Marietta Mayor Steve “Thunder” Tumlin used the annual State of the City address to tout several positive developments, including that a German-based grocer wants to open its third Cobb location in one of the city’s vacant storefronts.
Lidl has submitted preliminary plans to use an empty storefront at 670 Whitlock Avenue. Tumlin revealed the news on Wednesday at the address given to the Cobb Chamber of Commerce Marietta Area Council.
Daniel Cummings, economic development manager with the city of Marietta, said the building has been vacant for more than 10 years. It housed an A&P grocery store until that closed down nearly three decades ago. Most recently, it was home to a gym and fitness center. Cummings said once Lidl formally submits its proposal to Marietta, city staff members will begin reviewing the documents. No public hearing dates have been assigned.
Lidl, which rhymes with needle, said it has more than 10,500 stores in 29 countries across the globe. It boasts a wide selection of beer and wine, as well as gluten-free and organic items. The Marietta store would be the third Lidl location in Cobb County. Other stores are located at 2641 Powder Springs Road in Austell and 4844 Floyd Road SW in Mableton. It also has a store on Stone Mountain Highway in Snellville.
Cummings said the store will provide a “new, fresh product” to residents who live on the west side of town. He also said adding Lidl to the lineup will give residents another option for groceries.
“There has been a need and interest in having more grocery options,” he said.
Councilman Johnny Walker, whose ward encompasses the proposed location, said the addition of a grocery store has been something his constituents have been clamoring for. He also said Lidl’s presence will help draw more customers to businesses in the surrounding area.
“It’s fantastic,” he said of the announcement. “We’ve been waiting a long time for this day.”
Mayor Tumlin said the building eyed by the grocer has been an eyesore for several years. The city tried to condemn the property, but was unsuccessful, and the gym business that was the previous occupier did not put any money into the structure, the mayor said. Tumlin said he hopes the store will not only serve those on the west side of town, but also will be used by those who live on or around Marietta Square.
“It’s more than a grocery store,” he said. “It’s will be a community experience.”
During his address, Tumlin provided an update on what’s happening around Marietta. He discussed WellStar Kennestone Hospital’s new $126 million Emergency Department building, Atlanta Hard Cider Co. beginning construction on phase one of its $1 million facility, Atlanta United’s plans to expand along Franklin Gateway, the opening of Marietta Square Market Food Hall, the William Root House Museum revamping its exhibit space and the federal government working to open a Veterans Administration clinic on Cobb Parkway at Bells Ferry Road.
Tumlin also said commercial and residential permits are up considerably from 2018, clocking in at 20 percent and 39 percent higher, respectively. About 800 new homes are currently either being built or seeking construction permits, he said. Across the city, office vacancy rates have dropped to 7.5 percent from 18.1 percent in 2013. The news is also good for multi-family vacancy rates, as that figure now hovers at 6.3 percent from 13.4 percent in 2009.
Marietta has a $315 million budget, the third largest budget for a city in the state. Residents can also be proud of the fact that elected officials have not had to raise the city’s property tax rate of 3.8 in the last 13 years, Tumlin said.
“We’re very, very proud of that because we are able to fully fund our public safety, parks, sanitation, public works (and) our administration for a well-rounded, full service city,” he said.
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