Council Co-Hosts with Cobb Competitve EDGE and Revitalize Marietta a Successful Rebuilding Cobb Development Forum
Cobb Redevelopment Forum at Riverside Epicenter
(Photo Credit: Council for Quality Growth)

On Thursday, August 20, 2015, over two hundred individuals attended the Cobb Redevelopment Forum, co-hosted by the Council for Quality Growth, Cobb's Competitive EDGE and Revitalize Marietta. A distinguished collection of representatives from development organizations met at the Riverside Epicenter for three panel discussions regarding Cobb County's accomplishments and future endeavors. All those in attendance were also provided the opportunity to hear remarks from Keynote Speaker Jeff Fuqua.

Panel 1: Cobb's Hidden Treasures: Incentive Tools
John VanBrunt, Darryl Simmons, Steve West
(Photo Credit: Council for Quality Growth)

The first panel featured John VanBrunt from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs; Darryl Simmons from the City of Kennesaw; and Steve West of Halpern Enterprises. The discussion centered on the tools, incentives, and public partnerships the City of Kennesaw used to spur its recent growth. Mr. VanBrunt detailed the supporting role DCA played in Kennesaw's local economic growth via use of items such as enterprise or opportunity zones which offer varying level of tax abatements for businesses that invest in the area. Mr. Simmons highlighted the innovative nature of Kennesaw's use of public private partnerships, as exemplified in the partnership with South City Partners to construct a roughly 14,000 sq. ft. of retail and apartment development called, "Revival on Main." 

Providing feedback on the private sector perspective, Mr. Halpern detailed how the prohibition of selling municipal bonds to fund infrastructure improvements and reductions in the city's tax base a few years ago impacted private developers.  But he stressed that those challenges did not hamper his optimism for either Kennesaw's or Cobb's future. He reminded the audience that his firm made its first investment in Cobb County in Smyrna in 1967, and that they continue to retain that property today. The message was clear: despite the natural ebbs and flows of the market, Cobb has always been and continues to be area worthy of investment.
Panel 2 : Where Are They Now? Franklin Road Progress. 
Joe Knight, Beth Sessoms, John Johnston
(Photo Credit: Council for Quality Growth)

The second panel discussed the efforts being made to revitalize the Franklin Road (You will recall that the focus at the first Cobb Redevelopment Forum in 2013 featured at $68 million dollar City of Marietta redevelopment bond which the Council strongly advocated for its successful passage). The panel consisted of Joe Knight from Strategic City Partners; Beth Sessoms of the City of Marietta; and John Johnston of The Home Depot. 

Due to its proximity to I-75, I-285 and U.S. 41, the corridor provides quick access to downtown and Midtown Atlanta as well as Buckhead. But developers and entrepreneurs have historically shied from the establishing roots along Franklin Road due to the presence of blighted apartments, the dearth of desirable amenities such as restaurants, and crime. At the conference, Ms. Sessoms reported on the City of Marietta's acquisition and demolition of key apartment complexes, including Preston Chase and Marquis Place. As irreputable units are being torn down, the corridor is seeing new owners come in and make significant structural, cosmetic and landscape renovations to the apartments which remain.
The most significant development exhibition of faith in the future of the corridor, however, is the relocation of The Home Depot's IT offices to Franklin Road. Mr. Johnston informed the audience on the factors which spurred the relocation. The primary factors included the affordable project cost; the available 6:1 parking ratio that would make any future expansion easier; the proximity to an emerging workforce offered by Kennesaw University's new Marietta's campus and Life University; and the strong levels of communication and support offered by the Gateway CID and the City of Marietta. 

Tax abatements aside, the strength of the corridor is expected to be its walkability and connectivity. KSU, Life University, and emerging businesses will find themselves connected by a series of paths which will likely be not only convenient but beautiful. Mr. Joe Knight mentioned that a landscape architect has already been hired to get the key highway exits to the corridor to resemble those at Town Center. "Our job as a CID is just to make it attractive...for both property owners coming in and residents," he said.

Panel 3: Connecting Communities
Mason Zimmerman, Ed McBrayer, Kyetha Clark, Ben Limmer
(Photo Credit: Council for Quality Growth)

Similar to the other panels, the third panel talked about the importance of connectivity in development. The panelists were Mason Zimmerman of the Town Center Area CID; Ed McBrayer of the Path Foundation; Kyetha Clark of the City of Marietta; and Ben Limmer of the Atlanta Beltline. Mr. McBrayer and Mr. Limmer shared their vision to expand the Silver Comet Trail down to Collier Road, where it could be connected to the Atlanta Beltline. The passion for creating regional connectivity was palpable. On a more local scale, Ms. Clark informed audience members on the City of Marietta's "Live Rotten" campaign, which seeks to promote a new Rottenwood Creek Trail route. Rottenwood Creek Trail's route runs through KSU-Marietta and Life University at Cobb Parkway. The route is part of investments being made to enhance safety and quality of life in Marietta, GA. With connecting trails continuing the route north to Kennesaw Mountain, west with Cobb County trails, and southeast to Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, this 3-mile trail segment gives families, bikers and runners, students, and commuters a wide range of play and transit options.

