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East Cobb redevelopment plan changed, but still controversial to some

03/21/2019 — Marietta, Georgia — A few stores inside the Sprayberry Crossing Shopping Center in Marietta, Thursday, March 21, 2019. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
03/21/2019 — Marietta, Georgia — A few stores inside the Sprayberry Crossing Shopping Center in Marietta, Thursday, March 21, 2019. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

The developer who wants to transform a dilapidated East Cobb shopping center into a mixed-use development has made another tweak to the long-awaited proposal.

Atlantic Residential's plans to redevelop the Sprayberry Crossing shopping center would now include an open air entertainment space and food hall, said CEO Richard Aaronson. The 17-acre site is at the corner of Sandy Plains and East Piedmont roads.

This component would be adjacent to the proposed 122-unit senior living apartments and surrounded on three sides by smaller retail uses such as food and beverage options, said Atlantic Residential CEO Richard Aaronson.

“The community wanted to have a use in the development that would be a benefit to them from the standpoint of usability,” he said.

The apartment buildings will be five stories high, which the developer said was necessary to incorporate more greenspace into the project.

RELATEDCobb judge: Sprayberry Crossing has to clean up its act ... or else

Other components of the plan include 11,700 square feet of office space, 30,000 square feet of space for a grocery store, 20,000 square feet of retail space, 50 town homes and 178 traditional one- and two-bedroom apartments.

The existing Mayes Family Cemetery, which will be incorporated into the development, will be fenced off and located behind the space planned for the grocery store.

Aaronson, whose company is under contract to purchase the shopping center, said the plans have been submitted to Cobb County's Community Development Department for review. Once the county reviews the plans, it must go before the Cobb Planning Commission, which will make a recommendation for approval or denial to the Cobb County Commission.

The 17-acre Sprayberry Crossing Shopping Center at the corner of East Piedmont and Sandy Plains roads would be redeveloped to include retail space, apartments, offices uses and an open air entertainment and food hall area.
The 17-acre Sprayberry Crossing Shopping Center at the corner of East Piedmont and Sandy Plains roads would be redeveloped to include retail space, apartments, offices uses and an open air entertainment and food hall area.

Credit: Atlantic Realty

Credit: Atlantic Realty

Opposition to some parts of the redevelopment plan is building in the community. A petition has been created and signed by more than 300 people expressing opposition. A Facebook group, Residents Against Apartments at Sprayberry Crossing, is also active.

East Cobb resident Tim Carini said he believes the proposal is too dense and that the five-story buildings are “obviously too high for the area.” The bulk of East Cobb’s residential character is single-family houses, so the apartment uses would not fit in with the current community makeup, he said.

“We don’t want to change the feel of the community by adding so many rentals,” he said.

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The shopping center has frustrated many East Cobb residents, many of them members of the Sprayberry Crossing Action group on Facebook. They have been pressuring the owners to address the dilapidated state of the property.

The shopping center came under scrutiny in 2018 when a Cobb County judge ruled that its owner, Sprayberry Crossing Partnership, had to clean up the property or face a blight tax. It was the first property targeted under a June 2017 ordinance approved by the Cobb County Commission establishing the tax, which would apply a sevenfold increase to the owners' property tax bill. County spokesman Ross Cavitt said the tax was factored into the owner's 2019 bill.

East Cobb resident Joe Glancy, who has been actively involved in trying to redevelop Sprayberry Crossing, said overall he is pleased with what Atlantic Residential has presented to the community. He said he believes Aaronson has been transparent and hopes residents use the upcoming public hearings to express their thoughts about the project.

“I believe they present a good opportunity for the community,” he said of the plans. “I hope the community and the developer both end up with a plan that’s of benefit to all. I believe that can happen.”