South Cobb’s biggest advantage — its proximity to Atlanta — has also been one of its biggest curses. This closeness has made it easy for residents there to commute into Atlanta for jobs. But it also has made it equally easy for urban-type crime and other challenges to steadily spill into that part of Cobb. What were tidy apartment complexes when they were new in the 1970s and ’80s are today typically rundown and home to all manner of mayhem.
South Cobb’s schools have lagged behind those in the rest of Cobb for decades, despite a steady stream of dollars and new programs sent their way. Crumbling storefronts and empty strip malls and houses are common. Its 13.1 percent jobless rate is twice the county’s average, while its $29,000 median average income is less than half the county average. And south Cobb’s crown jewel, Six Flags Over Georgia, draws tourists from all over the state and beyond. But most of them never venture beyond its perimeter after leaving the interstate, and frankly, might find it injurious to life and limb were they to do so.
So south Cobb is overripe for action. And that’s what a proposed new redevelopment authority would represent. It would include the area northward from the southern tip of the county to I-20 and slightly beyond.
The authority would be able to issue and sell bonds, the revenues from which would be used to purchase blighted properties, which then would be razed and sold for redevelopment. Initial talk is of a $10 million bond issue.
Meanwhile, the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority would be levying higher taxes on owners of commercial and industrial properties there, and also on apartment complex owners. The proceeds would be used to help pay off the bond debt.
Commission Chairman Tim Lee is hopeful the new authority can be voted on by his board by September following public hearings.
And said Ed Richardson, chairman of the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority: “I think it’s a conservative way to approach this because the people who stand to benefit the most from the improvements we’ve been talking about are the ones that are going to pay for it. So, if you’re outside of the south Cobb district in another part of the county, they won’t be paying.”
Also supporting the program is south Cobb Commissioner Lisa Cupid.
“We’ve been trying since I came into office ... to identify a mechanism to redevelop that area, and I’m glad to see that we’ve finally found one that can work,” she said.
It’s certainly worth a try and deserves the full support of those who want to see south Cobb flourish to its fullest potential.