Our town: KennesawMixed-use development planned for summer 2015 completion

A vibrant central district with retail shops, restaurants, greenspace and wide sidewalks: This contemporary image of a pedestrian-friendly hub that has enjoyed favor in many areas of Atlanta is moving into the suburbs.

The historic Cobb County community of Kennesaw has a small downtown that’s home to a handful of restaurants, a smattering of antique stores and the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History. But by the summer of 2015, it will also boast a $38 million mixed-use development of apartments, shops and eateries along a stretch of Main Street that’s currently an empty lot.

“It’s a very attractive design with wide sidewalks, small outdoor plazas and seating, and architecture in keeping with the historic nature of downtown,” said Robert Fox, the city’s economic development director. “We feel it will be a real catalyst project that will encourage other developments and investments downtown.”

The revitalization plan that will anchor the corner of Main Street and Watts Drive has been in the pipeline for some time. City leaders have been trying to get it off the ground since 2008, but the economic downturn hampered efforts to acquire the 5.2-acre swath of land where it will sit.

“It had always been designated through our master planning,” said Fox. “There were a few delays when some owners in the area weren’t interested in selling their properties, but circumstances finally came together, and we were able to put together this assemblage [of land] right on Main Street.”

Along with the primary property, the project incorporates another seven acres of land with a creek and flood plain that aren’t suitable for building. But they will make an ideal greenspace. City officials convinced the county to take it over, and plans are in the works to add walking trails and benches through what is an historic piece of ground.

“The site has some significance as a Civil War encampment called Camp McDonald, but for years, it’s been just a large, wooded tract,” said Fox. “Now the county is developing a master plan for it to be a passive park.”

Along with the 12,000 square feet of shops and dining destinations, the project will feature 252 residential apartments and a multistory, free parking deck to accommodate residents and visitors alike.

“We’ve had a real need for public parking downtown for some time,” said Fox “We had a parking study done to see where the best place to locate parking was, and this spot is ideal, catty-corner from city hall. It will be great when we have events with a lot of demand for parking.”

In the last several months, Main Street has seen some renovations to existing buildings. The Trackside Grill has expanded and newcomer, Burger Fi, moved into a rehabbed space next door. The new complex is expected not only to add at least two or three more dining options, but to spur new development of other projects as well.

“We’re in the early stages of planning another mixed-use project near City Hall,” said Fox. “And we have three or four other projects in various stages. Our goal after this new project is to move forward on other ones we’ve been working on.”