Cobb BOC approves mixed-use development on East West Connector in 3-2 vote

East West Connector mixed-use stipulation being read by Commissioner Lisa CupidScreenshot of Lisa Cupid reading the stipulations for the East West Connector mixed-use development.

The Cobb County Board of Commissioners approved a mixed-use development in District 4, at the intersection of the East West Connector and Floyd Road, in a 3-2 vote at their monthly zoning meeting on Tuesday October 20.

District 2 Commissioner Bob Ott and District 1 Commissioner Keli Gambrill voted against approval.

There was no community opposition to the application at the meeting, neither in person nor online.

Ott said he opposed the project because the number of apartments would create traffic problems, and that he was opposed to the variance that decreased the number of parking spaces.

The application, Z-51, requested rezoning a property with multiple zoning designations to the Planned Village Community (PVC) category, for the purpose of a mixed-use development upgrading and expanding the existing retail, and adding apartments and townhomes.

The zoning document (which you can read by following this link) contains the following description of the proposed development:

The applicant is proposing to rezone the 61.08 acre property to PVC for the purpose of constructing a mixed use development with 405 residential units including 21 townhomes and 384 apartments with amenities that include single story parking garages adjacent to each building.

The apartment building will be three (3) stories in height. The project will include the addition of up to 30,000 square feet of retail and the renovation of the existing 223,773 square foot shopping center on the site. There is an additional 22,462 square feet of existing restaurant and commercial development on the site.

The property is west and north of the intersection of Floyd Road and the East West Connector, directly across Floyd Road from the Home Depot.

After an introduction by the applicant’s attorney, Garvis Sams, Brad Garner of the Garner Group described the plan.

“We’re owners and operators of open air shopping centers throughout the Southeast and the Midwest,” he said. “We’ve been doing it for about 30 years now. And we specialize in the revitalization of older centers.”

He said the model they had been following of refurbishing retail shopping centers was not realistic in the current retail environment.

“Over the last decade, I think we all acknowledge that retail has shifted dramatically in this country … and that playbook simply doesn’t work anymore,” Garner said. “We need to repurpose shopping centers like this now. What that means is other uses, whether that’s office or medical or self storage, and in this case, residential.”

“It’s very rare that we get the opportunity to bring a shopping center and have the additional undeveloped land that we have with this center,” he said.

Garner said the existing shopping center had been owned by the same Cobb County family for 30 years, and had been in decline, as the original tenants left and vacancies increased.

“When we sat down on the residential with our vision, the first thing we had to do was pick the right partner,” said Garner. “We specialize in retail, and we needed a multifamily residential developer of top notch quality.”

“And we’ve chosen Greystar. Many of you know Greystar,” he said. “They’ve done multiple Cobb County projects, and have been just a godsend for us as we’ve worked through this project.”

District 4 Commissioner Lisa Cupid, who represents the area of proposed development, made the motion to approve.

“This application has received a lot of attention and in a good way,” she said.

She said nearby residents were supportive of the efforts to revitalize the shopping center.

“We certainly appreciate this opportunity to … continue redevelopment along the East West Connector … the way that retail has been going,” she said. “Anytime there’s opportunity to bring residential closer to retail it just strengthens the possibilities of success for retail.”

She added a list of stipulations to the project, to which the applicant agreed, including the funding of a traffic light at the Home Depot driveway adjacent to the development’s driveway across Floyd Road, if the Cobb DOT’s analysis finds it is needed two years after the project is completed.

The motion passed 3-2.

Watch the video of the hearing on Z-51