Bulldozing the blight: Sprayberry Crossing demolition begins

Front-end loader smashing buildingFront end load demolishes building (photo by Rebecca Gaunt)

By Rebecca Gaunt

[Be sure to look at the photos at the bottom of this article]

After decades of falling into disrepair, the building that once housed a Bruno’s Supermarket met with its demise Monday, the first to go in the Sprayberry Crossing Shopping Center, which has aggravated neighbors with its crumbling parking lot and peeling exteriors for years.

“We have been waiting for how long for this day to come?” Cobb Commissioner JoAnn Birrell asked the crowd when she arrived.

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Joe Glancy, who lives nearby, has been pushing for change since 2016. 

“I thought this day would come four years ago,” he laughed.

It hasn’t been an easy road. The community initially came together to push NAI Brannen Goddard, the company that previously operated the property at Sandy Plains and E. Piedmont Road, to fix the issues. There were complaints of crime and trash dumping. The parcel containing the former bowling alley was slapped with the county blight tax.There were disagreements over how to handle the private family cemetery in the middle of the property. And while you would be hard pressed to find someone sad to see the current property go, not all are on board with the current site plan.

Developer Atlantic Residential will bring for-sale townhomes, senior living apartments and a 34,000-square-foot retail space to the area. A Lidl grocery store was attached to the project at one point, but fell through. Prior to the demolition, CEO Richard Aaronson told the Courier that they are still working on finding a partner for the retail component. 

Man in suit next to front end loader
Atlantic Residential CEO Richard Aaronson gives his approval to the excavator operator.

The Mayes Family Cemetery remains on the property, with improvements provided by the developer, and accessible to family only. A family representative said they are happy with how things have worked out.

Neighbors came to watch the start of the demolition which is projected to take 30-45 days, according to Aaronson. Construction is expected to begin in August.

For some, it was a family outing with children and dogs in tow. A few neighbors, including one very excited boy, got the chance to don hard hats and swing a golden sledgehammer into the side of the building before a CAT excavator took over the job. 

Owners and employees of surrounding businesses also came out to join the excitement. Owner Scott Reed walked over from his Sandy Plains Chick-fil-A.

Brij Patel, operator of Sprayberry Bottle Shop, was also in attendance. He called it an end to an era and a “beginning to a new one” in a Facebook post. He had previously expressed frustration about the trash dumping that occurred behind his business which borders on the shopping center.

Many have taken to social media to reminisce about when the shopping center was shiny and new and it was a treat to shop at the carpeted Ogletree’s (later became Bruno’s) for groceries. Others mention the old Revco, a Chinese restaurant with huge fish tanks, Mauldin’s Pizza, Video Connection, a pool hall and the bowling alley.

As the facade crumbled, the crowd cheered.

“Finally,” someone mumbled.

Previous Courier coverage of Sprayberry Crossing can be found at this link.

Photos of the Demolition (all photos by Rebecca Gaunt)

Before demolition began.
Cobb Commissioner JoAnn Birrell looked on as community members took turns swinging the golden sledgehammer.
Crowd of onlookers
Neighbors watched as the property that has deteriorated for decades came down.
Vandalism on adjacent buildings.
Broken windows in an adjacent building.

Joe Glancy and Shane Spink began pushing for change in 2016. They started the Sprayberry Crossing Action Facebook group which has more than 6,000 members.

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.

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