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End Confederate Memorial Day

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From the Very Unofficial Governor of the State of Georgia for Today
A Proclamation
Civil War History Month


WHEREAS: All state offices are closed today for Confederate Memorial Day, a state holiday not to be confused with next month’s (Unionist?) Memorial Day;

WHEREAS: Since Gov. Nathan Deal is out of the office today, and because he did not issue a proclamation this year about Confederate History and Heritage Month, I hereby issue my own proclamation through the wholly imaginary power of proclamatus in guberno abstentia;

WHEREAS: Confederate Memorial Day falls on the 27th this year, but in 1874, the Georgia Assembly officially named the “26th day of April in each year” as Confederate Memorial Day. The day recognizes Confederate States Army Gen. Joe Johnston’s surrender to Union Gen. William T. Sherman at Bennett’s Farm in North Carolina 150 years ago. The Civil War ended for more than 89,000 Southern soldiers on this day a century and a half ago, representing the largest surrender of the Civil War, even larger than Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. While the fighting wouldn’t truly end until later that year, April 26, 1865 marked the end of major hostilities;

WHEREAS: Georgia’s governors have issued many proclamations over the years in the lead up to Confederate History and Heritage Month. In recent years, these proclamations have recognized southern white women (2002, 2003, 2014), Native Americans (2005, 2010), Jewish Americans (2009), and John Pemberton, the inventor of Coca-Cola and as it turns out, a lieutenant colonel in the Confederate Army (2006). Conspicuously omitted is any mention whatsoever of slavery or the plight of African-Americans. In 2012, the proclamations stopped referencing the “Civil War,” instead calling the conflict the “War Between the States,” a label supported for more than a century by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a group whose false claims include saying that it is “difficult for historians to agree on the war’s basic causes” (no, it isn’t) and the Confederate flag was “recognized all over the world as belonging to a nation” separate from the U.S. (no, it wasn’t). Perhaps we should just be thankful we’re not calling it “The War of Northern Aggression”;


WHEREAS: For years, the state of Georgia informally recognized all of April as Confederate History and Heritage Month, though it became official when the Georgia Assembly passed Senate Bill 27 in 2009 . A shockingly small number of Georgia’s state senators and representatives voted against SB 27. (Current Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Senator Ronald B. Ramsey, Sr. provided the only two “Nay” votes in the state Senate );

WHEREAS: SB 27 urged all Georgians to “honor, observe, and celebrate the Confederate States of America, its history, those who served in its armed forces and government, and all those millions of its citizens of various races and ethnic groups and religions who contributed in sundry and myriad ways to the cause which they held so dear”;

WHEREAS: I wonder who these “millions” of contributors of “various races and ethnic groups and religious” could possibly have been considering the Confederates were a pasty bunch;

WHEREAS: The name of the particular “cause which they held so dear” goes unspoken, though I can tell you it starts with “s-” and ends with “-lavery.” (Not “-tates rights.”) Georgia’s ordinance of secession wasn’t so bashful about the “cause” of the war, as shown in its second sentence: “For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery.” Robert Toombs, in his farewell address to the U.S. Senate, excoriated his Northern colleagues for their efforts to “upturn our social system,” “steal our slaves,” “make them freemen to vote against us,” and “bring an inferior race in a condition of equality, socially and politically, with our own people.” The Confederate Constitution, largely cribbed from the original U.S. version, differed significantly in one way: it very specifically made slavery the eternal law of the land, and included the phrase, “No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.” Or put succinctly, no backsies on slavery;

WHEREAS: SB 27 urged Georgians to “commemorate and honor our shared history and cultural inheritance.” I imagine most African-Americans, who make up 31 percent of the state’s population, might not want to celebrate the Confederacy. Nor would the Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans who make up 14 percent of the state, or any minority group for that matter. Nor would the millions of Northerners who have moved to Georgia over the past few decades, many of whom had ancestors fight for the Union. Come to think of it, I don’t think most white people like me who were born and raised in the South — owners of the Confederate flag license plate notwithstanding — identify in the slightest with Georgia’s antebellum culture of enslavement;

WHEREAS: The story of the Civil War is complex, as we can see in the pro-Union bent of the people living in the South’s mountain regions. Even the case of Gen. William “Make Georgia Howl” Sherman, the burner of Atlanta, isn’t a simple one. In 1864, he wrote to Atlanta Mayor James Calhoun, “When peace does come, you may call on me for anything. Then I will share with you the last cracker, and watch with you to shield your homes and families against danger from every quarter.” The following year at Bennett’s Farm, Sherman offered his Confederate counterpart Gen. Johnston terms of surrender much more generous than Grant had offered Lee. They were so generous, in fact, that the Cabinet had to rescind Sherman’s original offer;

WHEREAS: The Confederate Memorial Day and Confederate History and Heritage Month neither represents modern Georgia, nor captures the complexity that makes the our state’s Civil War past so interesting. The Civil War, a conflict in which more Americans died than in all other U.S. wars combined, deserves and demands to be studied in all its various aspects;

WHEREAS: This month should be a time when Georgians make every effort to learn something new about the Civil War. We could visit the battlefield at Kennesaw Mountain instead of the granite relief at Stone Mountain. We could get a close-up a view of the Confederate Constitution (and all its warts) at the University of Georgia. We could make a brief stop at the Confederate soldier burial ground in Oakland Cemetery or the Slave Life exhibition at the Atlanta History Center. We could get out of our cars to view the monuments dedicated to Union General McPherson and CSA General Walker, both in East Atlanta. Or we could take a day trip to Andersonville prison, Fort Pulaski, and the Tubman African-American Museum in Macon. (Really, y’all should just get out there and do anything that teaches you about this painful, yet fascinating era in Georgia’s history);

THEREFORE: I, PAYSON SCHWIN, Very Unofficial Governor For A Day of the State of Georgia, do hereby proclaim April as CIVIL WAR HISTORY MONTH and April 26 as CIVIL WAR MEMORIAL DAY in Georgia.

In witness thereof, I have hereunto set my hand and have as of yet not figured out how to cause the Seal of the Executive Department to be affixed this 27th day of April in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen.

Payson Schwin
Very Unofficial Governor For A Day

Payson Schwin is an Atlanta writer.




420 Atlanta
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2020 Calendar


More By This Writer

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  string(44) "In Cobb County, the poor are being bulldozed"
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  string(20778) "In mid October, Kimberly Hunter, along with the other residents of Magnolia Crossing in South Cobb County, came home to letters on their doors telling them to vacate their apartments by the end of January. Their complex had been set for demolition.

"We're not prepared," Hunter said last fall. "Not with three months time. You can't be prepared."

Hunter, a mother of seven, doesn't own a car. She'll apartment hunt using CCT, the bare-bones transit system that serves sprawl-ravaged Cobb County. She doesn't know where she'll find the money to move on such short notice. She'll need money for a moving truck ($50 for the truck, several hundred dollars if she hires movers), nonrefundable application fees ($50 apiece), a security deposit, and her first month's rent. She must also continue to pay rent at Magnolia until she moves out.

Two weeks after being notified, she and other residents gathered at a community open house hosted by governmental organizations, including the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority, Cobb County Schools, and the Marietta Housing Authority. A handful of nonprofits and private apartment management companies were also there.

In a letter distributed at the open house, the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority explained that residents would receive between $250-$1,000 to help with the transition, depending on how soon they move out. But even with the money, many residents will struggle to find new homes.

"Their rent is way higher, a lot more," Hunter says of other apartment complexes in the Six Flags area. "It's not easy."

image-1
Magnolia Crossing consists of several bland two-story apartment buildings. Residents say it's not exactly an idyllic place to live, but the apartments offered affordable housing in an area where it's increasingly scarce. Eric Valenzuela says his neighbor was burglarized three times in two months. Magnolia resident Rashedra Pitts says that whenever she asked the management company about rumors of Magnolia Crossing's imminent destruction, they would "deny, deny, deny" it. (Efforts to reach Magnolia Crossing's management were unsuccessful.)

"For them to just try to spring it on everyone, it's kind of messed up, but I expected it to happen," Pitts says. "This place is horrible."

Online reviews of Magnolia Crossing contain allegations of crime, bug infestations, mildew, and faulty electrical wiring. A fire once forced residents to jump from balconies to safety, with one person breaking an arm in the process.

Yet people still chose to live here for one reason: low rent — about $450 for an 840-square-foot one-bedroom, according to residents. At nearby complexes — even those lacking common amenities like swimming pools and gyms — the cheapest apartments of similar size rent for more than $600 a month.

"My heart goes out for my neighbors," says Mattia Bolton, a Magnolia resident. While she and her husband don't know where they'll live next, Bolton says they'll be OK because she and her husband have enough income to cushion their transition. But as for some of her neighbors, "If they were struggling to pay 400 and something dollars a month, moving is going to be a lot, a burden, and I can imagine there's going to be some homeless," she says.

image-3
In 2015, Cobb County Commissioner Lisa Cupid led a successful effort to pass a $10 million bond to fund Magnolia Crossing's purchase and additional infrastructure improvements around Six Flags Drive. SCRA, the organization in charge of the bond issuance and redevelopment process, spent $3.7 million on the 120-unit complex in October. The Marietta Housing Authority is temporarily managing the complex. Once all the residents have moved out, SCRA will raze the apartments and put the 35-acre property on the market.

Cupid says she'd like to see the eventual owner put in a mixed-used development, complete with restaurants and a grocery store, capable of "revamping the area in a catalytic manner." Despite the property's proximity to Interstate 20, it might be a tough sell given the surrounding area's 26 percent poverty rate and $36,080 median household income — much lower than the $56,166 metro Atlanta average.

In the mid-20th century, local, state, and federal officials across the country embarked on ambitious programs to clear homes and apartments to make way for interstates, stadiums, and other public works projects, all in the name of progress. "Urban renewal" policies, called "slum removal" by some, often had another, often unstated purpose: to eliminate areas of concentrated poverty, not through better services or outreach, but by dispersing residents to parts unknown.

The city of Atlanta's urban renewal policies leveled the homes of thousands in the 1960s in Downtown neighborhoods with the promise of economic development. But for the residents able to remain in the surrounding areas, the revitalization never materialized around the new highways and stadiums.

A half century later, elected officials in Cobb County have taken a page from that playbook to practice their own form of suburban renewal. They hope that by firing up the bulldozers, they'll pave the way for economic development. The previous efforts should give them pause, however, because prosperity has not always followed demolition.

pageimage-2
Cobb County, particularly the more affluent areas of Vinings and East Cobb, conjures images of McMansions with manicured lawns, upscale strip malls, and new grocery stores. The area has long been a draw for well-off families looking for large homes, low taxes, and excellent schools.

But in the last decade, Cobb County has experienced some dramatic demographic shifts. The poverty rate has doubled since 2000 to 12.8 percent, and the county has become more racially diverse, with its percentage of white residents dropping from 95 percent in 1980 to 64 percent today.

A number of factors have contributed to the changes, including rising intown housing costs, large numbers of immigrants settling in the suburbs, and the demolition of the city of Atlanta's public housing.

The number of affordable housing units hasn't kept pace with demand in Cobb, in part because suburban counties have historically favored zoning for single-family homes over multi-family, and large lots over more affordable smaller lots. Cobb, whose population has more than tripled since 1970 thanks to homes generally priced for middle-class families, now has one of the lowest amounts of affordable units available to impoverished households in the country.

A shortage of affordable housing is a nationwide problem, according to the Urban Institute's Erika Poethig, with only 28 affordable, available, and adequate housing units for every 100 extremely low-income U.S. households, defined as a family of four earning $20,000 a year.

"Supply is not keeping up with demand," Poethig says. "That is a problem that if I zoom into Cobb County will come up in sharp relief."

image-9
Since 2000, the number of affordable units per 100 Cobb County households dropped from 21 to 9. In an Urban Institute housing study released last year using 2013 data, the most recent available, Cobb and Gwinnett tied for second-worst ratio out of the country's 100 largest counties. DeKalb was close behind. (Cobb ranked dead last in the previous year's study.)

The increasingly difficult search for housing takes its toll on suburban working families and has "real consequences for their livelihoods," Poethig says. Families are forced to move around a lot, which impacts childhood development. Rising rents affect decisions about what food to buy, resulting in consequences to personal health. The very basic human need — shelter — becomes a factor in all other aspects of a person's life.

"Housing actually becomes a gateway or inhibitor to opportunity," says Nathaniel Smith, founder and Chief Equity Officer at the Partnership for Southern Equity. "Where you live decides whether you have access to a good school, whether you have access to a good hospital, whether you have access to good fruits and vegetables."