Keynote Speaker: Jeff Fuqua
(Photo Credit: Council for Quality Growth)

The Keynote Speaker, Mr. Jeff Fuqua, principal at Fuqua Development, spoke on his redevelopment efforts in Cobb County. According to the Marietta Daily Journal, Fuqua's firm is handling the retail component of the Atlanta Braves $452 million mixed-use development being built adjacent to SunTrust Park in Cumberland.

At the conference, Mr. Fuqua acknowledged how Cobb's strong customer support and streamlined permitting system facilitates economic development and attracts private sector investment, such those made by his firm. He also emphasized how the culture of facilitating business in Cobb works hand in hand with strong care for the communities the County serves, and that the satisfaction with governance in Cobb can be seen by the absence of any movements towards cityhood within its jurisdiction. He concluded his talks by praising the amenity and quality of life offered by Atlanta Beltline, and remarking on how this significant piece of infrastructure has encouraged development in parts of Atlanta previously overlooked.
Notable attendees who participated in the Rebuilding Cobb's Future discussion were Cobb County Commission Lisa Cupid and Chairman Tim Lee. The panels were moderated by Mr. Jeremy Becker of Council for Quality Growth member Jones, Lang, La Salle.
The Council for Quality Growth thanks all persons who participated and attended Thursday's Cobb Redevelopment Forum. 

Council for Quality Growth Seeks Team Captains for The Great Exchange Campaign

The Council is working as an Ambassador with the Gwinnett CID and others on a project you may be familiar with and read about in the papers, called "theGR8Exchange". The Great Exchange on Transportation is a week long grassroots effort to get residents and those who work in Gwinnett talking about their frustrations, concerns, or vision for the future of transportation in the area.

From August 24th to August 28th, those interested in participating in the dialogue will have multiple ways to get their voices heard by campaign organizers and Gwinnett County leadership.

WE NEED YOUR PARTICIPATION with the Council's Team.

We are asking those who live, work or invest in Gwinnett County, to attend one of many group conversations hosted by community leaders, non-profits, homeowner associations, or political organizations next week. Or even better, to serve as Team Captains and host a transportation conversation as part of the Council for Quality Growth Team.

For a complete listing of all conversations taking place next week or for more information on hosting your own conversation, visit

To download the Conversation Host Guide click HERE
If you would be interested in serving as a Team Captain or would like to attend the conversation hosted by the Council, email James Touchton at

See below for full details and links to the various ways of involvement. 

What is The Great Exchange on Transportation?
The Great Exchange (#thegr8exchange) is a grassroots effort in Gwinnett bringing people together to discuss one of the most pressing issues facing our community today: Transportation. A lot of people have been talking about what Gwinnett needs to do when it comes to transportation. The week of August 24th, Gwinnett residents and workers will have an opportunity to speak for themselves.

Why do we need a conversation on transportation?
The way we move and reach the places we live, work and love shapes our everyday lives. The Great Exchange is about beginning fresh, new conversations to create a common vision for how we want to connect the people and places that matter to us most. This a first-of-its kind effort to bring people from all over Gwinnett County together to share their views on the future of their community and the role transportation plays in shaping that future.

When and where is it happening?
During the week of August 24th, conversations about transportation will occur every day all over Gwinnett County - in coffee shops, in restaurants, in homes and in communities. We'll collect thoughts and ideas through a simple eight-question text survey.  TEXT "JOIN" to 74029.

Call to Action!  
  • Visit to pledge to have a conversation about transportation and to volunteer to help spread the word.
  • Text "Join" to 74029 and answer 8 simple questions about transportation in Gwinnett.
  • Forward this email to 5 additional people who you know are interested in transportation in Gwinnett. 
  • To serve as Team Captain or attend the conversation hosted by the Council, please email James Touchton at to learn more and join the team. 
  • Use the hashtag "theGr8exchange" to help the campaign go viral on social media. 

Thank you in advance for helping to shape the conversation.
City of Atlanta Technical Advisory Committee Updated on BKD Timeline and Approach
The City of Atlanta Technical Advisory Committee met at Atlanta City Hall on August 18th, 2015. Members of the Committee heard from Ms. Julia Mast, forensic accountant and senior consultant with the firm BKD CPA and Advisors. For the next six months, BKD and their partner, Fiscal Choice Consulting, will assist the City of Atlanta to streamline their present regulatory infrastructure. 

