Town Center CID

2020 Annual Report

Thinking Forward

In January, that’s how our team decided to approach 2020. By March, it was clear our plan, like so much else, was not going to proceed as expected. How could we intently think forward while confronting a pandemic and the ensuing disruption and confusion that pervaded our community, state and beyond?

At our core, we are planners and creators, so this uncertainty was a shock to the system. However, we are also problem solvers. Therefore, we decided our promise of thinking forward had to take on a different meaning.

Thinking forward in the context of 2020 meant persevering and carrying through to the other side. Instead of waiting and anticipating, we looked at what was within our control. The team paused a moment and analyzed the projects at hand – what could be completed this year and what would need to hold. By taking that moment, our team was able to settle into the “new normal” and thrive.

That brief moment gave us the time we needed to adjust and push ourselves in different and unique ways.

 

We were able to keep our projects on schedule and we saw new highs in attendance rates for our virtual meetings and Lunch-n-Learns. Most significantly, we maintained our momentum. We are so grateful to our partners who continued working to move things forward alongside us – we would not be able to accomplish our goals without their hard work.

During a tumultuous year, we showed ourselves and our community our fortitude. In this spirit, we rededicated ourselves to thinking forward and looked to the future of Town Center and the CID. We renewed our lifecycle for another six years and began updating our master plan to ensure thoughtful growth. In 2022, we plan on celebrating our 25th anniversary and breaking ground on the largest infrastructure project in the history of Town Center, not missing a beat with our goals, priorities and plans.

This year and in the future, we will continue to focus on thinking forward because we remain more committed than ever to making Town Center a vibrant, thriving, inviting metro community.

LETTER FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Steve Jobs once said, “People with passion can change the world for the better.” In Town Center, passion is undoubtedly key for community improvement work. In fact, passion is what’s helped us most throughout this year.

Despite 2020’s trials and tribulations, the CID made significant advances on projects and initiatives. We maintained momentum and continued projects that will substantially impact our district, due largely to the remarkable dedication, creative thinking, and, you guessed it, the passion of our team.

Most notably, we secured the final funding for South Barrett Reliever Phase 3, which means we are one huge step closer to a groundbreaking next year.

We also made headway on many studies, the largest of which explores the potential of a smart corridor along Chastain Road. The virtual nature of our public meetings allowed us to gain more input than ever before and the study findings will usher in a wave of new, more modern enhancements.

Read More

Finally, I am proud to see the Town Center Community Alliance take flight this year, in more ways than one. I can confidently say our nonprofit partner has come into its own as an innovative driver for creative placemaking, collaboration and community engagement in our region. This small, yet mighty organization is passionate about making Town Center truly a place where people want to be.

I am incredibly grateful for the team we have here at the CID. The board never wavered and our staff forged on with positivity and determination. We saw this same strength and spirit from our remarkable partners and were able to accomplish much amidst a year of great uncertainty. Their collective passion for ensuring Cobb County and our region continues to flourish is evident every day.

Thank you all for your dedication and commitment to our communities, and of course, your passion. It’s the special ingredient that kept us all moving – and thinking – forward.

Sincerely,


Tracy Rathbone Styf
Executive Director

The Town Center CID is a self-taxing district comprising more than 275 commercial property owners.

We strive to be good stewards of their investment and harness the district’s growth to drive meaningful projects that support and enhance what the area has to offer. With thoughtful and creative planning of transportation, greenspace and development, we promote the future of our district’s business, environment and community.

11

Active Infrastructure Projects

5

Active Placemaking Projects

$169.6M

Funds Leveraged

(since 1997)

$58.5M

Invested

(since 1997)

6.25

Square
Mile District

8.55

Miles
of Trails

5.7M

sq ft Office &
Retail Space

$1.8B

Real Estate
Value

8

Interstate
Access Points

1

Full Managed
Lanes Interchange

34+

acres of
Greenspace

South Barrett Reliever Readies for the Endgame

With Funding Procured, Project Becomes Part of Regionwide Vision

Total Cost: $48.8M

In a historic development for our infrastructure projects, Phase 3 of the South Barrett Reliever received $15 million in an amendment to the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The largest single contribution in the CID’s history, it demonstrates that our project is strongly positioned within the larger conversation of the regional transportation plan.

