Galleria-Braves Stadium Bridge on Delay

The plans for the proposed multi-use bridge over Interstate 285 to connect the Galleria complex with the new Atlanta Braves Stadium is being met with praise and caution.
Cobb County Board of Commissioners Chairman, Tim Lee's decision last month to delay the go ahead on the project, will allow the group that owns the Cobb  Galleria, as well as the real estate co that owns much of the Galleria Campus, to gather more information needed to make a decision on the project.

Last week, Earl Smith, a former county chairman and member of the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum & Exhibit Hall Authority's Board, said he and other members of the board have been pushing for this delay since the preliminary designs for the bridge were presented to the board in early July. "We need to get everything on the table that we think will affect us and the bridge.  I think this gives us a lot of time to get all the input and digest it all," Smith said.

Smith expressed a similar sentiment at the Exhibit Hall Authority's July meeting.  "Preliminary designs for the bridge showed one of its landing points would use a parking deck now owned by the Exhibit Hall Authority, resulting in the Galleria losing almost 100 parking spaces, and that the authority knows exactly how the bridge will affect the Galleria's business.  We're making decisions here that will affect us  greatly," Smith said.  "Everyone here at this meeting believes and happily supports, the Braves coming to Cobb.  But at the same time, we have a facility here, and we have a great responsibility to the people we've represented over the years,  and to whom we have tried to provide entertainment for.  And I want us to take the time to sit down, get into the details,  and see exactly how this is going to affect us."

"The Exhibit Hall Authority has plans to build a hotel adjacent to the Galleria Centre.  It has also commissioned a study to determine the feasibility of the hotel, and its impact on the Galleria's business,  which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.  In order for a circulator bus that the county plans to implement in the Cumberland area, to use the bridge, the upper deck of the bridge would need to be reinforced to accommodate the extra weight from the shuttle.  And,  the new hotel would likely impact the use of the parking deck as well, so the county will wait for the results of the hotel study before moving forward on the bridge project, or else there will be conflict," he said.  Additionally, the Real Estate Company of Childress Klein Properties, which owns and manages six high-rise office buildings in the Galleria area, as well as many of the roads around the Galleria's Campus, has a study in the works to determine the impact of the new stadium and various road improvement projects in the area, on their businesses. 

Connie Engel, a partner at Childress Klein and a board member of the Cumberland Community Improvement District, also said last week, that she understands why Lee made the decision to delay the bridge project.  "It makes sense that we consider everything, and get all the information that everybody needs, and that we all have different requirements that need to be understood, before moving forward.  It seems to make a lot of sense to me, to do that." Engel said the study her company is working on is something any property owner would do when a project the size of the new Braves stadium and mixed-use development moves in nearby.  She said the study will likely be complete by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the Braves believe the bridge will play an important part in the connectivity of the Cumberland area, but the organization was not counting on the project being complete when the stadium opens, according to a statement provided by Beth Marshall, spokesperson for the Braves.  "We were prepared for the potential that it would not be ready for the Opening Day of 2017,"  the statement reads.  We will continue to work closely with the county, our partners in the development and area landowners,  to provide adequate parking and safe travel to the ballpark.  The safety of our fans and other visitors to the development is paramount, and we will provide multiple avenues to accommodate their safe passage."
"One of us could come up with the answers, but we cannot do it alone, because it affects others, so we've got to move together," he said.
"That's saying a lot.  But we've got time and we've got a lot of players."