It also determines how easily one can find a job. A recent Brookings Institution study found only 21.7 percent of metro Atlanta jobs are accessible within a 90-minute transit ride, putting the region near the bottom among American cities.

Finding an apartment with transit access is crucial for people like Hunter who depend on it. And even if she finds another place near a bus stop, her work isn't done. "Then you have to transfer schools," she says.

"One of the local schools, Riverside Intermediate, said they have over 40 kids that live in Magnolia Crossing," Albert McRae of the Austell Community Task Force says. "You're talking about 40 kids who are getting ready to go through a transition."

Beyond managing federal housing programs at the local level, Cobb County government does little to encourage the renovation or construction of affordable housing. Instead, it opts for the destruction of the few affordable complexes and calls it revitalization. Many of the demolitions have occurred in predominantly African-American and Hispanic communities.

"One thing the MHA has gotten good at in the last 10 years is tearing stuff down," MHA head Pete Waldrep told the Marietta Daily Journal in January 2015. "We know how to move people. We know how to relocate people, and get it torn down efficiently."

The MHA manages affordable housing in Cobb. Most of the non-senior public housing MHA used to operate in Cobb was demolished by 2013. As Waldrep told the MDJ last year, "We are out of the public housing business." The MHA still manages a few affordable housing complexes, but all of them — save for the 50-unit Henry Hull Homes complex in Acworth — are reserved for seniors or the disabled.

The MHA does administer the distribution of about 3,400 Section 8 federal rental assistance vouchers being used in the county as well as various programs that encourage home ownership. The organization also works with private developers to help them apply for low-income housing state tax credits to subsidize construction of new senior housing developments.

As for the county working to encourage more low-income housing construction, Cobb Chairman Tim Lee doesn't think government should play a role.

"We have the responsibility to provide a competitive environment for the development community to respond to the economic conditions, and that's where it stops," Lee said in an MDJ interview about SCRA's plans for Magnolia Crossing last November. (Lee did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story.)

Private developers have difficulty building and operating low-income housing at a profit without government help. The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies recently pointed out that the "private sector cannot profitably supply very low-cost units" and the "government must play a critical role in ensuring that the nation's most disadvantaged families and individuals have good quality, affordable housing."

Over the last five years, Smyrna has used public funds to raze a 10th of the city's rental apartments. One of the city's more high-profile projects was the $16 million purchase and destruction of the 728-unit Hickory Lakes complex in 2010.

Smyrna's original plan for the cleared property listed a corporate campus, mixed-use development, hospital, or even a "sportsplex" as possible future uses. But city officials struggled for several years to find a buyer before finally selling it at a $2 million loss. The purchaser, Southeast Capital Companies, is building a single-family development on the site called Smyrna Grove, with plans for nearly 200 homes in the $350,000-$450,000 range.

image-6
Marietta's vision for Franklin Road can be described as Hickory Lakes on steroids. In 2013, Mayor Steve "Thunder" Tumlin put forward a plan to spend $68 million purchasing and knocking down apartment complexe s along a mile-and-a-half stretch of the road between South Marietta Parkway and Delk Road.

The Marietta City Council put a redevelopment bond on the ballot and voters approved it by 433 votes, raising their own property taxes in the process to pay for the demolition project. Marietta purchased four properties totaling 92 acres — Flagstone Village, Woodlands Park, Preston Chase, and Marquis Place — that contained a total of 1,334 rental units.

As in Smyrna, Marietta officials had big plans. A 2009 redevelopment proposal called for the creation of a Global GreenTech Corridor, described as an "ecosystem where business, academia, and government collaborate in building the renewable energy technologies of the future." Home Depot opened a new IT center near Franklin Road in October and will benefit from up to $200 million in separate county tax incentives over the next decade. Still, the result looks less like Silicon Valley and more like Summerhill in the '60s.

After a brief dalliance with DeKalb County, Arthur Blank is near an agreement with Marietta to build the training facility and main office building for Atlanta United FC, his Major League Soccer franchise launching in 2017, along Franklin Road.

image-7
The deal is a good one for Blank. While the final terms are still being worked out, the team will lease the property where Flagstone Village and Woodlands Park once stood — property that Marietta taxpayers spent at least $50 million clearing — for $1 a year for 10 years. After that, the team will pay an inflation-adjusted rate starting at $320,000 per year for at least a decade, with the option to renew the lease for two additional five-year terms. The city also agreed to help the team apply for a 10-year tax abatement that will significantly reduce its tax bill.

pageimage-4
At Cobb's southern tip sits an attraction that, over its nearly 50 years in operation, has failed to bring sustained, long-term economic vitality to the surrounding area — Six Flags Over Georgia. A couple miles from the theme park sits Magnolia Crossing, which has been targeted for redevelopment for years.

"Because of the foreclosure of Magnolia Crossing in 2002, it's come up on our radar because it had been on the rolls for quite some time," Cupid says. "With the conditions on that site, and its location, it lent itself to consideration quite early on."

Future plans for Magnolia Crossing are in flux, but a decade-old study of the Six Flags corridor envisioned a "destination/activity center, complete with parks and greenspace, new multi-family housing opportunities, and new mid-range retail outlets." SCRA Chairman Ed Richardson has said the property could become a "launch pad for mixed-use development."

Cupid would like to see development bring new amenities to the area, such as a grocery store, banks, a public library, and a police mini-precinct. She says they want places to convene, such as restaurants.

Cupid is also pushing for more robust workforce development programs, infrastructure improvements like new sidewalks, and better transit options, including a new bus route to link residents to jobs at the new Braves stadium.

McRae says that while he appreciates Cupid's efforts to revitalize the area, he wonders what impact the initial bond money can have.

"I know there's a movement to revitalize the area and continue to get developers in there. And I think the whole economic redevelopment of the area probably has some momentum for that," he says. "You can't do all that with $10 million, I don't think."

image-5
"I'm trying to stay in this area because of my job," says Trent Walker, who's lived at Magnolia Crossing for three years and works just a few blocks away. "It might be kind of tough."

Hard data on where displaced residents like Walker wind up is hard to come by. In the case of Franklin Road, the MHA was only able to collect information from about half the residents, with a portion of them moving out of the city or even the state.

"Families moved to the Six Flags area because it was affordable," says Monica Delancy, a member of the Austell Community Task Force who's working with Magnolia Crossing residents during the transition. "Now that they've started tearing down apartments, apartments start raising their rates. Those families, they're going to have nowhere to go to. Not in Cobb County."

Sonia Fischer and her daughter Makiyyah are two of Magnolia Crossing's residents at risk of becoming homeless. At a recent Cobb Commission meeting, they asked commissioners to push their move date back and provide additional moving assistance.

"I'm one of the children affected by what's going on at Magnolia Crossing Apartments," Makiyyah, age 8, said. "I am afraid of becoming homeless. I am in third grade and I am doing very well in school. I don't want anything to mess that up. Please don't do this to my family."

Makiyyah's not alone in facing a change in the middle of the school year. McRae, who's been working closely with the residents, says there are around 150 children in the Cobb County School System currently living at Magnolia Crossing. "We want to answer the question whether these families are not good enough to stay in Cobb County," McRae says. "We all want better development in South Cobb. We all want to bump up our quality of life. With that said, what's the route that we take?"

If Cobb officials did decide to change course and increase the amount of affordable housing for families like those at Magnolia Crossing, they have several options available. They could use bond financing to subsidize the construction of low-income housing. San Francisco will do just that after voters overwhelmingly approved a $310 million affordable housing bond referendum in November.

Officials could also mandate that new apartments set aside a certain percentage of units for low-income renters through inclusionary zoning. Although Cupid expressed support for the idea, it's unlikely Cobb County will implement it.

image-8
"Unfortunately, from what I've heard from some of the local commission leaders in Cobb and Gwinnett, people aren't as open and amenable to doing that," Executive Director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute Taifi Smith Butler says. "They want a strong property tax base, so they're looking at those luxury units because it will drive property taxes."

Other cities around the country provide examples of how Cobb could work with private and philanthropic partners to subsidize the development of more housing. In Chicago, the nonprofit Community Investment Corporation disperses funds pooled together from local banks and relends that capital at lower rates to owners to help them improve their rental properties and keep them affordable without subsidy.

Through the Housing Partnership Equity Trust (H-PET), philanthropic organizations such as the MacArthur and Ford foundations have teamed with Prudential, Citibank, and Morgan Stanley to work with nonprofit housing developers to purchase dilapidated apartment complexes, fix them up, and rent out units to low-income residents. So far, H-PET has funded four projects in Virginia, California, and Illinois.

According to Poethig, these innovative initiatives are "helping nonprofits preserve affordable rental housing. You can be a very proactive city leadership when you recognize that this is a problem you're trying to solve for."

City and county leaders in Cobb, however, remain focused on managing the destruction of their existing rental housing stock. They believe their efforts will benefit the affected communities within a few years.

"It's going to take time, but I think you're going to see some major changes over the next five to 10 years for Franklin Road," Marietta's Economic Development Manager Beth Sessoms says. "The goal is to bring businesses back that will create jobs and help bring the area back to what it used to be years ago."

As for the residents who had to move out, Marietta Communications Manager Lindsey Wiles believes their situation will be improved. "These people deserve better. And some of these people don't know they deserve better."

Kate Little, relationship manager of the non-profit housing and community development group Georgia Advancing Communities Together, isn't so sure demolishing apartment complexes and selling the land to developers will benefit the county's displaced residents.

"If you're just tearing down units and you're not thinking about how those units are replaced or where those people go, you shouldn't couch it as you're doing them a favor by de-concentrating poverty," Little says. "What you're really doing is increasing homelessness or adding to overcrowding. I think people would rather be concentrated in poverty with a roof over their head as opposed to de-concentrated and on the street.""
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  string(20824) "In mid October, Kimberly Hunter, along with the other residents of Magnolia Crossing in South Cobb County, came home to letters on their doors telling them to vacate their apartments by the end of January. Their complex had been set for demolition.

"We're not prepared," Hunter said last fall. "Not with three months time. You can't be prepared."

Hunter, a mother of seven, doesn't own a car. She'll apartment hunt using CCT, the bare-bones transit system that serves sprawl-ravaged Cobb County. She doesn't know where she'll find the money to move on such short notice. She'll need money for a moving truck ($50 for the truck, several hundred dollars if she hires movers), nonrefundable application fees ($50 apiece), a security deposit, and her first month's rent. She must also continue to pay rent at Magnolia until she moves out.

Two weeks after being notified, she and other residents gathered at a community open house hosted by governmental organizations, including the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority, Cobb County Schools, and the Marietta Housing Authority. A handful of nonprofits and private apartment management companies were also there.

In a letter distributed at the open house, the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority explained that residents would receive between $250-$1,000 to help with the transition, depending on how soon they move out. But even with the money, many residents will struggle to find new homes.

"Their rent is way higher, a lot more," Hunter says of other apartment complexes in the Six Flags area. "It's not easy."

[image-1]
Magnolia Crossing consists of several bland two-story apartment buildings. Residents say it's not exactly an idyllic place to live, but the apartments offered affordable housing in an area where it's increasingly scarce. Eric Valenzuela says his neighbor was burglarized three times in two months. Magnolia resident Rashedra Pitts says that whenever she asked the management company about rumors of Magnolia Crossing's imminent destruction, they would "deny, deny, deny" it. (Efforts to reach Magnolia Crossing's management were unsuccessful.)

"For them to just try to spring it on everyone, it's kind of messed up, but I expected it to happen," Pitts says. "This place is horrible."

Online reviews of Magnolia Crossing contain allegations of crime, bug infestations, mildew, and faulty electrical wiring. A fire once forced residents to jump from balconies to safety, with one person breaking an arm in the process.

Yet people still chose to live here for one reason: low rent — about $450 for an 840-square-foot one-bedroom, according to residents. At nearby complexes — even those lacking common amenities like swimming pools and gyms — the cheapest apartments of similar size rent for more than $600 a month.

"My heart goes out for my neighbors," says Mattia Bolton, a Magnolia resident. While she and her husband don't know where they'll live next, Bolton says they'll be OK because she and her husband have enough income to cushion their transition. But as for some of her neighbors, "If they were struggling to pay 400 and something dollars a month, [moving is] going to be a lot, a burden, and I can imagine there's going to be some homeless," she says.