This funding allows us to move forward with constructing the most significant infrastructure project in our history. For the past 10 years, the South Barrett Reliever has epitomized our vision for the district. Thanks to our team’s commitment to thinking forward, we’ve secured our highest financial commitment to date, after two years of negotiations.

South Barrett Reliever Phase 3 will extend from Phase 2 over I-75 and the Managed Lanes to Roberts Court. The addition of an east-west connection offers an alternative to the frequent congestion on Barrett Parkway, which we expect this project will reduce by 22%. The new corridor also creates an inner loop that increases access to residential and retail areas for both vehicles and pedestrians. In 2020, Arcadis completed the final design with a 3D digital model, and we proceeded with right-of-way negotiations with Cobb County.

Picking Up in 2021

In 2021, we expect to complete right-of-way acquisition and advertise the project for construction in the fall. We anticipate the completion of Phase 3 in 2023.

STUDIES

Planning Drives Momentum

Lifecycle of a Project:

We imagine a future for Town Center that is idealistic and transformative. But most importantly, it’s achievable. To help make our vision a reality, we focus heavily on our studies. The behind-the-scenes nature of studies means they’re not as visible to the public as finalized projects. Yet, these massive undertakings are essential to thoughtful improvements and growth.

Picking Up in 2021

Because we have completed multiple studies over the last two years, we will advance five projects into preliminary engineering in 2021. They will range from intersection improvements to landscaping.

Chastain Road LCI Corridor Study

We conducted this study to analyze the connectivity of our inner corridors and determine potential changes that would benefit the community. The study draws a roadmap for potential projects that will help shape redevelopment to make the corridor more welcoming and pedestrian-friendly. Its recommendations include a Complete Streets network with smart technology for safe and efficient multi-modal travel and enhanced streetscapes for a more cohesive sense of place.

Explore recommendations on Chastain Road for yourself in this interactive story map.

Town Center CID Chastain Road Study

Click on the image for a larger view

Picking Up in 2021

Next year, we will begin to execute both short- and long-term improvements that together build a comprehensive corridor transformation. Projects recommended in the study include streetscapes, pedestrian amenities, green infrastructure, intersection improvements, smart technology, placemaking and urban design.

South Barrett Reliever Phase 4 Feasibility Study

This study analyzed the conditions surrounding Barrett Parkway and the I-75 and I-575 interchanges to determine the feasibility of an extension of the South Barrett Reliever. Although the study found the proposal would not provide a considerable reduction in traffic or drive-times, it still provides value to the CID. This study helped us understand the potential impacts of this project, which include interstate constraints, environmentally sensitive areas and overall costs.

Bells Ferry Road LCI Operational Study

Prompted by the area’s growth, we are moving forward with a study of Bells Ferry Road. In 2020, we awarded this study to our consulting partner, Gresham Smith, who will aim to understand the roadway’s operational function. Bells Ferry Road receives the impact of varied movement every day, including vehicular travel, pedestrian and bicycle activity, trail users, traffic from the Managed Lanes at Big Shanty Road, and movement from nearby retail, residential and elementary schools.

Picking Up in 2021

In 2021, we will continue collecting data along the corridor so we can understand the current conditions. This information will help shape potential solutions for traffic relief that would have the least impact on the surrounding community and align with planned county improvements.

Digest Analysis

Our latest digest analysis will gather information on all of the parcels located within the CID. By understanding ownership, capacity and uses, we will serve our stakeholders and the district as a whole in a more cohesive manner. This information will be reflected in the Master Plan update and provide a crucial resource as we plan for the future of the district.

Picking Up in 2021

With over 250 parcels in the district, the analysis and data verification will continue into 2021. Continued work and collaboration will occur with Cobb County and the City of Kennesaw. Mapping and information will become available on the TCCID website toward the end of the year.

INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS

Enhancing Connectivity and Safety

Infrastructure improvements are a vital catalyst in achieving our vision for Town Center. Each of the following projects plays a part in improving safety, connectivity and quality of life. We are focused on changes that make an impact today as well as prepare Town Center for the future of mobility, so that our strategic updates and enhancements meet the needs of cars, trucks, bikes and pedestrians that move throughout our district.

Throughout the year, the CID team convened our partners to accomplish dozens of infrastructure projects. Although we held all our meetings online, it did not affect our work on the ground. Each project is on track to be completed on schedule and within its planned budget.

Projects completed in 2020

Bells Ferry Road Trail

In pursuit of further safe and attractive mobility options, we helped coordinate construction of a new trail segment from the Bells Ferry Trailhead to Big Shanty Road. A complement to the Noonday Creek Trail’s entry point, this 8-foot path is suitable for pedestrians and bicyclists alike. This sidewalk was funded through the Cobb County SPLOST program.

Big Shanty Sidewalk

This project received funding from the Transportation Enhancement (TE) program through Georgia DOT. With our County partners, it constructed a 10-foot-wide sidewalk on the south side of Big Shanty Road that stretches from Chastain Meadows Parkway to Bells Ferry Road. This stretch provides an inviting connection for pedestrians to access the Noonday Creek Trail, thanks to the new Bells Ferry Road Trail.

Asset Management

An inventory of our assets is critical to meticulously thinking forward. In 2020, we took stock of our crosswalks, sidewalks, benches, traffic lights, ADA ramps and much more. We recorded characteristics including material, dimensions, location and ownership. With this data, we will be able to better prepare for future maintenance and make necessary planning decisions for projects.

Implementation Plan for Big Shanty Road and Barrett Lakes Boulevard

This plan prioritizes the nearly 70 projects identified in 2019’s Big Shanty Road and Barrett Lakes Boulevard Corridor Study. The final report details cost estimates as well as potential partners for each project. It forecasts the proper short-, mid-, and long-term initiatives, which helps our team plan other improvements and coordinate with County efforts in the immediate area.

Duncan Road Intersection Improvement

This project stemmed from our findings in the Barrett Lakes Corridor Study. At Duncan Road and Barrett Lakes Boulevard, engineers observed a convergence of industrial vehicles, single-occupancy vehicles and pedestrians crossing along the Noonday Creek Trail. This prompted us to look closer at improvements for this complex intersection that would reduce stress for pedestrians and bikes, maintain traffic flow, account for future traffic growth, address truck concerns and improve safety.

We developed several concepts which include reducing road crossings for trail users, relocating a signal pole, upgrading the traffic signals and constructing a pocket park on the southwest corner. We anticipate moving into preliminary engineering for the recommended safety improvements in 2021.

Ongoing Projects

Regional Connected Vehicle Program

We worked with ARC, Georgia DOT and Cobb County to initiate a Regional Connected Vehicle program that will bring smart technology to our district’s corridors. In 2020, we contributed $102,000 to this regional project that will help us implement technology such as transit signal priority and emergency vehicle preemption, which we wrote about here.

This project exemplifies our efforts to find the best solutions to improve safety, commute times and traffic management in our district. With this program, Town Center and the region are preparing for the age of intelligent transportation systems, as car manufacturers begin to add Connected Vehicle technology to their new models.

Picking Up in 2021

The project will be managed at the state level. In 2021, the team will begin to analyze locations and strategies for implementation.

Phase 2 Rendering

Busbee Trail

In 2020, we worked with Cobb County on right of way acquisition for Phase I of the Busbee Trail. The project will create a 10-foot-wide path, which will extend from the Skip Spann Connector to Chastain Road.

This trail will address several aspects of our vision for the district. It will add a connection to our existing trail network and invite more bike and pedestrian activity, especially for KSU students and transit riders.

Picking Up in 2021

We expect to have right of way finalized in early 2021. Our next step for this project is to move into construction and break ground by summer.  Phase II, which will continue south on Busbee Drive from Chastain Road to the CobbLinc Transit Station, is anticipated in the future.

