KENNESAW - Mayor Mark Mathews in his 2014 State of the City address told a crowd of more than 200 people the city will emerge from the stifled economy by annexing 53 acres of county property at the intersection of Cobb Parkway and Barrett Parkway.
The speech took place in January.
Mathews said the plan is to close the Castle Lake Mobile Home Park, which has tenants, and build a 400,000-square-foot retail space anchored by a natural grocer, regional sporting goods store, restaurants and specialty shops.
The site is southeast of the city in unincorporated Cobb County.
The Atlanta-based Fuqua Development, which is under contract to purchase the land, is working with the property owners and going through the application process to annex the parcels into the Kennesaw city limits, Mathews said.
Mathews said the Kennesaw City Council will vote on the annexation in the first quarter of 2014 and the plan would have to be reviewed by the Atlanta Region Commission, an unelected intergovernmental agency.
From outside of Kennesaw, Mathews moved the focus to the center of the city, talking about revitalization on Main Street.
For years, the city has been laying the groundwork for redevelopment of downtown, but "this will be the year we make major progress in that direction," Mathews said.
The initiative began in 2008, as parcels of land owned by four different property owners were assembled into a 5-acre plot, which was bought by Kennesaw's Urban Redevelopment Agency with a $2.8 million bond issuance.
Mathews said the future mixed-use development is planned to include 250 apartments, more than 12,000 square feet of commercial space and an additional 300 public parking spaces.
Construction will take 15 to 18 months, and the new space should be open by the end of summer 2015.
The developer is Atlanta-based South City Partners, which is the same company used to develop the West 22 student housing community at Cherokee Street and McCollum Parkway near Kennesaw State University.
At the luncheon, Mathews highlighted West 22 as a former "neglected" trailer park that was "targeted by the city for redevelopment."
'Let's Build It' theme
The economic development of Kennesaw will become even more stable as the city collects more in tax revenue as new businesses move into the area and property values rise, Mathews said.
The address was meant to highlight "the work (Kennesaw) has done to stay ahead of the curve," Mathews said. "Some projects have been a long time coming."
Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood said he always comes to Kennesaw's State of the City because Mathews is a good friend and the city of Kennesaw, which neighbors Acworth, is a good partner.
Allegood said he knew positive economic news would be a part of Tuesday's address because most cities in Cobb are feeling a recovery with "an overall renewed confidence in investing in new business."
Three years ago, Winston Agebebiyi joined the Kennesaw Business Association, which played host to the event, and this is his first year on the KBA's board.
Agebebiyi is a certified public accountant who opened his own firm, Meridian Consulting, in Kennesaw more than three years ago after moving to Cobb from Michigan in 2006.
Agebebiyi said he wanted to hear about initiatives that would partner residents with the city, including how to prepare the community for an ever-growing college on the Kennesaw border.
Mathews also highlighted Kennesaw State University for celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2013 and announcing the addition of a football program.
Agebebiyi said "with Kennesaw State University busting at the seams," it is a great time to focus on downtown, and possibly add more options for entertainment.