Cobb County: Taking a Deep Breath
Austell is Cobb’s ultimate paradox – the county’s smallest city, with an official population around 6,000, is also the closest to Atlanta and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Don’t think locals haven’t noticed. “Austell is so small, it’s the surrounding areas that are really impacting us,” says Austell Community Development Director Jim Graham. “Cobb, Douglas and Paulding County are all growing so much, and they all seem to pass through our city.”
Graham chuckles as he says this, but growth has clearly impacted Austell, which imposed a 12-month moratorium on residential development in May. “We’ve just been impacted so much with growth, we have to take a deep breath, and see where we’re going for now on. What we’re really hoping for is to get quality developers into downtown, so they’ll see how unique we are, as well as our proximity to Interstate 20 and the airport, and do some major projects” – preferably of the mixed-use variety, like those in Marietta or Smyrna, he adds.
In the meantime, the city has been acquiring Livable Centers Initiative and Community Development Block Grants to help spur development in Clarkdale, Jefferson Street, Veteran’s Memorial and the Tradehead area, building on the success of Threadmill Complex, an old factory site, now about 95 percent occupied with a mix of businesses and government offices, including Georgia State Bank.
“We did pretty good, considering,” Graham says of Threadmill. “I think it’s created some businesses too – it’s given a lot of startups a chance, who wouldn’t have normally been able to afford a place outside their homes.”