Traffic Light Improvements

In October, Georgia DOT initiated a project to upgrade the traffic lights at several intersections in the County, including Barrett Parkway and I-75. The CID has contributed funds to the project to ensure all materials match the aesthetic guidelines for the district.

Picking Up in 2021

Georgia DOT is expected to install the new traffic signals in 2021.

Sidewalk Inventory and Gap Analysis

In 2020, we received funding from the ARC’s Community Development Assistance Program (CDAP) to conduct a district-wide inventory of our sidewalks and multi-modal trails. In this project, we are analyzing where our sidewalks exist, where there are gaps, particularly in terms of proximity and connections to grocery stores and healthcare facilities. This will help us improve mobility options for pedestrians, so they can have a safer route to destinations within their community. With this information, we can also plan for connections and renovations associated with future projects initiated by the CID and the County.

Picking Up in 2021

We will continue this analysis until the inventory and summary is complete. ARC will be producing renderings to demonstrate sidewalk needs in specific locations.

Projects Beginning in 2021 and Beyond

Noonday Creek Trail Pedestrian Bridge Over U.S. 41

In 2020, we created a concept rendering to support our applications for funding the preliminary engineering for this project. The pedestrian bridge will provide a safe solution for Noonday Creek Trail users to cross Cobb Parkway, a wide and busy state route.

This project stemmed from our 2019 Noonday Creek Trail LCI Study, which found that there was far less activity on the west side of the trail due to safety concerns. The project will also extend the trail, adding scenic overlooks of our natural wetlands to invite more engagement and provide essential infrastructure to our regional trail network.

George Busbee Corridor Improvements

George Busbee Parkway forms one side of the inner loop created by South Barrett Reliever Phase 3. This stretch from Barrett Parkway to Chastain Road provides access to several destinations in the core of the district. A Complete Streets concept was developed in 2018, highlighting transportation improvements, a multi-use trail, lighting and landscaping. Phase 1 of this project will begin in 2021 with preliminary engineering.

District Lighting Plan

Pedestrian and vehicular lighting throughout the district will enhance visibility and safety for our multi-modal corridors. Phase 1 implementation will begin in 2021, targeting Big Shanty Road from Barrett Lakes Boulevard to George Busbee Parkway.

Marketing and Outreach

Small Business Heroes

As health regulations thrust our society into new structures and routines, we were moved to find more ways to connect to our community. So, we created a Small Business Heroes series that celebrated the achievements of our neighbors.

We shared the stories of more than a dozen small business owners who were using their resources to step up and help those in need. By fulfilling the public longing for feel-good news, we were able to connect with a broader community and shine a light on opportunities to support our local businesses. Our features were bolstered by a cover story in Cobb in Focus magazine.

Awards for Digital Marketing

We saw wonderful success in the communications and outreach we created specifically to be shared online. In 2020, we received three awards that recognize excellence in design, video production and writing.

The Next Era of the Alliance

In 2020, the Alliance reached a new peak in its maturity and completed unique projects that are making a mark in our district and beyond.

As the public sought safe ways to spend time outdoors, creative placemaking took on new significance in everyday life. The ways in which we add substance, character and warmth to our shared spaces are not only resonating with our community but demonstrating our impact to potential partners. It’s on the heels of this success that we look towards the next era of the Alliance.

We focused on the following goals as we continued to think forward:

  • Convene and engage the community
  • Increase connectivity
  • Inspire creativity for public space activation
  • Amplify communications

We updated our mission and vision and adopted values to guide our work.

Mission

Invest in projects that enhance the quality of life in the Town Center area, including parks and greenspace to conserve and protect the environment, public art and activation that inspires the community and programs that actively engage people of all ages.

Vision

A vibrant, creative Town Center community with enhanced public spaces, preserved green spaces and collaborative economic development.

Values

Community.
Collaboration.
Creativity.