[image-3]
In 2015, Cobb County Commissioner Lisa Cupid led a successful effort to pass a $10 million bond to fund Magnolia Crossing's purchase and additional infrastructure improvements around Six Flags Drive. SCRA, the organization in charge of the bond issuance and redevelopment process, spent $3.7 million on the 120-unit complex in October. The Marietta Housing Authority is temporarily managing the complex. Once all the residents have moved out, SCRA will raze the apartments and put the 35-acre property on the market.

Cupid says she'd like to see the eventual owner put in a mixed-used development, complete with restaurants and a grocery store, capable of "revamping the area in a catalytic manner." Despite the property's proximity to Interstate 20, it might be a tough sell given the surrounding area's 26 percent poverty rate and $36,080 median household income — much lower than the $56,166 metro Atlanta average.

In the mid-20th century, local, state, and federal officials across the country embarked on ambitious programs to clear homes and apartments to make way for interstates, stadiums, and other public works projects, all in the name of progress. "Urban renewal" policies, called "slum removal" by some, often had another, often unstated purpose: to eliminate areas of concentrated poverty, not through better services or outreach, but by dispersing residents to parts unknown.

The city of Atlanta's urban renewal policies leveled the homes of thousands in the 1960s in Downtown neighborhoods with the promise of economic development. But for the residents able to remain in the surrounding areas, the revitalization never materialized around the new highways and stadiums.

A half century later, elected officials in Cobb County have taken a page from that playbook to practice their own form of suburban renewal. They hope that by firing up the bulldozers, they'll pave the way for economic development. The previous efforts should give them pause, however, because prosperity has not always followed demolition.

[page][image-2]
Cobb County, particularly the more affluent areas of Vinings and East Cobb, conjures images of McMansions with manicured lawns, upscale strip malls, and new grocery stores. The area has long been a draw for well-off families looking for large homes, low taxes, and excellent schools.

But in the last decade, Cobb County has experienced some dramatic demographic shifts. The poverty rate has doubled since 2000 to 12.8 percent, and the county has become more racially diverse, with its percentage of white residents dropping from 95 percent in 1980 to 64 percent today.

A number of factors have contributed to the changes, including rising intown housing costs, large numbers of immigrants settling in the suburbs, and the demolition of the city of Atlanta's public housing.

The number of affordable housing units hasn't kept pace with demand in Cobb, in part because suburban counties have historically favored zoning for single-family homes over multi-family, and large lots over more affordable smaller lots. Cobb, whose population has more than tripled since 1970 thanks to homes generally priced for middle-class families, now has one of the lowest amounts of affordable units available to impoverished households in the country.

A shortage of affordable housing is a nationwide problem, according to the Urban Institute's Erika Poethig, with only 28 affordable, available, and adequate housing units for every 100 extremely low-income U.S. households, defined as a family of four earning $20,000 a year.

"Supply is not keeping up with demand," Poethig says. "That is a problem that if I zoom into Cobb County will come up in sharp relief."

[image-9]
Since 2000, the number of affordable units per 100 Cobb County households dropped from 21 to 9. In an Urban Institute housing study released last year using 2013 data, the most recent available, Cobb and Gwinnett tied for second-worst ratio out of the country's 100 largest counties. DeKalb was close behind. (Cobb ranked dead last in the previous year's study.)

The increasingly difficult search for housing takes its toll on suburban working families and has "real consequences for their livelihoods," Poethig says. Families are forced to move around a lot, which impacts childhood development. Rising rents affect decisions about what food to buy, resulting in consequences to personal health. The very basic human need — shelter — becomes a factor in all other aspects of a person's life.

"Housing actually becomes a gateway or inhibitor to opportunity," says Nathaniel Smith, founder and Chief Equity Officer at the Partnership for Southern Equity. "Where you live decides whether you have access to a good school, whether you have access to a good hospital, whether you have access to good fruits and vegetables."

It also determines how easily one can find a job. A recent Brookings Institution study found only 21.7 percent of metro Atlanta jobs are accessible within a 90-minute transit ride, putting the region near the bottom among American cities.

Finding an apartment with transit access is crucial for people like Hunter who depend on it. And even if she finds another place near a bus stop, her work isn't done. "Then you have to transfer schools," she says.

"One of the local schools, Riverside Intermediate, said they have over 40 kids that live in [Magnolia Crossing]," Albert McRae of the Austell Community Task Force says. "You're talking about 40 kids who are getting ready to go through a transition."

Beyond managing federal housing programs at the local level, Cobb County government does little to encourage the renovation or construction of affordable housing. Instead, it opts for the destruction of the few affordable complexes and calls it revitalization. Many of the demolitions have occurred in predominantly African-American and Hispanic communities.

"One thing [the MHA has] gotten good at in the last 10 years is tearing stuff down," MHA head Pete Waldrep told the ''Marietta Daily Journal'' in January 2015. "We know how to move people. We know how to relocate people, and get it torn down efficiently."

The MHA manages affordable housing in Cobb. Most of the non-senior public housing MHA used to operate in Cobb was demolished by 2013. As Waldrep told the ''MDJ'' last year, "We are out of the public housing business." The MHA still manages a few affordable housing complexes, but all of them — save for the 50-unit Henry Hull Homes complex in Acworth — are reserved for seniors or the disabled.

The MHA does administer the distribution of about 3,400 Section 8 federal rental assistance vouchers being used in the county as well as various programs that encourage home ownership. The organization also works with private developers to help them apply for low-income housing state tax credits to subsidize construction of new senior housing developments.

As for the county working to encourage more low-income housing construction, Cobb Chairman Tim Lee doesn't think government should play a role.

"We have the responsibility to provide a competitive environment for the development community to respond to the economic conditions, and that's where it stops," Lee said in an ''MDJ'' interview about SCRA's plans for Magnolia Crossing last November. (Lee did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story.)

Private developers have difficulty building and operating low-income housing at a profit without government help. The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies recently pointed out that the "private sector cannot profitably supply very low-cost units" and the "government must play a critical role in ensuring that the nation's most disadvantaged families and individuals have good quality, affordable housing."

Over the last five years, Smyrna has used public funds to raze a 10th of the city's rental apartments. One of the city's more high-profile projects was the $16 million purchase and destruction of the 728-unit Hickory Lakes complex in 2010.

Smyrna's original plan for the cleared property listed a corporate campus, mixed-use development, hospital, or even a "sportsplex" as possible future uses. But city officials struggled for several years to find a buyer before finally selling it at a $2 million loss. The purchaser, Southeast Capital Companies, is building a single-family development on the site called Smyrna Grove, with plans for nearly 200 homes in the $350,000-$450,000 range.

[image-6]
Marietta's vision for Franklin Road can be described as Hickory Lakes on steroids. In 2013, Mayor Steve "Thunder" Tumlin put forward a plan to spend $68 million purchasing and knocking down apartment complexe s along a mile-and-a-half stretch of the road between South Marietta Parkway and Delk Road.

The Marietta City Council put a redevelopment bond on the ballot and voters approved it by 433 votes, raising their own property taxes in the process to pay for the demolition project. Marietta purchased four properties totaling 92 acres — Flagstone Village, Woodlands Park, Preston Chase, and Marquis Place — that contained a total of 1,334 rental units.

As in Smyrna, Marietta officials had big plans. A 2009 redevelopment proposal called for the creation of a Global GreenTech Corridor, described as an "ecosystem where business, academia, and government collaborate in building the renewable energy technologies of the future." Home Depot opened a new IT center near Franklin Road in October and will benefit from up to $200 million in separate county tax incentives over the next decade. Still, the result looks less like Silicon Valley and more like Summerhill in the '60s.

After a brief dalliance with DeKalb County, Arthur Blank is near an agreement with Marietta to build the training facility and main office building for Atlanta United FC, his Major League Soccer franchise launching in 2017, along Franklin Road.

[image-7]
The deal is a good one for Blank. While the final terms are still being worked out, the team will lease the property where Flagstone Village and Woodlands Park once stood — property that Marietta taxpayers spent at least $50 million clearing — for $1 a year for 10 years. After that, the team will pay an inflation-adjusted rate starting at $320,000 per year for at least a decade, with the option to renew the lease for two additional five-year terms. The city also agreed to help the team apply for a 10-year tax abatement that will significantly reduce its tax bill.

[page][image-4]
At Cobb's southern tip sits an attraction that, over its nearly 50 years in operation, has failed to bring sustained, long-term economic vitality to the surrounding area — Six Flags Over Georgia. A couple miles from the theme park sits Magnolia Crossing, which has been targeted for redevelopment for years.

"Because of the foreclosure [of Magnolia Crossing] in 2002, it's come up on our radar because it had been on the rolls for quite some time," Cupid says. "With the conditions on that site, and its location, it lent itself to consideration quite early on."

Future plans for Magnolia Crossing are in flux, but a decade-old study of the Six Flags corridor envisioned a "destination/activity center, complete with parks and greenspace, new multi-family housing opportunities, and new mid-range retail outlets." SCRA Chairman Ed Richardson has said the property could become a "launch pad for mixed-use development."

Cupid would like to see development bring new amenities to the area, such as a grocery store, banks, a public library, and a police mini-precinct. She says they want places to convene, such as restaurants.

Cupid is also pushing for more robust workforce development programs, infrastructure improvements like new sidewalks, and better transit options, including a new bus route to link residents to jobs at the new Braves stadium.

McRae says that while he appreciates Cupid's efforts to revitalize the area, he wonders what impact the initial bond money can have.

"I know there's a movement to revitalize the area and continue to get developers in there. And I think the whole economic redevelopment of the area probably has some momentum for that," he says. "You can't do all that with $10 million, I don't think."

[image-5]
"I'm trying to stay in this area because of my job," says Trent Walker, who's lived at Magnolia Crossing for three years and works just a few blocks away. "It might be kind of tough."

Hard data on where displaced residents like Walker wind up is hard to come by. In the case of Franklin Road, the MHA was only able to collect information from about half the residents, with a portion of them moving out of the city or even the state.

"Families moved to the [Six Flags] area because it was affordable," says Monica Delancy, a member of the Austell Community Task Force who's working with Magnolia Crossing residents during the transition. "Now that they've started tearing down apartments, apartments start raising their rates. Those families, they're going to have nowhere to go to. Not in Cobb County."

Sonia Fischer and her daughter Makiyyah are two of Magnolia Crossing's residents at risk of becoming homeless. At a recent Cobb Commission meeting, they asked commissioners to push their move date back and provide additional moving assistance.

"I'm one of the children affected by what's going on at Magnolia Crossing Apartments," Makiyyah, age 8, said. "I am afraid of becoming homeless. I am in third grade and I am doing very well in school. I don't want anything to mess that up. Please don't do this to my family."

Makiyyah's not alone in facing a change in the middle of the school year. McRae, who's been working closely with the residents, says there are around 150 children in the Cobb County School System currently living at Magnolia Crossing. "We want to answer the question whether these families are not good enough to stay in Cobb County," McRae says. "We all want better development in South Cobb. We all want to bump up our quality of life. With that said, what's the route that we take?"

If Cobb officials did decide to change course and increase the amount of affordable housing for families like those at Magnolia Crossing, they have several options available. They could use bond financing to subsidize the construction of low-income housing. San Francisco will do just that after voters overwhelmingly approved a $310 million affordable housing bond referendum in November.

Officials could also mandate that new apartments set aside a certain percentage of units for low-income renters through inclusionary zoning. Although Cupid expressed support for the idea, it's unlikely Cobb County will implement it.

[image-8]
"Unfortunately, from what I've heard from some of the local commission leaders in Cobb and Gwinnett, people aren't as open and amenable to doing that," Executive Director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute Taifi Smith Butler says. "They want a strong property tax base, so they're looking at those luxury units because it will drive property taxes."

Other cities around the country provide examples of how Cobb could work with private and philanthropic partners to subsidize the development of more housing. In Chicago, the nonprofit Community Investment Corporation disperses funds pooled together from local banks and relends that capital at lower rates to owners to help them improve their rental properties and keep them affordable without subsidy.

Through the Housing Partnership Equity Trust (H-PET), philanthropic organizations such as the MacArthur and Ford foundations have teamed with Prudential, Citibank, and Morgan Stanley to work with nonprofit housing developers to purchase dilapidated apartment complexes, fix them up, and rent out units to low-income residents. So far, H-PET has funded four projects in Virginia, California, and Illinois.

According to Poethig, these innovative initiatives are "helping nonprofits preserve affordable rental housing. You can be a very proactive city leadership when you recognize that this is a problem you're trying to solve for."

City and county leaders in Cobb, however, remain focused on managing the destruction of their existing rental housing stock. They believe their efforts will benefit the affected communities within a few years.