To achieve this, they will assess all opportunities for regulatory reform, culture and staffing improvements. They will also conduct a process and technology assessment and facilitate multiple community outreach events to ensure there is public support for the action plan that will be submitted to the City of Atlanta by January 2016.

A more specific breakdown of the timeline presented by Ms. Mast is as follows:

  • August and September: In the backdrop of ongoing data analysis, BKD will host a kick-off meeting and conduct interviews that capture a cross-section of community interests.
  • October and November: BKD will assist the City of Atlanta in addressing fixes which can be made right away. They will also develop a set of strategic recommendations regarding more complex concerns.
  • December and January: BKD will submit strategic recommendations for stakeholder review and validation. The Final Business Plan will provide a road map with strong accountability standards the City can use to transform the way they do business.  
To read more click HERE

New Figures Released on Millennial Housing Trends
Straddled by debt and unsettled in their careers, young Americans are increasingly delaying first-time homeownership. 

According to an article in Tuesday's Marietta Daily Journal, the typical first-time buyer of the millennial generation is 33 years old and rents for an average of six years before buying. One generation ago, the typical first time buyer was 30 years old and rented for an average of 2.6 years prior to buying. 

This trend is not surprising, as due to stagnant wages, the median price of a starter home is nearly 2.6 times the typical income earned by millennials. By contrast, in 1970, starter homes were just 1.7 times the median income for first-time buyers of a similar age. 

In major metropolitan areas, that disparity can be worse. Home prices in Seattle and Boston, for example are nearly five times the typical income. And though lower mortgage rates have made homeownership affordable to some, rapidly rising rental rates make it increasingly difficult for many others to save for a down payment and qualify for a mortgage. 

To read the Council's report from February 2015 on the Millennial Housing Trends, click HERE.

To read Tuesday's article from the Marietta Daily Journal, click HERE.


Sandy Springs Authorizes Temporary Moratorium on Rezoning Applications

Since Tuesday, July 21st, the City of Sandy Springs is no longer accepting rezoning applications for properties currently zoned A, AL, C-1, C-2, O-1, and MIX. In light of area's rapid growth, the 180 day moratorium was authorized by the Sandy Springs City Council to provide much needed time for City staff to review, evaluate, and update the City's comprehensive plan, zoning, and development standards. 

The Council for Quality Growth will provide input to the City during this process. An advisory panel of representatives from neighborhood, non-profit, and business interests was approved by the Sandy Springs City Council in early July. The panel will also provide feedback to City staff regarding possible changes to planning, zoning, and development standards. 


Properties to be developed for use in accordance with present zoning classifications are not impacted by the moratorium. A copy of the resolution can be found HERE.


2015 Four Pillar Tribute Honoring Dan T. Cathy - October 1, 2015
Council Seeks Fall Interns 
It is that time of year again when many undergraduate and graduate students are finalizing their spring semester schedules.  The Council is currently seeking independent, dedicated individuals to serve in fall unpaid internships with our organization  These internships will be structured learning opportunities geared to teach applications of public policy development.
Those seeking a bachelor's or master's degree in Public Administration, Urban Planning, Political Science or other Public Policy related areas of study will be most successful.  Other areas of study including Economics, Environmental Studies, Environmental Design or Engineering, Real Estate, Business Administration, and Geography are also welcome.  Interns will be expected to research various public policy issues affecting the agency, write articles for newsletters, and assist regular staff with formulating real public policies affecting our members.

Please Note: This is an unpaid internship.


Working schedule is flexible due to the responsibilities classes demand.
For a complete overview of the Council internship requirements and description, click HERE or contact James Touchton at


August 21, 2015

What are Council Members saying about their investment in the Council for Quality Growth?


Join the Council for the 2015 Redevelopment Forums! 


Contact Amanda Janaskie,, for sponsorship opportunities


Registration is open for Cobb and North Fulton. More details coming soon for Gwinnett. 





Atlanta Business Chronicle Highlights Council Advisory Committees



In a special section featuring the Council for Quality Growth and its Four Pillar Tribute, the Atlanta Business Chronicle featured the work of the Council's seven advisories and the role that they play in helping to shape the continued growth of the Metro Atlanta Region. The article features examples of the types of policies that have been influenced by Council Advisory committees, as well as quotes from Council members on the benefit that Advisories provide to their businesses.


To read the article, click HERE.

Click HERE to view the 2015 Advisory Committee Schedule. 

Click HERE to view a PDF of the 2015 Advisory Committee Schedule and Speaker Lineup 

The 2015 Calendar is updated weekly with new Speakers.  Be sure to go to the Council's Website at and click on the Events Calendar link for the most up-to-date 2015 calendar.

Events, Policy Highlights & Advisory Updates


Join The Council for Quality Growth!

To view a Membership Brochure, Click HERE

The Council for Quality Growth | 770-813-3370 |
5901-C Peachtree Dunwoody Road
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Atlanta, GA 30328