11-20 Proposed Marietta property purchase.jpg

The Mill Street parking lot and old train depot, housing the Marietta Welcome Center, are set to be sold by the state to the city of Marietta and its downtown development authority.

Has Marietta taken a step toward solving its downtown parking problems? The Downtown Marietta Development Authority hopes so.

The DMDA voted Tuesday evening to buy a state-owned parking lot near the Marietta Square Starbucks for $167,713. The authority currently rents the 0.618-acre lot for a nominal fee.

Mayor Steve Tumlin, who serves on the DMDA, has pointed to the lot as the ideal spot for a multi-story parking deck to serve the city’s downtown. It is close to the popular Marietta Square Market, a short walk from the Square’s other amenities and is low-lying enough not to block views of Kennesaw Mountain, he said.

The mayor has said there are no immediate plans to build such a deck, but ownership of the lot means the city will have the ability to do so if it is deemed necessary.

A previous city plan for a 400-space parking deck at the site was priced around $4.5 million. The mayor and council have discussed either floating bonds to pay for a deck, or making it a project for a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

The DMDA has eight members: the mayor of Marietta, the Cobb Commission chairman, three elected by property owners in the district and three elected by business owners in the district. Its primary duty is to oversee development in Marietta’s historic downtown.

The DMDA’s special called meeting to approve the measure lasted less than 15 minutes, and the members spent more time signing and sealing the agreement than they did discussing it.

Speaking to the MDJ after the meeting, DMDA Chairman Tom Browning said the deal represents a big win for Square-goers and business owners.

“This is going to be very good for downtown businesses because it’s going to hopefully be used for parking, and the people will not have apprehension about ‘Can I go to the Square and shop and go to restaurants? I don’t know if I can find a place to park.’ Hopefully, this will fill that need,” he said.

The city has long had its eyes on the property, as well as the adjacent historic train depot building that serves as the home of the Marietta Welcome Center.

Previous overtures to former Gov. Nathan Deal were shot down. The Deal administration believed the property might someday be used as part of a future passenger rail line from Atlanta to Chattanooga. Gov. Brian Kemp apparently did not wish to hang on to the properties and his administration has agreed to let them go for prices Tumlin and others with the city have described as very generous.

The City Council voted unanimously to buy the 0.019-acre depot property late last month for $81,112. Tumlin has pledged the building, which was built in 1864, destroyed in the Civil War and rebuilt in 1898, will not be knocked down and said there are no plans to relocate the Marietta Welcome Center.

Before either deal can be finalized, it will need approval from the Georgia Properties Commission, which is chaired by Kemp. Members are scheduled to vote on the matter at their Dec. 12 meeting at the state Capitol.

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