"It's going to take time, but I think you're going to see some major changes over the next five to 10 years for [Franklin Road]," Marietta's Economic Development Manager Beth Sessoms says. "The goal is to bring businesses back that will create jobs and help bring the area back to what it used to be years ago."

As for the residents who had to move out, Marietta Communications Manager Lindsey Wiles believes their situation will be improved. "These people deserve better. And some of these people don't know they deserve better."

Kate Little, relationship manager of the non-profit housing and community development group Georgia Advancing Communities Together, isn't so sure demolishing apartment complexes and selling the land to developers will benefit the county's displaced residents.

"If you're just tearing down units and you're not thinking about how those units are replaced or where those people go, you shouldn't couch it as you're doing them a favor by de-concentrating poverty," Little says. "What you're really doing is increasing homelessness or adding to overcrowding. I think people would rather be concentrated in poverty with a roof over their head as opposed to de-concentrated and on the street.""
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  string(21101) "    In Cobb County, the poor are being bulldozed   2016-01-21T09:00:00+00:00 Cover Story: Suburban renewal   Payson Schwin 14124540 2016-01-21T09:00:00+00:00  In mid October, Kimberly Hunter, along with the other residents of Magnolia Crossing in South Cobb County, came home to letters on their doors telling them to vacate their apartments by the end of January. Their complex had been set for demolition.

"We're not prepared," Hunter said last fall. "Not with three months time. You can't be prepared."

Hunter, a mother of seven, doesn't own a car. She'll apartment hunt using CCT, the bare-bones transit system that serves sprawl-ravaged Cobb County. She doesn't know where she'll find the money to move on such short notice. She'll need money for a moving truck ($50 for the truck, several hundred dollars if she hires movers), nonrefundable application fees ($50 apiece), a security deposit, and her first month's rent. She must also continue to pay rent at Magnolia until she moves out.

Two weeks after being notified, she and other residents gathered at a community open house hosted by governmental organizations, including the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority, Cobb County Schools, and the Marietta Housing Authority. A handful of nonprofits and private apartment management companies were also there.

In a letter distributed at the open house, the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority explained that residents would receive between $250-$1,000 to help with the transition, depending on how soon they move out. But even with the money, many residents will struggle to find new homes.

"Their rent is way higher, a lot more," Hunter says of other apartment complexes in the Six Flags area. "It's not easy."

image-1
Magnolia Crossing consists of several bland two-story apartment buildings. Residents say it's not exactly an idyllic place to live, but the apartments offered affordable housing in an area where it's increasingly scarce. Eric Valenzuela says his neighbor was burglarized three times in two months. Magnolia resident Rashedra Pitts says that whenever she asked the management company about rumors of Magnolia Crossing's imminent destruction, they would "deny, deny, deny" it. (Efforts to reach Magnolia Crossing's management were unsuccessful.)

"For them to just try to spring it on everyone, it's kind of messed up, but I expected it to happen," Pitts says. "This place is horrible."

Online reviews of Magnolia Crossing contain allegations of crime, bug infestations, mildew, and faulty electrical wiring. A fire once forced residents to jump from balconies to safety, with one person breaking an arm in the process.

Yet people still chose to live here for one reason: low rent — about $450 for an 840-square-foot one-bedroom, according to residents. At nearby complexes — even those lacking common amenities like swimming pools and gyms — the cheapest apartments of similar size rent for more than $600 a month.

"My heart goes out for my neighbors," says Mattia Bolton, a Magnolia resident. While she and her husband don't know where they'll live next, Bolton says they'll be OK because she and her husband have enough income to cushion their transition. But as for some of her neighbors, "If they were struggling to pay 400 and something dollars a month, moving is going to be a lot, a burden, and I can imagine there's going to be some homeless," she says.

image-3
In 2015, Cobb County Commissioner Lisa Cupid led a successful effort to pass a $10 million bond to fund Magnolia Crossing's purchase and additional infrastructure improvements around Six Flags Drive. SCRA, the organization in charge of the bond issuance and redevelopment process, spent $3.7 million on the 120-unit complex in October. The Marietta Housing Authority is temporarily managing the complex. Once all the residents have moved out, SCRA will raze the apartments and put the 35-acre property on the market.

Cupid says she'd like to see the eventual owner put in a mixed-used development, complete with restaurants and a grocery store, capable of "revamping the area in a catalytic manner." Despite the property's proximity to Interstate 20, it might be a tough sell given the surrounding area's 26 percent poverty rate and $36,080 median household income — much lower than the $56,166 metro Atlanta average.

In the mid-20th century, local, state, and federal officials across the country embarked on ambitious programs to clear homes and apartments to make way for interstates, stadiums, and other public works projects, all in the name of progress. "Urban renewal" policies, called "slum removal" by some, often had another, often unstated purpose: to eliminate areas of concentrated poverty, not through better services or outreach, but by dispersing residents to parts unknown.

The city of Atlanta's urban renewal policies leveled the homes of thousands in the 1960s in Downtown neighborhoods with the promise of economic development. But for the residents able to remain in the surrounding areas, the revitalization never materialized around the new highways and stadiums.

A half century later, elected officials in Cobb County have taken a page from that playbook to practice their own form of suburban renewal. They hope that by firing up the bulldozers, they'll pave the way for economic development. The previous efforts should give them pause, however, because prosperity has not always followed demolition.

pageimage-2
Cobb County, particularly the more affluent areas of Vinings and East Cobb, conjures images of McMansions with manicured lawns, upscale strip malls, and new grocery stores. The area has long been a draw for well-off families looking for large homes, low taxes, and excellent schools.

But in the last decade, Cobb County has experienced some dramatic demographic shifts. The poverty rate has doubled since 2000 to 12.8 percent, and the county has become more racially diverse, with its percentage of white residents dropping from 95 percent in 1980 to 64 percent today.

A number of factors have contributed to the changes, including rising intown housing costs, large numbers of immigrants settling in the suburbs, and the demolition of the city of Atlanta's public housing.

The number of affordable housing units hasn't kept pace with demand in Cobb, in part because suburban counties have historically favored zoning for single-family homes over multi-family, and large lots over more affordable smaller lots. Cobb, whose population has more than tripled since 1970 thanks to homes generally priced for middle-class families, now has one of the lowest amounts of affordable units available to impoverished households in the country.

A shortage of affordable housing is a nationwide problem, according to the Urban Institute's Erika Poethig, with only 28 affordable, available, and adequate housing units for every 100 extremely low-income U.S. households, defined as a family of four earning $20,000 a year.

"Supply is not keeping up with demand," Poethig says. "That is a problem that if I zoom into Cobb County will come up in sharp relief."

image-9
Since 2000, the number of affordable units per 100 Cobb County households dropped from 21 to 9. In an Urban Institute housing study released last year using 2013 data, the most recent available, Cobb and Gwinnett tied for second-worst ratio out of the country's 100 largest counties. DeKalb was close behind. (Cobb ranked dead last in the previous year's study.)

The increasingly difficult search for housing takes its toll on suburban working families and has "real consequences for their livelihoods," Poethig says. Families are forced to move around a lot, which impacts childhood development. Rising rents affect decisions about what food to buy, resulting in consequences to personal health. The very basic human need — shelter — becomes a factor in all other aspects of a person's life.

"Housing actually becomes a gateway or inhibitor to opportunity," says Nathaniel Smith, founder and Chief Equity Officer at the Partnership for Southern Equity. "Where you live decides whether you have access to a good school, whether you have access to a good hospital, whether you have access to good fruits and vegetables."

It also determines how easily one can find a job. A recent Brookings Institution study found only 21.7 percent of metro Atlanta jobs are accessible within a 90-minute transit ride, putting the region near the bottom among American cities.

Finding an apartment with transit access is crucial for people like Hunter who depend on it. And even if she finds another place near a bus stop, her work isn't done. "Then you have to transfer schools," she says.

"One of the local schools, Riverside Intermediate, said they have over 40 kids that live in Magnolia Crossing," Albert McRae of the Austell Community Task Force says. "You're talking about 40 kids who are getting ready to go through a transition."

Beyond managing federal housing programs at the local level, Cobb County government does little to encourage the renovation or construction of affordable housing. Instead, it opts for the destruction of the few affordable complexes and calls it revitalization. Many of the demolitions have occurred in predominantly African-American and Hispanic communities.

"One thing the MHA has gotten good at in the last 10 years is tearing stuff down," MHA head Pete Waldrep told the Marietta Daily Journal in January 2015. "We know how to move people. We know how to relocate people, and get it torn down efficiently."

The MHA manages affordable housing in Cobb. Most of the non-senior public housing MHA used to operate in Cobb was demolished by 2013. As Waldrep told the MDJ last year, "We are out of the public housing business." The MHA still manages a few affordable housing complexes, but all of them — save for the 50-unit Henry Hull Homes complex in Acworth — are reserved for seniors or the disabled.

The MHA does administer the distribution of about 3,400 Section 8 federal rental assistance vouchers being used in the county as well as various programs that encourage home ownership. The organization also works with private developers to help them apply for low-income housing state tax credits to subsidize construction of new senior housing developments.

As for the county working to encourage more low-income housing construction, Cobb Chairman Tim Lee doesn't think government should play a role.

"We have the responsibility to provide a competitive environment for the development community to respond to the economic conditions, and that's where it stops," Lee said in an MDJ interview about SCRA's plans for Magnolia Crossing last November. (Lee did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story.)

Private developers have difficulty building and operating low-income housing at a profit without government help. The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies recently pointed out that the "private sector cannot profitably supply very low-cost units" and the "government must play a critical role in ensuring that the nation's most disadvantaged families and individuals have good quality, affordable housing."

Over the last five years, Smyrna has used public funds to raze a 10th of the city's rental apartments. One of the city's more high-profile projects was the $16 million purchase and destruction of the 728-unit Hickory Lakes complex in 2010.

Smyrna's original plan for the cleared property listed a corporate campus, mixed-use development, hospital, or even a "sportsplex" as possible future uses. But city officials struggled for several years to find a buyer before finally selling it at a $2 million loss. The purchaser, Southeast Capital Companies, is building a single-family development on the site called Smyrna Grove, with plans for nearly 200 homes in the $350,000-$450,000 range.

image-6
Marietta's vision for Franklin Road can be described as Hickory Lakes on steroids. In 2013, Mayor Steve "Thunder" Tumlin put forward a plan to spend $68 million purchasing and knocking down apartment complexe s along a mile-and-a-half stretch of the road between South Marietta Parkway and Delk Road.

The Marietta City Council put a redevelopment bond on the ballot and voters approved it by 433 votes, raising their own property taxes in the process to pay for the demolition project. Marietta purchased four properties totaling 92 acres — Flagstone Village, Woodlands Park, Preston Chase, and Marquis Place — that contained a total of 1,334 rental units.

As in Smyrna, Marietta officials had big plans. A 2009 redevelopment proposal called for the creation of a Global GreenTech Corridor, described as an "ecosystem where business, academia, and government collaborate in building the renewable energy technologies of the future." Home Depot opened a new IT center near Franklin Road in October and will benefit from up to $200 million in separate county tax incentives over the next decade. Still, the result looks less like Silicon Valley and more like Summerhill in the '60s.

After a brief dalliance with DeKalb County, Arthur Blank is near an agreement with Marietta to build the training facility and main office building for Atlanta United FC, his Major League Soccer franchise launching in 2017, along Franklin Road.

image-7
The deal is a good one for Blank. While the final terms are still being worked out, the team will lease the property where Flagstone Village and Woodlands Park once stood — property that Marietta taxpayers spent at least $50 million clearing — for $1 a year for 10 years. After that, the team will pay an inflation-adjusted rate starting at $320,000 per year for at least a decade, with the option to renew the lease for two additional five-year terms. The city also agreed to help the team apply for a 10-year tax abatement that will significantly reduce its tax bill.

pageimage-4
At Cobb's southern tip sits an attraction that, over its nearly 50 years in operation, has failed to bring sustained, long-term economic vitality to the surrounding area — Six Flags Over Georgia. A couple miles from the theme park sits Magnolia Crossing, which has been targeted for redevelopment for years.

"Because of the foreclosure of Magnolia Crossing in 2002, it's come up on our radar because it had been on the rolls for quite some time," Cupid says. "With the conditions on that site, and its location, it lent itself to consideration quite early on."

Future plans for Magnolia Crossing are in flux, but a decade-old study of the Six Flags corridor envisioned a "destination/activity center, complete with parks and greenspace, new multi-family housing opportunities, and new mid-range retail outlets." SCRA Chairman Ed Richardson has said the property could become a "launch pad for mixed-use development."

