CUMBERLAND — With less than a year until ground breaks on the new Braves stadium, Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee said he wants county officials and Cumberland businesses on the same game plan.
At a recent event, Lee said the Cumberland area’s governing board is “working arm-in-arm” with county staff to make the most of the planned $672 million stadium.
The stadium will be built on 60 acres, a rare tract of undeveloped land in an otherwise urban area at the intersection of Interstates 285 and 75 near Cumber-land Mall.
Both Lee and Cumberland CID Chairman Tad Leithead said the project, which will include a $400 million adjoining mixed-used development of retail stores, restaurants, bars and residential units, is being developed as a result of 25 years of investments by the CID to improve the area.
The CID began in 1988 to tax commercial property owners in a defined 5.5-square mile area. According to the recently released CID’s annual 2013 report, the district includes commercial real estate valued at $2.7 billion, an increase of 220 percent from 1988.
Lee told the CID board no project tied to the stadium is certain, including the public transportation portion, which could be a shuttle, bus or trolley system circulating through the area.
“The only thing that is certain is things are changing and shaping daily,” Lee said.
Most recently, Lee said executives of Home Depot asked for its high-rise headquarters off Paces Ferry Road, on the western edge of the Cumberland area, to be included in the public transportation circuit.
Lee used many self-professed “silly analogies” to describe “this blob that we are trying to bring into development.”
Lee said the entertainment district around the future stadium is like an omelet. It seems like a mess in the middle with various ingredients, but is delicious altogether.
A divided, stalled CID
To organize the “mess” and be prepared for a possible list of SPLOST projects, Lee said cities and tax districts in Cobb were asked by the end of March to give a list of final transportation initiatives to Faye DiMassimo, the county’s transportation director.
Lee said county commissioners might ask voters to extend Cobb’s 1-cent SPLOST, which expires Dec. 31, 2015, for another four years.
Lee told the CID that 90 percent of transportation funding comes from SPLOST, and he wants Cobb’s Department of Transportation’s long list to align with the CID’s future plans.
“We got engaged back in November, and now we are doing the wedding planning,” Lee said. He added this phase can lead to disputes when the plans must involve money and transportation issues.