Community town hall held to discuss plans for blighted Sprayberry Crossing

Sprayberry town hall Screenshot of rendering of apartment block in article about Sprayberry RODScreenshot of rendering of the apartment block displayed by Atlantic Residential at the virtual meeting

Residents got the chance to provide feedback on plans for the dilapidated Sprayberry Crossing shopping center Wednesday.

Richard Aaronson, CEO of Atlantic Residential, led the town hall that was held via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 100 people joined to see the latest design and ask questions about the planned 15-acre mixed-use development at 2692 Sandy Plains Rd.

The design presented last night had undergone some changes since the previous design was presented in April. The difference that drew the most feedback was the senior living and apartments going from four stories to five, which drew concern from neighbors worried it would tower over its surroundings. The developers said they made this change in order to shrink the footprint and increase green space, while making the roofs more minimal to keep the height more in line with the four-story design.

Aaronson and his team said they were open to input regarding the modern facade. He also explained that the apartments are high end, offering entry-level housing to people who like the area, but are not in a position to buy. It also provides options to empty nesters who want to downsize but stay in the area. Projected rents for one and two-bedroom flats will range between $1,400 and $2,100 per unit with square footages starting at 700+ square feet for one bedrooms and 1,100+ square feet for two bedrooms.

Also included in the project: a 30,000 square foot national grocer, which is already in negotiation, 20,000 square feet of retail, 12,000 square feet of office space, 122 senior living residential flats, 50 for-sale townhomes, and 178 rental apartments. Seventy-five percent of the rentals will be one bedroom and the remaining will have two bedrooms. The townhomes will be about 2,000-2,800 square feet with price points in the low to mid 400s.

Additionally, the community will have two private pools, a pocket park surrounded by the town homes, and a live entertainment venue. It will be governed by an HOA.

Some participants expressed concern about the traffic strain. The developers said they had completed a traffic study, but due to the traffic-reducing effects of COVID stay-at-home orders, they used data collected by the Cobb DOT in 2018 in preparation for the recently-completed median project.

“It is our belief that peak traffic generated by the proposed development will be materially less than traffic generated by a retail center permissible under the existing zoning,” Aronson said.

He also explained that due to the surrounding outparcels of land that are home to fast food restaurants and retail, visibility of the development is limited, making it difficult to draw in retail without a housing component. Parking, as well as ingress and egress points, are still under discussion.

The original shopping center has been around since the 1970s and has fallen into severe disrepair. The former bowling alley has been designated as a blighted property by Cobb County and has been subjected to the blight property tax which is seven times the usual millage rate.

East Cobb resident Joe Glancy created the Sprayberry Crossing Action Group on Facebook in January 2017 to push the NAI Brannen Goddard real estate company, which operates the shopping center, into either making improvements or selling the property. To date, the group has grown to more than 5,600 members.

One controversy that has been settled is over the small family cemetery that sits on the property. At one time, there were plans to move it, set in motion before Atlantic Residential came on the scene, but due to community outcry, the cemetery will remain with a new aesthetically-pleasing fence and surrounding greenspace.

Though the property is eligible for county incentives, Aaronson said it is completely privately funded and they will not be asking for any financial assistance.

Some participants in the town hall accused others of being too negative, saying they welcomed the change.

“We strongly believe that when this area gets redeveloped, all the surrounding properties are going to naturally redevelop themselves and improve themselves…This property, quite frankly, is a cancer on all the other users that are in the area. I don’t mean to say that disparagingly about the tenants that are there – they are probably very good commercial tenants, but the problem is that the buildings and the property haven’t been maintained. It’s an eyesore,” Aaronson said.

More information, including the construction timeline and Q&A from the town hall can be found at A full recording of the Zoom town hall can be found in the Sprayberry Crossing Action Facebook group.

Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University. After teaching elementary school for several years, she returned to writing. She lives in Marietta with her husband, son, two cats, and a dog. In her spare time, she loves to read, binge Netflix and travel.