We also focused heavily on our board development and recruitment. Most new nonprofit organizations struggle to recruit influential board members. However, we are proud to share the Alliance has moved beyond our founding board and prepared to add four new board members in 2021. Read our “thank you” to our visionary founding board chairman, Mason Zimmerman, here.

Picking Up in 2021

As we move into 2021 and beyond, the Alliance is poised to engage the community in creative placemaking discussions and implement more programs in the district. When our initial five-year strategic plan comes to an end in 2022, we will have completed or made significant progress on most of our planned projects. Beginning in 2021, to coincide with the CID’s master plan update, the board will look toward a new strategic planning process. We expect our areas of focus to continue to be Aviation Park, public art and activation, communications and bikeshare.

Alliance Projects

In 2020, the Alliance continued projects that focused on creative placemaking, connectivity enhancements and STEM education, and it created new ones that added public art. As the public’s appreciation for art and shared space activation continues to increase, we hope the community will become more involved in free and accessible outdoor educational opportunities.

Aviation Park Phase 2

Where Education and Art Come Together

Phase 2 of Aviation Park officially took flight in 2020 with a first in the county—the installation of a restored and refurbished 1964 Beechcraft A-23 Musketeer airplane. Visitors will notice its custom tail number, N20RYY, is a nod to the Cobb County International Airport and the installation year. Mounted near the park’s entryway, the airplane will become an icon of the park and the centerpiece of a permanent special exhibit, “Mechanics of Motion.”

Along with seven additional exhibits, this piece will transform Aviation Park into an exploration of aviation that will delight all ages using elements of art, education, recreation and fun. This year, the Alliance curated and designed signage for the park entryways, plane display and the anchor exhibit, “Mechanics of Motion.” We also made strides to secure funding for the exhibits “Lessons in Liftoff,” “What Happens Up There” and “Wheels to Wings.”

Listen to our exclusive interviews with legendary Cobb County aviator Larry Thompson before hearing them at Aviation Park!

Watch our plane installation at Aviation Park in time lapse.

Donors:

524 Creative
Brahma Marketing
Cobb EMC Community Foundation
DLK Aviation
DeNyse Co.
Fly LBI Inc.
Georgia Trade School
Hawthorne Global Aviation
Priority Jet

Picking Up in 2021

The Alliance will continue to pursue funding for the remaining Phase 2 exhibits and hopes to complete the installation of “Mechanics of Motion” by summer 2021. We will also launch a community programming calendar and host a variety of public events at Aviation Park’s open green space.

Trail Activation

Making Outdoor Spaces Come Alive

Noonday Creek Trail

The Noonday Creek Trail is a valuable resource that attracts visitors from all over and presents significant opportunities for creative placemaking. In 2020, we issued a call for artists to partner with us to develop installations along the 7-mile trail that will improve aesthetics, provide wellness opportunities and encourage community building. Our newly formed Public Art and Activation Committee is focusing on guiding the possibilities from the artists, as well as those outlined in our 2018 activation plan, such as creative seating, crosswalk art, sculptural art, creek overlooks, upgraded railing, archways, gardens and assorted trail furnishings.

Picking Up in 2021

We are proud to share that the Marietta Arts Council invited us to host their Fence Gallery, a traveling art program that showcases local artists along community trails. The Noonday Creek Trail will host the gallery in Q1.

Chimney Swift Tower

A shining example of a form-meets-function piece is our new chimney swift tower. We partnered with Georgia Audubon and artist Christina Ward to create and install a tower that is part mural, part habitat for local chimney swifts. The tower is located adjacent to the Noonday Creek Trail north of Town Center at Cobb mall and has educational signage for a passerby to learn more about the purpose of the piece.

Picking Up in 2021

It can take up to a year for chimney swifts to find their new home on the trail. Georgia Audubon will monitor our tower, and once the swifts have nested, they plan to host Swift Nights for bird-lovers to watch the flock’s tornado-like descent.

Bikeshare 2.0 

Just as public health guidelines sent society outdoors in droves, our bikeshare provider became one of the many victims of 2020’s struggling economy and shut down. This was a major setback for the CID, Alliance and bikeshare members, so we needed to find a resolution that would preserve this critical opportunity for outdoor recreation and safe gathering.