Cupid would like to see development bring new amenities to the area, such as a grocery store, banks, a public library, and a police mini-precinct. She says they want places to convene, such as restaurants.

Cupid is also pushing for more robust workforce development programs, infrastructure improvements like new sidewalks, and better transit options, including a new bus route to link residents to jobs at the new Braves stadium.

McRae says that while he appreciates Cupid's efforts to revitalize the area, he wonders what impact the initial bond money can have.

"I know there's a movement to revitalize the area and continue to get developers in there. And I think the whole economic redevelopment of the area probably has some momentum for that," he says. "You can't do all that with $10 million, I don't think."

image-5
"I'm trying to stay in this area because of my job," says Trent Walker, who's lived at Magnolia Crossing for three years and works just a few blocks away. "It might be kind of tough."

Hard data on where displaced residents like Walker wind up is hard to come by. In the case of Franklin Road, the MHA was only able to collect information from about half the residents, with a portion of them moving out of the city or even the state.

"Families moved to the Six Flags area because it was affordable," says Monica Delancy, a member of the Austell Community Task Force who's working with Magnolia Crossing residents during the transition. "Now that they've started tearing down apartments, apartments start raising their rates. Those families, they're going to have nowhere to go to. Not in Cobb County."

Sonia Fischer and her daughter Makiyyah are two of Magnolia Crossing's residents at risk of becoming homeless. At a recent Cobb Commission meeting, they asked commissioners to push their move date back and provide additional moving assistance.

"I'm one of the children affected by what's going on at Magnolia Crossing Apartments," Makiyyah, age 8, said. "I am afraid of becoming homeless. I am in third grade and I am doing very well in school. I don't want anything to mess that up. Please don't do this to my family."

Makiyyah's not alone in facing a change in the middle of the school year. McRae, who's been working closely with the residents, says there are around 150 children in the Cobb County School System currently living at Magnolia Crossing. "We want to answer the question whether these families are not good enough to stay in Cobb County," McRae says. "We all want better development in South Cobb. We all want to bump up our quality of life. With that said, what's the route that we take?"

If Cobb officials did decide to change course and increase the amount of affordable housing for families like those at Magnolia Crossing, they have several options available. They could use bond financing to subsidize the construction of low-income housing. San Francisco will do just that after voters overwhelmingly approved a $310 million affordable housing bond referendum in November.

Officials could also mandate that new apartments set aside a certain percentage of units for low-income renters through inclusionary zoning. Although Cupid expressed support for the idea, it's unlikely Cobb County will implement it.

image-8
"Unfortunately, from what I've heard from some of the local commission leaders in Cobb and Gwinnett, people aren't as open and amenable to doing that," Executive Director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute Taifi Smith Butler says. "They want a strong property tax base, so they're looking at those luxury units because it will drive property taxes."

Other cities around the country provide examples of how Cobb could work with private and philanthropic partners to subsidize the development of more housing. In Chicago, the nonprofit Community Investment Corporation disperses funds pooled together from local banks and relends that capital at lower rates to owners to help them improve their rental properties and keep them affordable without subsidy.

Through the Housing Partnership Equity Trust (H-PET), philanthropic organizations such as the MacArthur and Ford foundations have teamed with Prudential, Citibank, and Morgan Stanley to work with nonprofit housing developers to purchase dilapidated apartment complexes, fix them up, and rent out units to low-income residents. So far, H-PET has funded four projects in Virginia, California, and Illinois.

According to Poethig, these innovative initiatives are "helping nonprofits preserve affordable rental housing. You can be a very proactive city leadership when you recognize that this is a problem you're trying to solve for."

City and county leaders in Cobb, however, remain focused on managing the destruction of their existing rental housing stock. They believe their efforts will benefit the affected communities within a few years.

"It's going to take time, but I think you're going to see some major changes over the next five to 10 years for Franklin Road," Marietta's Economic Development Manager Beth Sessoms says. "The goal is to bring businesses back that will create jobs and help bring the area back to what it used to be years ago."

As for the residents who had to move out, Marietta Communications Manager Lindsey Wiles believes their situation will be improved. "These people deserve better. And some of these people don't know they deserve better."

Kate Little, relationship manager of the non-profit housing and community development group Georgia Advancing Communities Together, isn't so sure demolishing apartment complexes and selling the land to developers will benefit the county's displaced residents.

"If you're just tearing down units and you're not thinking about how those units are replaced or where those people go, you shouldn't couch it as you're doing them a favor by de-concentrating poverty," Little says. "What you're really doing is increasing homelessness or adding to overcrowding. I think people would rather be concentrated in poverty with a roof over their head as opposed to de-concentrated and on the street."             13086173 16793710        http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2016/01/006ef0_suburbanrenewal_magnum.png                  Cover Story: Suburban renewal "
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Thursday January 21, 2016 04:00 am EST
In Cobb County, the poor are being bulldozed | more...
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Carlos Bocanegra didn't know what to expect when he arrived in Atlanta last March. The California native and U.S. soccer legend has been pleasantly surprised.

??
"Over the moon surprised," says the technical director of Atlanta United FC, the city's first Major League Soccer Team. "I think once people get here, they're like, 'Oh man, this is awesome.' I mean, I've had friends visiting from California, they're just like, 'Wow, I didn't realize it was this cool of a city.'"

??
So he loves the city. Now he just has to make sure the city loves the team.

??
Bocanegra and other AUFC officials have a long to-do list before the team kicks off its inaugural season in 2017. While construction crews work on the team's future home, Downtown's $1.4 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and training facility and headquarters complex in Marietta, Bocanegra and team officials are trying to build interest in a professional soccer team in a notoriously fickle sports town.

??
As technical director, Bocanegra is essentially the equivalent of an NFL general manager, with the responsibility for the entire team organization, from coaches to sports scientists to scouts to, of course, the players.

??
It's the first front-office job for Bocanegra, who had a successful 15-year playing career in the U.S., England, Scotland, France, and Spain before retiring at the end of 2014. He played more than 100 games for the U.S. national team, including two World Cup appearances. He served as team captain in 64 games for the national team, and also captained three club teams, earning the nickname "Captain America."

??
This year, one of his biggest decisions will be sifting through résumés with team President Darren Eales and hiring the franchise's first head coach. The target hire date is the summer, but that date is subject to change: "If we find someone that's available that we feel will be a great fit for us, team owner Arthur Blank's given the green light to go ahead and pull the trigger."

??
Then he'll start scouting MLS, as well as the many European, South American, and Central American leagues for established pro players to help assemble a first team. AUFC will also hold a local adult tryout to find someone who's so far been "flying under the radar." In May or June, AUFC will hold youth tryouts to find the "best of the best" players, ages 11 to 18, who will make up the five branded Atlanta United FC youth teams. The training academy will try to produce professional soccer players and, Bocanegra says, well-rounded young adults.

??
In between, he'll keep making the rounds, building awareness and adding more names to the list of 26,000 people who have made deposits on season tickets. He's played soccer in Woodruff Park in the middle of the workweek. He's watched the national team's televised games at Brewhouse in Little Five Points. In October, at the Black Tie Soccer Game in Piedmont Park benefiting the nonprofit Soccer in the Streets, he played the world's most beautiful game in a kilt.

??
"It was a little bit liberating actually," he says, though he admits that he "didn't do it the true Scottish way — I had some spandex sliders underneath.""
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Carlos Bocanegra didn't know what to expect when he arrived in Atlanta last March. The California native and U.S. soccer legend has been pleasantly surprised.

??
"Over the moon surprised," says the technical director of Atlanta United FC, the city's first Major League Soccer Team. "I think once people get here, they're like, 'Oh man, this is awesome.' I mean, I've had friends visiting from California, they're just like, 'Wow, I didn't realize it was this cool of a city.'"

??
So he loves the city. Now he just has to make sure the city loves the team.

??
Bocanegra and other AUFC officials have a long to-do list before the team kicks off its inaugural season in 2017. While construction crews work on the team's future home, Downtown's [http://www.myajc.com/news/sports/football/falcons-introduce-mercedes-benz-stadium/nnQPN/|$1.4 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium], and training facility and headquarters complex in Marietta, Bocanegra and team officials are trying to build interest in a professional soccer team in a notoriously fickle sports town.

??
As technical director, Bocanegra is essentially the equivalent of an NFL general manager, with the responsibility for the entire team organization, from coaches to sports scientists to scouts to, of course, the players.

??
It's the first front-office job for Bocanegra, who had a successful 15-year [http://www.mlssoccer.com/post/2014/09/04/longtime-usmnt-fixture-carlos-bocanegra-announces-retirement-soccer|playing career] in the U.S., England, Scotland, France, and Spain before retiring at the end of 2014. He played more than 100 games for the U.S. national team, including two World Cup appearances. He served as team captain [http://atlutd.com/about/leadership/carlos-bocanegra/|in 64 games] for the national team, and also captained three club teams, earning the nickname "[http://www.espnfc.us/team/united-states/660/blog/post/2021461/carlos-bocanegra-is-a-trailblazing-icon-of-american-soccer|Captain America]."

??
This year, one of his biggest decisions will be sifting through résumés with team President Darren Eales and hiring the franchise's first head coach. The target hire date is the summer, but that date is subject to change: "If we find someone that's available that we feel will be a great fit for us, [team owner Arthur Blank]'s given the green light to go ahead and pull the trigger."

??
Then he'll start scouting MLS, as well as the many European, South American, and Central American leagues for established pro players to help assemble a first team. AUFC will also hold a local adult tryout to find someone who's so far been "flying under the radar." In May or June, AUFC will hold youth tryouts to find the "best of the best" players, ages 11 to 18, who will make up the five branded Atlanta United FC youth teams. The training academy will try to produce professional soccer players and, Bocanegra says, well-rounded young adults.

??
In between, he'll keep making the rounds, building awareness and adding more names to the list of 26,000 people who have made deposits on season tickets. He's played soccer in Woodruff Park in the middle of the workweek. He's watched the national team's televised games at Brewhouse in Little Five Points. In October, at the Black Tie Soccer Game in Piedmont Park benefiting the nonprofit Soccer in the Streets, he played the world's most beautiful game in a kilt.

??
"It was a little bit liberating actually," he says, though he admits that he "didn't do it the true Scottish way — I had some spandex sliders underneath.""
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Carlos Bocanegra didn't know what to expect when he arrived in Atlanta last March. The California native and U.S. soccer legend has been pleasantly surprised.

??
"Over the moon surprised," says the technical director of Atlanta United FC, the city's first Major League Soccer Team. "I think once people get here, they're like, 'Oh man, this is awesome.' I mean, I've had friends visiting from California, they're just like, 'Wow, I didn't realize it was this cool of a city.'"

??
So he loves the city. Now he just has to make sure the city loves the team.

??
Bocanegra and other AUFC officials have a long to-do list before the team kicks off its inaugural season in 2017. While construction crews work on the team's future home, Downtown's $1.4 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and training facility and headquarters complex in Marietta, Bocanegra and team officials are trying to build interest in a professional soccer team in a notoriously fickle sports town.

??
As technical director, Bocanegra is essentially the equivalent of an NFL general manager, with the responsibility for the entire team organization, from coaches to sports scientists to scouts to, of course, the players.

??
It's the first front-office job for Bocanegra, who had a successful 15-year playing career in the U.S., England, Scotland, France, and Spain before retiring at the end of 2014. He played more than 100 games for the U.S. national team, including two World Cup appearances. He served as team captain in 64 games for the national team, and also captained three club teams, earning the nickname "Captain America."

??
This year, one of his biggest decisions will be sifting through résumés with team President Darren Eales and hiring the franchise's first head coach. The target hire date is the summer, but that date is subject to change: "If we find someone that's available that we feel will be a great fit for us, team owner Arthur Blank's given the green light to go ahead and pull the trigger."

??
Then he'll start scouting MLS, as well as the many European, South American, and Central American leagues for established pro players to help assemble a first team. AUFC will also hold a local adult tryout to find someone who's so far been "flying under the radar." In May or June, AUFC will hold youth tryouts to find the "best of the best" players, ages 11 to 18, who will make up the five branded Atlanta United FC youth teams. The training academy will try to produce professional soccer players and, Bocanegra says, well-rounded young adults.

??
In between, he'll keep making the rounds, building awareness and adding more names to the list of 26,000 people who have made deposits on season tickets. He's played soccer in Woodruff Park in the middle of the workweek. He's watched the national team's televised games at Brewhouse in Little Five Points. In October, at the Black Tie Soccer Game in Piedmont Park benefiting the nonprofit Soccer in the Streets, he played the world's most beautiful game in a kilt.

