Last Wednesday, October 15, 2015, Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews addressed those in attendance at the Cobb Advisory Committee Meeting on the developmental projects within Kennesaw. The Mayor is proud to say, “The vision is taking shape.” Mayor Mathews, now serving his second term, is excited to see the results from the hard work he and his staff put forward.
The vision began taking shape in 2003 when a Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) study was conducted. The results of the LCI study centered on the following:
- Increasing residential density with a range of housing types to attract a wide spectrum of demographics
- Attract mixed use developments by constructing 2-3 story scale buildings with Main Street retail at street level
- Keep the existing architecture by encouraging adaptive re-use of existing structures, not losing the historic appeal of Kennesaw.
Stakeholders knew a disciplined, consistent approach over a long period would be needed as well as sustain change through elected officials and economic conditions.
There are three factors that would help yield to the development of downtown, the Main Street Project, the Dallas & Main Project and the Depot Park Master Plan. The Main Street mixed use development project is adding 250 apartments; scheduled for completion in summer 2015. The project incorporates the blueprint outlined in the Master Plan by creating a focal point in the downtown area where retail and restaurants can thrive. A Walkability Study conducted in 2013 provided direction for future development on enhanced connectivity and pedestrian access. Kennesaw wants to mirror urbanization trends across the county as tenants are drawn to walkability, proximity to work, and cultural density. Research has shown, millennials are more inclined to be in the center of activity where access to shops, restaurants and nightlife are minutes away from their front door. Mayor Mathews realized the survival depended on residents living downtown. The close proximity of Kennesaw State University and other key attractions had the potential of revitalizing downtown Kennesaw and bring an element that would attract broader demographics outlined in the LCI study.
The Dallas & Main project will begin construction in early 2015, adding 160 units, and expect completion in 2016. The Depot Park Master Plan is an integral component of establishing a “cultural campus” which includes the Southern Museum, an amphitheater and pedestrian plaza. Pedestrian connectivity is also a focus; the tunnel under the CSX tracks provides safe passage from Depot Park to Main Street. A community-wide trail system connection to downtown is complete. The Plaza on the main street side connects to the sidewalk network and provides a more intimate public gathering place. Future plans call for connection to KSU and Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.
Like many cities in the Metro Atlanta Region, Kennesaw is victim to traffic congestion. Kennesaw plans to reduce traffic jams by reconfiguring roads to facilitate north-south-east-west circulation while improving pedestrian safety. The proposed SPLOST for 2016 includes a major project to construct a new CSX Railroad overpass which will reconfigure portions of downtown. The current SPLOST provided preliminary engineering field surveys and right-of-way acquisition supporting downtown road improvements.
There are still a number of projects on the horizon: regional storm water improvement, sanitary sewer upgrades, new intersection signalization and streetscape improvements. All current and future projects have kept the mission of Kennesaw alive: Honoring Our Heritage, Forging Our Future.