A rendering of the 338,000-square-foot Ikea proposed for Franklin Gateway in Marietta. 
Photo: (Courtesy of the city of Marietta)
Photo: (Courtesy of the city of Marietta)

Marietta mayor talks Ikea and the city’s biggest issue (HINT: traffic)

There was a very Marietta affair Tuesday: Mayor Steve “Thunder” Tumlin gave his state of the city address to business folks amid the smell of Williamson Bros. Barbecue at the Mansour Conference Center — about a tenth of a mile from the Big Chicken.

Tumlin’s 20-minute speech hit several topics, but many spoke to the mass amounts of ongoing development in what used to be a railroad resort town.

The hottest topic was Ikea, which announced in December its plans to bring its second metro Atlanta store to Franklin Gateway.

The area of Marietta once plagued by crime is now getting a facelift as not just Ikea but Atlanta United and Topgolf competitor Drive Shack move in.

Tumlin said Ikea is about to file its permit with the city. 


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A rendering of the Ikea proposed for Franklin Gateway in Marietta. (Courtesy of the city of Marietta)

The Swedish sweetheart that makes city developers drool recently canceled its plans for stores in Nashville and Arizona.

When asked about the future of Marietta’s store, Tumlin said it is more likely to move forward for one reason.

“The difference here is they own the property,” he said.

Indeed, the international furniture giant is under a $9.25 million contract to purchase 28 acres from the city for the proposed 338,000-square-foot store.

Drive Shack bought 17 acres for $9.5 million to create its indoor/outdoor golf facility of 64,000 square feet that will have 96 hitting bays on three floors. It’ll join Atlanta United’s $60 million training complex, which has already been used a couple seasons.

All that’s peanuts compared to SunTrust Park, which is in its second year of housing the Atlanta Braves.


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Tumlin, a Marietta native, said some days he’d have to wait for the afternoon newspaper to get the Braves scores.

On Friday, he spoke to thousands at the Cobb County stadium and watched Dansby Swanson, a fellow Marietta High Blue Devil, have a three-run homer off Stephen Strasburg in the seventh inning.

“It’s just hard for me to fathom we’ve come this far,” Tumlin said.

Attached to SunTrust is the mixed-use behemoth of restaurants and shops called The Battery Atlanta, “which is only second to the Marietta Square for entertainment,” Tumlin said to a room of chuckles.


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Coming to The Square is a 18,000-square-foot mixed-use complex in the style of Atlanta spots-to-be-seen Krog Street and Ponce City markets.

The developers of Marietta Square Market, which would be about a seven-minute walk from its namesake, have changed plans to more of an open-air building, Tumlin said.

Elsewhere on the Square, two natives are set to make Glover Park Brewery downtown’s first place for fresh beer.

Tumlin said that brewery is likely to come to fruition on Atlanta Street before Wise Owl Brewing, which hopes to open nearby.

Even with all the development, there’s one project that hasn’t come knocking.


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“Best I can tell, Amazon hasn’t stepped over the north side of the river.”

He thinks he knows why.

“We’re too expensive,” the mayor said, adding that the city doesn’t have the “millennial-type” housing he assumes the company would require for its second headquarters.

Tumlin said that even without Amazon, Marietta has a problem on the roads: cut-through traffic.

He said drivers are zipping through neighborhoods and he gets calls from mothers who say they’re afraid to let their children play outside.

When Lockheed Martin employed thousands more locally than it currently does, Tumlin said people used to complain about “Lockheed traffic.”

“And now, it’s seven days, it’s every hour,” he said. “But it’s a symptom of success.”


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Speaking of Swanson...

James Dansby Swanson was born Feb. 11, 1994 in Kennesaw.

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