??
"It was a little bit liberating actually," he says, though he admits that he "didn't do it the true Scottish way — I had some spandex sliders underneath."             13085975 16554544                          20 People to Watch - Carlos Bocanegra "
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Thursday December 31, 2015 04:00 am EST
The true football legend wants to make Atlanta's new Major League Soccer team the best | more...
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  string(5395) "image-1When the Braves move from the Atlanta to Cobb County in 2017, they’ll bring along some of Atlanta’s best restaurants, or at least approximate facsimiles of the beloved originals. 
?
?At a VIP and press event held at the SunTrust Park ticket office on Wednesday, the Braves announced the first round of five restaurants that will open in the $400 million  mixed-use development the team is building alongside the new stadium.  
?
?The team also announced the name of the development: The Battery Atlanta,  a subtle nod to an old baseball term that refers to the pitcher and catcher as a single unit.  (When asked if the name had anything to do with the Civil War Battles of Atlanta and Kennesaw Mountain,  CL was told, “No, I think you thought of that. You made that connection, but I’m not sure that we did.”)
?
?Derek Schiller, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Braves, said the team chose to announce restaurants first as the development’s “coming out party” because, “A destination has a lot to do with the restaurants you’d find at that destination.” 
?
??jump??Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q was the first partner to be announced. The restaurant offer the same award-winning BBQ they now serve at their Inman Park location out of a new brewpub called the Tomahawk Taproom. Located inside the stadium, the Taproom will be open year-round, and will smoke meat and brew beer on site. Neither of the Fox brothers would divulge the local craft beer partner, however. 
?
?“I’m sure that will come out,” Jonathan Fox said, “I’ve heard some things, but nothing’s official.” 
?
?Serial restaurateur Ford Fry will bring Superica, the “Mex-Tex” concept he developed for Krog Street Market, to The Battery. Giovanni Di Palma will open his third Antico location here. And as he’s done at his pizzeria in the Avalon in Alpharetta, Di Palma will make the dough at his Home Park flagship location and ship it OTP. The national chain CRÚ Food & Wine Bar, which also has an existing location in the Avalon, promised its new Cobb location would excel in “demystifying the world of wine in an elegant, casually hip environment.” 
?
?The one truly unique restaurant announced yesterday was a steakhouse concept by Chef Linton Hopkins, best known for Restaurant Eugene and Holeman & Finch in Atlanta. Hopkins, who has previously partnered with Braves with his H&F Burger stand at Turner Field, promised the yet-to-be-named steakhouse will serve “great beef,” “great black pepper,” “the perfect wedge salad,” and a “wonderful wine list.” 
?
?It was clear from the repeated use of the word “authentic” that the Braves aim to capture the magic of Atlanta’s food scene and bring a bit of intown Atlanta’s “soul”  to the Cumberland area. 
?
?“One of the things we’ve said from the very beginning is we want it to be authentic, authentic to Atlanta, authentic to the region,” Schiller said. “We picked restaurants that are not only world-renowned, known well outside of Atlanta and the southeast, but they’re also locally acclaimed. It helped really cement this concept of becoming really authentic to this region, to Atlanta.”
?
?Di Palma said his new Antico outpost will be a “little more rustic, old school, and neighborhood-y” compared to his Avalon location. 
?
?“In a conversation I just had with Terry McGuirk, Atlanta Braves Chairman and CEO,” Di Palma added, “he sort of implicated he wanted me to try to stay in my lane and have a more authentic, organic feel in here.”
?
?Going forward, the Braves will make additional restaurant and retail tenant announcements every month or two. They eventually plan to have 20 restaurants and 40 retail locations within The Battery Atlanta complex.  
?
?This project is the first time a professional sports team has attempted building a large mixed-use development and a new stadium simultaneously.  Ultimately, the Braves hope to attract visitors to the stadium area 365 days a year, which in turn could spark greater economic activity in the area and lead to the “generation of additional sales and property tax revenues” for Cobb County. 
?
?The Cumberland CID has previously forecasted the development alone would bring in $6 million in new tax revenue for Cobb,  whose taxpayers are on the hook for paying back the $397 million in bond financing being used for the new stadium.  (On the team's project site, the Braves point out the mixed-use development, unlike the stadium, is 100% privately financed. )
?
?The Battery Atlanta represents a gamble for Liberty Media, the national conglomerate that owns the Braves,  because the plan’s early success will depend on whether the team can turn things around by 2017. As they suffered through their worst season in a quarter century,  they experienced a significant decrease in attendance  and a 36 percent year-over-year drop in the TV ratings. 
?
?The team said both the stadium and the development are on track to open in Spring 2017. McGuirk pointed to the “bubbling cauldron of activity, construction, and building” going on at the sites of the previously announced Omni Hotel and Comcast office building. The team plans to start soon on the construction of The Roxy Theatre, a 550-unit apartment building, and hundreds of thousands of square feet of new restaurant and retail space.
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  string(5401) "[image-1]When the Braves move from the Atlanta to Cobb County in 2017, they’ll bring along some of Atlanta’s best restaurants, or at least approximate facsimiles of the beloved originals. 
?
?At a VIP and press event held at the SunTrust Park ticket office on Wednesday, the Braves announced the first round of five restaurants that will open in the $400 million  mixed-use development the team is building alongside the new stadium.  
?
?The team also announced the name of the development: The Battery Atlanta,  a subtle nod to an old baseball term that refers to the pitcher and catcher as a single unit.  (When asked if the name had anything to do with the Civil War Battles of Atlanta and Kennesaw Mountain,  ''CL'' was told, “No, I think you thought of that. You made that connection, but I’m not sure that we did.”)
?
?Derek Schiller, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Braves, said the team chose to announce restaurants first as the development’s “coming out party” because, “A destination has a lot to do with the restaurants you’d find at that destination.” 
?
??[jump]??Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q was the first partner to be announced. The restaurant offer the same award-winning BBQ they now serve at their Inman Park location out of a new brewpub called the Tomahawk Taproom. Located inside the stadium, the Taproom will be open year-round, and will smoke meat and brew beer on site. Neither of the Fox brothers would divulge the local craft beer partner, however. 
?
?“I’m sure that will come out,” Jonathan Fox said, “I’ve heard some things, but nothing’s official.” 
?
?Serial restaurateur Ford Fry will bring Superica, the “Mex-Tex” concept he developed for Krog Street Market, to The Battery. Giovanni Di Palma will open his third Antico location here. And as he’s done at his pizzeria in the Avalon in Alpharetta, Di Palma will make the dough at his Home Park flagship location and ship it OTP. The national chain CRÚ Food & Wine Bar, which also has an existing location in the Avalon, promised its new Cobb location would excel in “demystifying the world of wine in an elegant, casually hip environment.” 
?
?The one truly unique restaurant announced yesterday was a steakhouse concept by Chef Linton Hopkins, best known for Restaurant Eugene and Holeman & Finch in Atlanta. Hopkins, who has previously partnered with Braves with his H&F Burger stand at Turner Field, promised the yet-to-be-named steakhouse will serve “great beef,” “great black pepper,” “the perfect wedge salad,” and a “wonderful wine list.” 
?
?It was clear from the repeated use of the word “authentic” that the Braves aim to capture the magic of Atlanta’s food scene and bring a bit of intown Atlanta’s “soul”  to the Cumberland area. 
?
?“One of the things we’ve said from the very beginning is we want it to be authentic, authentic to Atlanta, authentic to the region,” Schiller said. “We picked restaurants that are not only world-renowned, known well outside of Atlanta and the southeast, but they’re also locally acclaimed. It helped really cement this concept of becoming really authentic to this region, to Atlanta.”
?
?Di Palma said his new Antico outpost will be a “little more rustic, old school, and neighborhood-y” compared to his Avalon location. 
?
?“In a conversation I just had with Terry [McGuirk, Atlanta Braves Chairman and CEO],” Di Palma added, “he sort of implicated he wanted me to try to stay in my lane and have a more authentic, organic feel in here.”
?
?Going forward, the Braves will make additional restaurant and retail tenant announcements every month or two. They eventually plan to have 20 restaurants and 40 retail locations within The Battery Atlanta complex.  
?
?This project is the first time a professional sports team has attempted building a large mixed-use development and a new stadium simultaneously.  Ultimately, the Braves hope to attract visitors to the stadium area 365 days a year, which in turn could spark greater economic activity in the area and lead to the “generation of additional sales and property tax revenues” for Cobb County. 
?
?The Cumberland CID has previously forecasted the development alone would bring in $6 million in new tax revenue for Cobb,  whose taxpayers are on the hook for paying back the $397 million in bond financing being used for the new stadium.  (On the team's project site, the Braves point out the mixed-use development, unlike the stadium, is 100% privately financed. )
?
?The Battery Atlanta represents a gamble for Liberty Media, the national conglomerate that owns the Braves,  because the plan’s early success will depend on whether the team can turn things around by 2017. As they suffered through their worst season in a quarter century,  they experienced a significant decrease in attendance  and a 36 percent year-over-year drop in the TV ratings. 
?
?The team said both the stadium and the development are on track to open in Spring 2017. McGuirk pointed to the “bubbling cauldron of activity, construction, and building” going on at the sites of the previously announced Omni Hotel and Comcast office building. The team plans to start soon on the construction of The Roxy Theatre, a 550-unit apartment building, and hundreds of thousands of square feet of new restaurant and retail space.
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  string(5696) "       2015-10-15T21:42:00+00:00 Braves try bringing a little bit of Atlanta to SunTrust Park with 'The Battery'   Payson Schwin 14124540 2015-10-15T21:42:00+00:00  image-1When the Braves move from the Atlanta to Cobb County in 2017, they’ll bring along some of Atlanta’s best restaurants, or at least approximate facsimiles of the beloved originals. 
?
?At a VIP and press event held at the SunTrust Park ticket office on Wednesday, the Braves announced the first round of five restaurants that will open in the $400 million  mixed-use development the team is building alongside the new stadium.  
?
?The team also announced the name of the development: The Battery Atlanta,  a subtle nod to an old baseball term that refers to the pitcher and catcher as a single unit.  (When asked if the name had anything to do with the Civil War Battles of Atlanta and Kennesaw Mountain,  CL was told, “No, I think you thought of that. You made that connection, but I’m not sure that we did.”)
?
?Derek Schiller, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Braves, said the team chose to announce restaurants first as the development’s “coming out party” because, “A destination has a lot to do with the restaurants you’d find at that destination.” 
?
??jump??Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q was the first partner to be announced. The restaurant offer the same award-winning BBQ they now serve at their Inman Park location out of a new brewpub called the Tomahawk Taproom. Located inside the stadium, the Taproom will be open year-round, and will smoke meat and brew beer on site. Neither of the Fox brothers would divulge the local craft beer partner, however. 
?
?“I’m sure that will come out,” Jonathan Fox said, “I’ve heard some things, but nothing’s official.” 
?
?Serial restaurateur Ford Fry will bring Superica, the “Mex-Tex” concept he developed for Krog Street Market, to The Battery. Giovanni Di Palma will open his third Antico location here. And as he’s done at his pizzeria in the Avalon in Alpharetta, Di Palma will make the dough at his Home Park flagship location and ship it OTP. The national chain CRÚ Food & Wine Bar, which also has an existing location in the Avalon, promised its new Cobb location would excel in “demystifying the world of wine in an elegant, casually hip environment.” 
?
?The one truly unique restaurant announced yesterday was a steakhouse concept by Chef Linton Hopkins, best known for Restaurant Eugene and Holeman & Finch in Atlanta. Hopkins, who has previously partnered with Braves with his H&F Burger stand at Turner Field, promised the yet-to-be-named steakhouse will serve “great beef,” “great black pepper,” “the perfect wedge salad,” and a “wonderful wine list.” 
?
?It was clear from the repeated use of the word “authentic” that the Braves aim to capture the magic of Atlanta’s food scene and bring a bit of intown Atlanta’s “soul”  to the Cumberland area. 
?
?“One of the things we’ve said from the very beginning is we want it to be authentic, authentic to Atlanta, authentic to the region,” Schiller said. “We picked restaurants that are not only world-renowned, known well outside of Atlanta and the southeast, but they’re also locally acclaimed. It helped really cement this concept of becoming really authentic to this region, to Atlanta.”
?
?Di Palma said his new Antico outpost will be a “little more rustic, old school, and neighborhood-y” compared to his Avalon location. 
?
?“In a conversation I just had with Terry McGuirk, Atlanta Braves Chairman and CEO,” Di Palma added, “he sort of implicated he wanted me to try to stay in my lane and have a more authentic, organic feel in here.”
?
?Going forward, the Braves will make additional restaurant and retail tenant announcements every month or two. They eventually plan to have 20 restaurants and 40 retail locations within The Battery Atlanta complex.  
?
?This project is the first time a professional sports team has attempted building a large mixed-use development and a new stadium simultaneously.  Ultimately, the Braves hope to attract visitors to the stadium area 365 days a year, which in turn could spark greater economic activity in the area and lead to the “generation of additional sales and property tax revenues” for Cobb County. 
?
?The Cumberland CID has previously forecasted the development alone would bring in $6 million in new tax revenue for Cobb,  whose taxpayers are on the hook for paying back the $397 million in bond financing being used for the new stadium.  (On the team's project site, the Braves point out the mixed-use development, unlike the stadium, is 100% privately financed. )
?
?The Battery Atlanta represents a gamble for Liberty Media, the national conglomerate that owns the Braves,  because the plan’s early success will depend on whether the team can turn things around by 2017. As they suffered through their worst season in a quarter century,  they experienced a significant decrease in attendance  and a 36 percent year-over-year drop in the TV ratings. 
?
?The team said both the stadium and the development are on track to open in Spring 2017. McGuirk pointed to the “bubbling cauldron of activity, construction, and building” going on at the sites of the previously announced Omni Hotel and Comcast office building. The team plans to start soon on the construction of The Roxy Theatre, a 550-unit apartment building, and hundreds of thousands of square feet of new restaurant and retail space.
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Article