Soon after the shutdown news, we found a solution that not only got our program back on its feet but marked a step towards a regionally connected bikeshare program. We began a 12-month partnership with a new bikeshare management and software provider, in collaboration with Cumberland CID. Together, we decided to use the same system, which enables riders to use either CID’s bikes and stations interchangeably. The connected system also sets the stage for successful collaborations throughout Cobb, as it highlights our county’s trail connectivity.

To rollout the relaunch, we ran an email, social media and PR campaign, updated our website content and released a ribbon-cutting video. As a result, we made headlines throughout metro Atlanta and signed up nearly 300 users in the first month.

Picking Up in 2021

It is our goal to return to our former record-holding membership and ridership numbers and continue our search for a permanent bikeshare partner. We will maintain our priority of developing a regional bikeshare system and lead partnerships in this area to connect more bikeshare programs throughout Cobb County.

Thank you to our Alliance members who are helping us shape Town Center through community, collaboration and creativity!

Influencers

 
4 Seasons Landscaping
524 Creative
Cobb EMC
Elder Law Firm
Gresham Smith
LGE
 

Supporters

Doran Commercial Real Estate  |  Geo-Hydro Engineers, Inc  |  Marietta Power & Water  |  Walton Communities

Connectors

Denyse Co.

Keeping Town Center Beautiful

The CID proudly takes charge of keeping our district clean and attractive. Every year, we invest more than $700,000 for maintenance and beautification, which includes everything from simple structural repairs to enhancing our natural surroundings. We put a considerable portion of our budget towards these projects and provide 100% of funding because these visual improvements add value to our district, create a distinct sense of place and make a positive impact on our community.

By clearing litter, installing landscaping, and renovating medians and road paving, we can encourage increased use of our public spaces and add to our community’s vitality and quality of life. Visual improvements are also proven to increase physical and psychological health, raise property values, and attract new businesses and residents. While they may seem small, these important initiatives go a long way in keeping our district looking its best.

Local and State Partnerships

We are grateful for each of our incredible partners and collaborators who are helping us create a thriving region. Together, we can persevere through unpredictable times and make a difference for our communities.

Thank you!

 
 

2020 Financial Overview

Total Commitments: $2,063,399

Town Center CID
Staff


Tracy Rathbone Styf

Executive Director
Town Center CID
tracy@towncentercid.com

Jennifer Hogan
Director
Town Center Community Alliance
jennifer@towncentercid.com

Alisha Smith
Director of Projects and Planning
alisha@towncentercid.com

Luci Morgan
Communications and Outreach Manager
luci@towncentercid.com

Kathy Sommerfeldt
Office Manager and Bookkeeper
kathy@towncentercid.com

Lynn Rainey
Legal Counsel

Town Center CID
Board Members


Kelly Keappler,
 Chairman
President of Quintus Development,
Quintus Corp.

Dan Buyers, Vice Chairman
Partner,
McWhirter Realty Partners

Darin Mitchell, Treasurer
Executive Director,
Chase

Tracy Rathbone Styf, Secretary
Executive Director,
Town Center CID

Jo Ann Chitty, Director
Senior Vice President,
Selig Enterprises

Britt Fleck, Director
Regional Director, Metro West Region,
Georgia Power

Steven Cadranel, Director
President
Arris Realty Partners

Marie Moore, Director
General Manager,
Simon Property Group

Town Center
Community
Alliance
Board Members


Mason Zimmerman
, Chairman
Senior Managing Partner,
Pope & Land

Kelly Keappler, Vice Chairman
President of Quintus Development, Quintus Corp.

Ken Harmon, Treasurer
Professor of Accounting,
Kennesaw State University

Tracy Rathbone Styf, Secretary
Executive Director,
Town Center CID

Chip Kaczynski
Owner,
FLY LBI Inc.

Ryan Maltby
Director Revenue Cycle,
Fresenius Medical Group

Christina Martin
Director Service Strategy,
Kaiser Permanente, Georgia Region