First pitch at the Braves’ new SunTrust Park is next month, but already the economic benefits are being felt, not only in the Cumberland area, but across southern Cobb County.
Some $4 billion in new investment will be realized in the Cumberland area by 2018, with approximately $3 billion going toward enhancements in public infrastructure, according to figures from Malaika Rivers, Cumberland CID Executive Director. The Cumberland CID has more than 20 construction projects underway within a three-mile area. These infrastructure improvements are set to improve safety and better manage the traffic congestion within the area
Cobb Chamber President David Connell noted that Cobb will soon be home to three professional sports franchises. Preceding the Braves’ relocation to Cobb was the Atlanta Blaze, a professional men’s field lacrosse team based in Kennesaw, while Arthur Blank’s Atlanta United Football Club is building its headquarters and training complex on a 33-acre site on Franklin Gateway in Marietta; the soccer team will begin play this spring and eventually play its home games at the Atlanta Falcons’ new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Six Flags and White Water expect an attendance boost from Braves fans.
“We are interested in working with the Braves; we expect to see a lot more attendance at both parks,” said Six Flags President Dale Kaetzel. “The combination will make people want to stay an extra night, and usually they stay closer to the theme park so they can get in early.”
“District 4 (southwest Cobb represented by Commissioner Lisa Cupid) has been leading the county in permits for the last six months,” said Cobb Commission Chair Mike Boyce. “There’s a lot happening there – new homes, new business. South Cobb is in a great position because there’s a great infrastructure already in place.
Other parts of southern Cobb are working to get their piece of the pie.
“We hope to market the area as a pit stop for travelers to the Braves’ games,” said Stephanie Aylworth, economic development coordinator for Powder Springs.
Powder Springs is looking at future downtown plans and funding. Mayor Al Thurman said he favors building upscale apartments in downtown to draw more businesses. City officials are reviewing several plans which would involve the investment of $3 to $5 million for “a public amenity” in downtown with its design and location not yet determined.
Austell is looking toward housing for new residents and working to improve its downtown.
“The Braves will be bringing in service sector workers,” said Darrell Weaver of the city’s Community Development Department. “Austell is looking to provide housing for the workforce as part of our residential growth because land costs are lower.”
“We want to re-activate our downtown,” he said. Using data from Georgia Power economic development, the city realized that it was losing millions of dollars in a 15 mile radius from Austell residents. The city worked to reactivate the Austell business Association. Austell has purchased several holdings in the downtown area, renovating them and marketing them to new business. Two of the newest businesses are in city-owned buildings. Oz Antique Market opened the end of last year, and South Cobb Diner, a second location for West Cobb diner, is expected to open in the next couple of months.
The biggest growth is in the Cumberland area.
“Residential developments are being constructed at an all-time high right now in Cumberland,” Rivers said. These new residential developments cause a 71 percent population increase over the next 10 years in Cumberland.
According to the Cumberland CID’s 2015 annual report, here are some projects that are coming to Cumberland:
- 6 office, 5 retail, and 5 hotel projects.
- 11 multifamily projects.
- 1,582 hotel rooms.
- 625,500 square feet of new retail.
- 1.7 million new square feet of Class A office space delivered by 2017.
- 6,806 housing units bringing more than 13,500 new residents.
- $2 billion in public infrastructure improvements in and around Cumberland.
“The world is changing so much. If you look at what’s happening over here with the Braves at SunTrust Park, we’re going to be host to a lot of new people here (in Cobb),” Gary Bottoms, Cobb Chamber Chairman, said. “The chamber’s going to work really hard to accommodate in any way we can to make that a positive experience.”
From the March 2017 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.