Thursday October 15, 2015 05:42 pm EDT

image-1When the Braves move from the Atlanta to Cobb County in 2017, they’ll bring along some of Atlanta’s best restaurants, or at least approximate facsimiles of the beloved originals.
?
?At a VIP and press event held at the SunTrust Park ticket office on Wednesday, the Braves announced the first round of five restaurants that will open in the $400 million mixed-use development the team is...

| more...
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  ["title"]=>
  string(39) "Are the Atlanta Silverbacks endangered?"
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*Eric Cash/CL File    
*  
Saturday night at the Atlanta Silverbacks match against the San Antonio Scorpions, you’d never suspect the Silverbacks, a founding franchise of the new North American Soccer League, might be in danger of going extinct.  
  Multi-generational tailgates and impromptu juggling circles filled the parking lot. The supporter groups Terminus Legion, Atlanta Ultras, and Westside 109 led full-throated chants as the near-capacity crowd filed into Silverbacks Park. Millennials were talking Champions League over beers at the stadium bar, Silverbacks Pub. And oodles of young fans, many donning their local club team jerseys, cheered on the home team.

                         
  However, it’s only been a few weeks since a bombshell dropped on NASL in the form of a federal indictment.  Contained within the indictment were allegations that Aaron Davidson, the head of Traffic Sports USA and until recently the Chairman of the Board of NASL, had offered CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb millions in bribes in exchange for the marketing rights for the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament. Webb has since been “provisionally dismissed”  from CONCACAF’s top post and is fighting extradition from Switzerland.  Meanwhile, Davidson was arrested in Miami, and after entering a not guilty plea in federal court in Brooklyn. According to the New York Daily News, he has begun negotiating with prosecutors for a plea deal.  

 
  The NASL suspended Davidson from his position as Chairman and cut ties with Traffic Sports, the league’s long-time financial benefactor.  At least for now, NASL and the league-operated Silverbacks say they will continue to function normally.  

 
  It’s more tough news for the Silverbacks, who over the years have had struggled to succeed. Besides making the Soccer Bowl finals in 2013 and a few decent runs in the U.S. Open Cup, the team has had mediocre results. As of Saturday’s loss against the Scorpions, the Silverbacks currently sit at the bottom of the NASL standings. 

 
  Off the pitch, multiple owners have come and gone, including Traffic Sports for a time, until the NASL had to take the team over in December 2014. Six months later, the team’s future remains in limbo, but the league has committed to running the Silverbacks through the end of this season  as they search for a new ownership group. “Currently, there are no new ownership updates,” general manager Andy Smith told CL. “The NASL’s primary focus is finding new ownership that would continue operating the team here in Atlanta.  That has yet to happen, but we are all optimistic.” 

 
  If no local buyer is found soon, the league says it will entertain offers to move the team out of Atlanta. “If we can’t find local ownership, ” Bill Peterson, NASL Commissioner and interim Board Chair, said on a recent podcast, “the next step would be to look at relocation of the team to another group that’s interested in being in the league.” 

 
  One reason the NASL can’t seem to find an interested buyer is because the team will no longer be, as the Silverbacks tag lines goes, “Georgia’s only professional soccer team.”  The Silverbacks will soon compete with Arthur Blank’s MLS Atlanta franchise for soccer fan dollars. MLS kicks off in Atlanta in 2017, with advantages including a brand-new state-of-the-art stadium, higher payroll, and a better on-field product. 

 
  NASL officials believe Atlanta can support two professional soccer teams, arguing the MLS team will raise awareness of soccer locally and spark a rivalry, and in the process lift ticket sales.  Terminus Legion co-founder JR Francis is also bullish, saying the Silverbacks could cater to suburban families and fans interested in a more intimate gameday experience. “I firmly believe that two soccer franchises can absolutely survive and thrive in Atlanta,” Francis told CL.   

 
  Yet it’s difficult to see how the NASL Silverbacks franchise survives this encroachment into their habitat. For one, the Silverbacks for years have struggled to remain profitable  despite decent attendance  and one of the lowest payrolls in NASL,  even without having to share a market with an MLS rival. The New York Cosmos are the only NASL franchise to coexist in the same city with MLS.  Looking back, it seems the Silverbacks days were numbered the moment Arthur Blank decided to start fresh rather than build off the current minor league soccer team’s brand and club history, as other MLS ownership groups have done in Orlando, Seattle, Portland,  and soon, Minneapolis. 

 
  This doesn’t mean the Silverbacks will disappear completely if new ownership decides to skip town with the NASL franchise.

 
  Boris Jerkunica, a tech entrepreneur and a former Silverbacks owner, still has the rights to the Silverbacks name, meaning he can always start up a new men’s team down the road. One option is to start a lower-tier division side in the National Premier Soccer League in which young local talent can launch their soccer careers.  “The Atlanta Silverbacks are going to have a pro team participating in U.S. soccer,” Jerkunica said back in 2013. “The question is at what level.”  

 
  There’s also a chance Blank and Jerkunica could work together down the road. The Silverbacks met with Blank’s group when Jerkunica still owned the team. “We look forward to expanding on those preliminary meetings and speaking with their group further about ways we can achieve that continued growth,” the team said at the time.  “I think a symbiotic relationship with the MLS team and the second team in Atlanta would be the best for everybody involved,” said Terminus Legion’s Francis. 

 
  Regardless of what happens this year, Jerkunica will also continue to own and operate Silverbacks Park, the multi-million dollar soccer facility he built at Spaghetti Junction where the Silverbacks have played off and on for nearly a decade.  Jerkunica has always thought of his mission as creating a lasting soccer community in metro Atlanta, rather than just hosting a pro team in his stadium. “We were going to build a soccer club for adults,” Jerkunica has said. “Then, I had an opportunity to buy the Silverbacks. That was more of an afterthought.” 

 
  Jerkunica succeeded in his mission to build and cultivate metro Atlanta’s soccer culture. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say few have done more than Jerkunica to keep the Atlanta soccer flame burning. Silverbacks Park currently hosts more than 360 men’s, women’s, and co-ed adult teams as part of the successful amateur league.  No matter what happens to the NASL franchise, Silverbacks Park will continue to be a gathering place, not only for the city’s weekend warriors, but for fans of all ages who may soon get to see the Atlanta Vibe, a new local women’s pro team, take the field in 2016. 

 
  Pro soccer in Atlanta has always lacked stability, going back to the 1960’s when the Atlanta Chiefs played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Since that franchise’s spectacular failure, Atlanta has said goodbye to several indoor and outdoor pro soccer teams—the Attack,  Lasers, Magic, and Ruckus —participating in an alphabet soup of leagues — AISA,  NPSL, USISL,  APSL,  A-League,  and USL.  

 
  But despite the uncertainty surrounding the Silverbacks and NASL, Arthur Blank’s team will be here for years to come, with one brand in one league, thanks to financially secure ownership and a spot in the thriving, well-established MLS. No matter what happens with the Silverbacks, Atlanta soccer fans can be confident pro soccer in metro Atlanta will not die out anytime soon."
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  string(10425) "  {img src="https://media1.fdncms.com/atlanta/imager/u/original/14512680/1434120657-atlanta-silverbacks-joeff-davis.jpg"}      
*[http://clatl.com/atlanta/ImageArchives?by=1559825|Eric Cash/CL File]    
*  
Saturday night at the Atlanta Silverbacks match against the San Antonio Scorpions, you’d never suspect the Silverbacks, a founding franchise of the new North American Soccer League, might be in danger of going extinct.  
  Multi-generational tailgates and impromptu juggling circles filled the parking lot. The supporter groups Terminus Legion, Atlanta Ultras, and Westside 109 led full-throated chants as the near-capacity crowd filed into Silverbacks Park. Millennials were talking Champions League over beers at the stadium bar, Silverbacks Pub. And oodles of young fans, many donning their local club team jerseys, cheered on the home team.

                         
  However, it’s only been a few weeks since a bombshell dropped on NASL in the form of a [http://images.businessweek.com/bloomberg/pdfs/FIFAindictment.pdf|federal indictment].  Contained within the indictment were allegations that Aaron Davidson, the head of Traffic Sports USA and until recently the Chairman of the Board of NASL, had offered CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb millions in bribes in exchange for the marketing rights for the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament. Webb has since been “[http://www1.skysports.com/football/news/11095/9868093/concacaf-have-provisionally-dismissed-president-jeffrey-webb|provisionally dismissed]”  from CONCACAF’s top post and is [http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/article23152416.html |fighting extradition] from Switzerland.  Meanwhile, Davidson was arrested in Miami, and after entering a not guilty plea in federal court in Brooklyn. According to the New York Daily News, he has begun [http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/soccer/soccer-exec-cut-deal-fifa-corruption-probe-article-1.2243020|negotiating] with prosecutors for a plea deal.  

 
  The NASL suspended Davidson from his position as Chairman and cut ties with Traffic Sports, [http://www.nasl.com/news/2015/05/27/nasl-statement-on-us-department-of-justice-investigation |the league’s long-time financial benefactor].  At least for now, NASL and the league-operated Silverbacks say they will [http://www.ajc.com/news/sports/pro-sports/fifa-arrests-not-affecting-silverbacks/nmPcK/|continue to function normally].  

 
  It’s more tough news for the Silverbacks, who over the years have had struggled to succeed. Besides making the Soccer Bowl finals in 2013 and a few decent runs in the U.S. Open Cup, the team has had mediocre results. As of Saturday’s loss against the Scorpions, the Silverbacks currently [http://www.nasl.com/standings|sit at the bottom of the NASL standings]. 

 
  Off the pitch, multiple owners have come and gone, including Traffic Sports for a time, until the NASL had to take the team over in December 2014. Six months later, the team’s future remains in limbo, but the league has [http://total-mls.com/nasl/what-does-the-future-hold-for-the-atlanta-silverbacks.html|committed to running] the Silverbacks through the end of this season  as they search for a new ownership group. “Currently, there are no new ownership updates,” general manager Andy Smith told CL. “The NASL’s primary focus is finding new ownership that would continue operating the team here in Atlanta.  That has yet to happen, but we are all optimistic.” 

 
  If no local buyer is found soon, the league says it will entertain offers to move the team out of Atlanta. “If we can’t find local ownership, ” Bill Peterson, NASL Commissioner and interim Board Chair, [https://audioboom.com/boos/3053056-cosmos-v-strikers-eve|said on a recent podcast], “the next step would be to look at relocation of the team to another group that’s interested in being in the league.” 

 
  One reason the NASL can’t seem to find an interested buyer is because the team will no longer be, [http://www.atlantasilverbacksfc.com/club-history|as the Silverbacks tag lines goes], “Georgia’s only professional soccer team.”  The Silverbacks will soon compete with Arthur Blank’s MLS Atlanta franchise for soccer fan dollars. MLS kicks off in Atlanta in 2017, with advantages including a brand-new state-of-the-art stadium, higher payroll, and a better on-field product. 

