at least one "catalytic" project under way that could attract more growth, a firm representative told the council last month.
The real estate consultant company will help market property the city purchases and will court developers interested in the area.
In the meantime, Tumlin said the city won't "snap up everything" that comes up for sale in the Franklin Road corridor, rather, he hopes to see a "Galleria-type effect," where success breeds more success.
"I think the bond passed on the optimism of what the 75/41 corridor can and should be," the mayor said. "I envision a quality mixed-use area; take an overview of the Barrett Parkway/Town Center area and the Galleria area, and that gives you some idea of where this may go over time."