Atlanta United to expand operations in Cobb County

Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin signs the contract to sell 17 acres to Atlanta United following Thursday's called City Council meeting.

Credit: Kristal Dixon/AJC

Credit: Kristal Dixon/AJC

Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin signs the contract to sell 17 acres to Atlanta United following Thursday's called City Council meeting.

Atlanta United will soon expand its presence in Cobb County.

The Marietta City Council on Thursday approved a contract to sell 17 acres at 849 Franklin Gateway to Atlanta United for $9.6 million. The team will use the land to expand its training operations, and the new building will sit next to an existing 30,000-square-foot facility and near six full-sized practice fields.

Thursday’s vote also extended Atlanta United’s current lease of 33 acres owned by Marietta for its existing training facility for another five years.

Councilman Joseph Goldstein voted against the proposal, as he said he had some concerns about extending the lease under the terms outlined in the contract. Councilman Reggie Copeland was not present.

Daniel Cummings, Marietta's economic development manager, told Council members that it was "exciting" to see this transaction take place. Marietta has for several years pushed revitalizing Franklin Gateway and pitched it as the city's future. Some apartment buildings there had fallen into disrepair, attracting crime.

Marietta used bonds to buy and tear down the Preston Chase apartments that once stood on the land. Since the city launched those redevelopment efforts, Cummings said vacancy rates of buildings have dropped to about 5 percent and leasing prices have increased.

“I think this is a fantastic day and one that we have been working diligently towards,” Cummings said.

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Atlanta United's high-tech, $60 million training facility opened for the team's inaugural 2017 season, a year before the team became Major League Soccer champions. The company remains mum on what it plans for its expansion, however. Catie Griggs, vice president of business operations for Atlanta United, said it was "premature" to provide details on the specifics of the new building. She also said it's too early to speculate on a timeline for construction and opening.

This particular land was under consideration by a company to build a Topgolf-like entertainment venue in Marietta. The city in 2018 entered negotiations and approved a contract to sell the property to Drive Shack, which had plans to build a 64,000-square-foot golf entertainment venue.

Drive Shack proposed opening an indoor/outdoor facility with 96 hitting bays on three floors. However, those plans were scrapped when the company gained a new CEO, and the City Council voted to terminate its contract with the company.

With that wrinkle now in the rear-view mirror, Mayor Steve Tumlin commended Thursday’s move, adding that Marietta is a “winning city in a winning county.” He told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that while he was “disappointed” with the breakdown of the deal with Drive Shack, Atlanta United’s commitment will have a positive impact on Marietta and Cobb County.

“This is amazing,” he said.