 
  NASL officials believe Atlanta can support two professional soccer teams, [http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/print-edition/2015/03/13/mls-team-may-boost-support-for-silverbacks.html|arguing] the MLS team will raise awareness of soccer locally and spark a rivalry, and in the process lift ticket sales.  Terminus Legion co-founder JR Francis is also bullish, saying the Silverbacks could cater to suburban families and fans interested in a more intimate gameday experience. “I firmly believe that two soccer franchises can absolutely survive and thrive in Atlanta,” Francis told CL.   

 
  Yet it’s difficult to see how the NASL Silverbacks franchise survives this encroachment into their habitat. For one, the Silverbacks for years have [http://www.ajc.com/news/sports/pro-sports/ajc-soccer-insider-silverbacks-future-cloudy/nhsM8/|struggled] to remain profitable  despite [http://dohertysoccer.com/2015-lower-division-attendances/|decent attendance]  and [http://www.ajc.com/news/sports/pro-sports/silverbacks-not-worried-about-mls-team/nfWC8/|one of the lowest payrolls in NASL],  even without having to share a market with an MLS rival. The New York Cosmos are the only NASL franchise to [http://www.thegoatparade.com/2014/12/2/7323929/sound-familiar-nasl-take-over-at-risk-atlanta-silverbacks-chivas-usa-minnesota-united-fc|coexist] in the same city with MLS.  Looking back, it seems the Silverbacks days were numbered the moment Arthur Blank decided to start fresh rather than build off the current minor league soccer team’s brand and club history, as other MLS ownership groups have done in [http://www.orlandocitysc.com/club/history|Orlando], [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattle_Sounders_(1994—2008|Seattle], [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portland_Timbers_(2001—10|Portland],  and soon, [http://www.sportingnews.com/soccer/story/2015-03-14/mls-expansion-minnesota-united-nasl-franchise-vikings-twins-timberwolves-stadium|Minneapolis]. 

 
  This doesn’t mean the Silverbacks will disappear completely if new ownership decides to skip town with the NASL franchise.

 
  Boris Jerkunica, a tech entrepreneur and a former Silverbacks owner, still has the rights to the Silverbacks name, meaning he can always start up a new men’s team down the road. One option is to start a lower-tier division side in the National Premier Soccer League in which young local talent can launch their soccer careers.  “The Atlanta Silverbacks are going to have a pro team participating in U.S. soccer,” Jerkunica said back in 2013. “The question is at what level.”  

 
  There’s also a chance Blank and Jerkunica could work together down the road. The Silverbacks met with Blank’s group when Jerkunica still owned the team. “We look forward to expanding on those preliminary meetings and speaking with their group further about ways we can achieve that continued growth,” the [http://neighbornewspapers.com/view/full_story/24947063/article-Silverbacks-respond-to-soccer-franchise-in-Atlanta?instance=all|team said at the time].  “I think a symbiotic relationship with the MLS team and the second team in Atlanta would be the best for everybody involved,” said Terminus Legion’s Francis. 

 
  Regardless of what happens this year, Jerkunica will also continue to own and operate Silverbacks Park, the multi-million dollar soccer facility he [http://www.emory.edu/EMORY_MAGAZINE/issues/2011/summer/features/soccer.html|built] at Spaghetti Junction where the Silverbacks have played off and on for nearly a decade.  Jerkunica has always thought of his mission as creating a lasting soccer community in metro Atlanta, rather than just hosting a pro team in his stadium. “We were going to build a soccer club for adults,” [http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/print-edition/2011/12/09/soccer-exec-combining-best-of-pros.html|Jerkunica has said]. “Then, I had an opportunity to buy the Silverbacks. That was more of an afterthought.” 

 
  Jerkunica succeeded in his mission to build and cultivate metro Atlanta’s soccer culture. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say few have done more than Jerkunica to keep the Atlanta soccer flame burning. Silverbacks Park currently [http://www.atlantasilverbacks.com/sponsorship2013/2013-UPDATED-DECK-small.pdf|hosts] more than 360 men’s, women’s, and co-ed adult teams as part of the successful amateur league.  No matter what happens to the NASL franchise, Silverbacks Park will continue to be a gathering place, not only for the city’s weekend warriors, but for fans of all ages who may soon get to see the Atlanta Vibe, a new local women’s pro team, [http://www.ajc.com/news/sports/pro-sports/vibe-moving-to-silverbacks-park/nkKrK/|take the field in 2016]. 

 
  Pro soccer in Atlanta has always lacked stability, going back to the 1960’s when the Atlanta Chiefs played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Since that franchise’s spectacular failure, Atlanta has said goodbye to several indoor and outdoor pro soccer teams—the [https://monkfromhavana.wordpress.com/2010/08/30/atlanta-attack/|Attack],  Lasers, Magic, and [http://memographer.com/2013/11/the-short-history-of-professional-soccer-in-atlanta/ |Ruckus] —participating in an alphabet soup of leagues — [https://monkfromhavana.wordpress.com/2010/08/30/atlanta-attack/|AISA],  NPSL, [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:USISL_teams|USISL],  [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Professional_Soccer_League|APSL],  [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-League_(1995—2004)#A-League_teams|A-League],  and [http://memographer.com/2013/11/the-short-history-of-professional-soccer-in-atlanta/|USL].  

 
  But despite the uncertainty surrounding the Silverbacks and NASL, Arthur Blank’s team will be here for years to come, with one brand in one league, thanks to financially secure ownership and a spot in the thriving, well-established MLS. No matter what happens with the Silverbacks, Atlanta soccer fans can be confident pro soccer in metro Atlanta will not die out anytime soon."
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  string(7930) "       2015-06-12T15:00:00+00:00 Are the Atlanta Silverbacks endangered?   Payson Schwin 14124540 2015-06-12T15:00:00+00:00          
*Eric Cash/CL File    
*  
Saturday night at the Atlanta Silverbacks match against the San Antonio Scorpions, you’d never suspect the Silverbacks, a founding franchise of the new North American Soccer League, might be in danger of going extinct.  
  Multi-generational tailgates and impromptu juggling circles filled the parking lot. The supporter groups Terminus Legion, Atlanta Ultras, and Westside 109 led full-throated chants as the near-capacity crowd filed into Silverbacks Park. Millennials were talking Champions League over beers at the stadium bar, Silverbacks Pub. And oodles of young fans, many donning their local club team jerseys, cheered on the home team.

                         
  However, it’s only been a few weeks since a bombshell dropped on NASL in the form of a federal indictment.  Contained within the indictment were allegations that Aaron Davidson, the head of Traffic Sports USA and until recently the Chairman of the Board of NASL, had offered CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb millions in bribes in exchange for the marketing rights for the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament. Webb has since been “provisionally dismissed”  from CONCACAF’s top post and is fighting extradition from Switzerland.  Meanwhile, Davidson was arrested in Miami, and after entering a not guilty plea in federal court in Brooklyn. According to the New York Daily News, he has begun negotiating with prosecutors for a plea deal.  

 
  The NASL suspended Davidson from his position as Chairman and cut ties with Traffic Sports, the league’s long-time financial benefactor.  At least for now, NASL and the league-operated Silverbacks say they will continue to function normally.  

 
  It’s more tough news for the Silverbacks, who over the years have had struggled to succeed. Besides making the Soccer Bowl finals in 2013 and a few decent runs in the U.S. Open Cup, the team has had mediocre results. As of Saturday’s loss against the Scorpions, the Silverbacks currently sit at the bottom of the NASL standings. 

 
  Off the pitch, multiple owners have come and gone, including Traffic Sports for a time, until the NASL had to take the team over in December 2014. Six months later, the team’s future remains in limbo, but the league has committed to running the Silverbacks through the end of this season  as they search for a new ownership group. “Currently, there are no new ownership updates,” general manager Andy Smith told CL. “The NASL’s primary focus is finding new ownership that would continue operating the team here in Atlanta.  That has yet to happen, but we are all optimistic.” 

 
  If no local buyer is found soon, the league says it will entertain offers to move the team out of Atlanta. “If we can’t find local ownership, ” Bill Peterson, NASL Commissioner and interim Board Chair, said on a recent podcast, “the next step would be to look at relocation of the team to another group that’s interested in being in the league.” 

 
  One reason the NASL can’t seem to find an interested buyer is because the team will no longer be, as the Silverbacks tag lines goes, “Georgia’s only professional soccer team.”  The Silverbacks will soon compete with Arthur Blank’s MLS Atlanta franchise for soccer fan dollars. MLS kicks off in Atlanta in 2017, with advantages including a brand-new state-of-the-art stadium, higher payroll, and a better on-field product. 

 
  NASL officials believe Atlanta can support two professional soccer teams, arguing the MLS team will raise awareness of soccer locally and spark a rivalry, and in the process lift ticket sales.  Terminus Legion co-founder JR Francis is also bullish, saying the Silverbacks could cater to suburban families and fans interested in a more intimate gameday experience. “I firmly believe that two soccer franchises can absolutely survive and thrive in Atlanta,” Francis told CL.   

 
  Yet it’s difficult to see how the NASL Silverbacks franchise survives this encroachment into their habitat. For one, the Silverbacks for years have struggled to remain profitable  despite decent attendance  and one of the lowest payrolls in NASL,  even without having to share a market with an MLS rival. The New York Cosmos are the only NASL franchise to coexist in the same city with MLS.  Looking back, it seems the Silverbacks days were numbered the moment Arthur Blank decided to start fresh rather than build off the current minor league soccer team’s brand and club history, as other MLS ownership groups have done in Orlando, Seattle, Portland,  and soon, Minneapolis. 

 
  This doesn’t mean the Silverbacks will disappear completely if new ownership decides to skip town with the NASL franchise.

 
  Boris Jerkunica, a tech entrepreneur and a former Silverbacks owner, still has the rights to the Silverbacks name, meaning he can always start up a new men’s team down the road. One option is to start a lower-tier division side in the National Premier Soccer League in which young local talent can launch their soccer careers.  “The Atlanta Silverbacks are going to have a pro team participating in U.S. soccer,” Jerkunica said back in 2013. “The question is at what level.”  

 
  There’s also a chance Blank and Jerkunica could work together down the road. The Silverbacks met with Blank’s group when Jerkunica still owned the team. “We look forward to expanding on those preliminary meetings and speaking with their group further about ways we can achieve that continued growth,” the team said at the time.  “I think a symbiotic relationship with the MLS team and the second team in Atlanta would be the best for everybody involved,” said Terminus Legion’s Francis. 

 
  Regardless of what happens this year, Jerkunica will also continue to own and operate Silverbacks Park, the multi-million dollar soccer facility he built at Spaghetti Junction where the Silverbacks have played off and on for nearly a decade.  Jerkunica has always thought of his mission as creating a lasting soccer community in metro Atlanta, rather than just hosting a pro team in his stadium. “We were going to build a soccer club for adults,” Jerkunica has said. “Then, I had an opportunity to buy the Silverbacks. That was more of an afterthought.” 

 
  Jerkunica succeeded in his mission to build and cultivate metro Atlanta’s soccer culture. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say few have done more than Jerkunica to keep the Atlanta soccer flame burning. Silverbacks Park currently hosts more than 360 men’s, women’s, and co-ed adult teams as part of the successful amateur league.  No matter what happens to the NASL franchise, Silverbacks Park will continue to be a gathering place, not only for the city’s weekend warriors, but for fans of all ages who may soon get to see the Atlanta Vibe, a new local women’s pro team, take the field in 2016. 

 
  Pro soccer in Atlanta has always lacked stability, going back to the 1960’s when the Atlanta Chiefs played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Since that franchise’s spectacular failure, Atlanta has said goodbye to several indoor and outdoor pro soccer teams—the Attack,  Lasers, Magic, and Ruckus —participating in an alphabet soup of leagues — AISA,  NPSL, USISL,  APSL,  A-League,  and USL.  

 
  But despite the uncertainty surrounding the Silverbacks and NASL, Arthur Blank’s team will be here for years to come, with one brand in one league, thanks to financially secure ownership and a spot in the thriving, well-established MLS. No matter what happens with the Silverbacks, Atlanta soccer fans can be confident pro soccer in metro Atlanta will not die out anytime soon.             13083359 14512492                          Are the Atlanta Silverbacks endangered? "
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Article

Friday June 12, 2015 11:00 am EDT

  • Eric Cash/CL File

Saturday night at the Atlanta Silverbacks match against the San Antonio Scorpions, you’d never suspect the Silverbacks, a founding franchise of the new North American Soccer League, might be in danger of going extinct.
Multi-generational tailgates and impromptu juggling circles filled the parking lot. The supporter groups Terminus Legion, Atlanta Ultras,...

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