KENNESAW — An $87 million road project proposal in Kennesaw could improve traffic both on the ground and in the air.
The Kennesaw City Council heard a presentation Monday by the Cobb DOT and Kimley-Horn, a planning and design firm, about the potential road project.
The project started as a way to improve traffic flow between Kennesaw Due West Road, Cobb Parkway and McCollum Parkway. During the process, planners discovered other development benefits for the Cobb County International Airport safety zone.
The airport is currently unable to use the full length of the runway due to FAA regulations. The FAA requires 1,000 feet clear of obstruction beyond the end of the runway, but due to the proximity of Old 41 Highway, the airport is unable to use about 900 feet of runway, which limits the flights at the airport. The plan would eliminate use of McCollum and Old 41, and restore the safety zone.
Highlights of the plan include: streamlining of “z-movement” from Kennesaw Due West Road to McCollum Parkway by creating grade separation at Cobb Parkway and South Main Street, preventing trucks from driving through downtown Kennesaw, providing connectivity opportunities from Downtown Kennesaw to Noonday Creek Trail and maintaining east/west connectivity from Cobb International Boulevard to I-75.
The total estimated cost is almost $87 million. Funding has not yet been identified since the plan is in the early stages and still open to discussion, but there is a chance the county will seek federal funds. Planners expect the project will take two to three years.
Council member Pat Ferris expressed concern about the potential impact of continued growth of the airport.
“At what point do we all say, ‘This is what it is, live with it?’ ... There’s a huge negative impact in all this on the city of Kennesaw, our businesses and our residents,” Ferris said. “I cannot support it.”
Developers for Kennesaw Crossing Shopping Center, who are turning the 13-acre property that formerly housed the Electric Cowboy nightclub into a mixed use development, are seeking economic incentive assistance “due to significant project economics preventing the project moving forward.”
The project includes plans for a multi-family residential component, retail, office condos and a hotel.
JLV Kennesaw II, LLC and Newport Kennesaw Crossing, LLC initially requested about $800,000 in assistance, but upon review of the information, the Economic Development Committee recommended a total of $385,000 in permit fee abatement to move the project forward.
One of the major expenses at issue is the buyout of Electric Cowboy. According to Robert Fox, Kennesaw’s economic development director, the nightclub still had 5-7 years left on its lease, resulting in a $300,000 buyout. Without assistance, developers said they cannot move forward with additional demolition or make payment to Electric Cowboy, which is currently overdue by two weeks.
“Everything I’ve read through, as far as the hardships, haven’t been brought on by the city. We didn’t help you negotiate with the tenants, the $300,000 that you owe them. You basically negotiated with money you didn’t have,” said council member David Blinkhorn. “Why are we being asked to foot the bill for all these things that popped up that weren’t the result of the city?”
Attorney Joel Larkin responded that the developer initially intended to allow Electric Cowboy to operate during development, but the requirement that all demolition be completed within two years caused expenditures to move up and revenue was lost.
Blinkhorn asked that the developers return next week with a plan B explaining what they will do should the council vote against the agreement.