Nearly 50 acres of greenspace will soon transform the Town Center area in Kennesaw, all part of a master plan by the Town Center Community Improvement District (TCCID) to improve quality of life and create more outdoor spaces for members of the community.
The area, anchored by Town Center at Cobb, has historically been known for retail and commercial activity. With these new initiatives, leaders of TCCID, which utilizes funds from voluntary commercial real estate taxes to implement transportation infrastructure, safety improvements, beautification and other projects, plan to make the area a more inviting destination for both locals and visitors alike.
“We have all of Kennesaw State University’s main campus within our boundaries,” explains Tracy Rathbone, executive director of TCCID. “With 35,000 students and growing, and more than 100,000 workers inside the district on a daily basis — as well as the residents that live in and around the Town Center community — this initiative is really creating a sense of place for the region.”
As part of the plan, three park spaces are in the works with two currently under construction and one in the preliminary engineering phase. In March, TCCID awarded a contract for two of these projects: the development of Aviation Park and Bells Ferry Trailhead enhancements to Whitesburg-based Integrated Construction and Nobility, Inc. The two projects are expected to break ground mid-May 2017 and are scheduled for completion in early 2018.
“Our vision is to capture the momentum of the growing area, raise the bar on the quality of development within the district, and create a place where residents, students and visitors can enjoy all aspects of life,” Rathbone says.
Adjacent to Cobb County International Airport’s runway at the corner of Barrett Lakes Boulevard and Cobb Place Boulevard, about midpoint along the Noonday Creek Trail, the three-acre Aviation Park will pay tribute to the county’s rich aviation history. Visitors will be able to watch from a viewing area the more than 200 planes that take off and land daily, enjoy an aviation-themed playground, new restrooms, and view historical and public art displays. The plans incorporate an existing Zagster station, a bike share program with three docking stations along the Noonday Creek Trail for people to borrow at a maximum cost of $24 per day, with the first hour of riding free.
This is the first time the TCCID has planned, designed, constructed and funded its own greenspace project. “We are focused on initiatives that will add more greenspace to the Town Center community so visitors and residents alike can relax and enjoy our beautiful outdoor areas,” Rathbone says. “Aviation Park is our first step toward accomplishing this goal.”
Though the park’s theme is a nod to Cobb’s history in flight, it will feature many modern amenities. The playground showcases a rubber mock airplane runway under a Corocord airplane structure, which consists of a rope and cable climbing system. Spinner bowls mimic the light placement along a typical runway, as well as standard, toddler, and basket swings for ADA accessibility. Finally, an ICON climbing structure will offer park visitors a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) electronic play system that incorporates physical activity.
Bells Ferry Trailhead
Enhancements to the Bells Ferry Trailhead, which serves as the eastern entrance to the Noonday Creek Trail, will make the space more visitor-friendly. Plans to improve the area include adding new restrooms, a seating plaza, lighting and landscaping. Currently, the trail features a 60-space parking lot and a Zagster station.
“Most people don’t know that [the TCCID area has] over 8 miles of trails, most of which lie along the wooded Noonday Creek with scenic views of Kennesaw Mountain,” Rathbone adds. “We currently have plans to expand and connect our trail system with Woodstock’s Noonday Creek Trail and Marietta’s Mountain to River Trail to offer miles of continual pathway for pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy.”
Future Plans for Town Center Park
The cornerstone of TCCID’s place-making efforts will be the creation of Town Center Park, a 42-acre space adjacent to Town Center at Cobb that is currently in the initial phase of planning. Within the park will be a nature-inspired water feature, a linear park along the Noonday Creek Trail and a woodland park for ecology and education use.
Crucial to ongoing park development is the newly-created Town Center Community Alliance (TCCA), a 501(c)3nonprofit organization established by the TCCID that enables property owners outside of the district to invest in its park and green space initiatives. Working alongside TCCID, the TCCA is leading beautification and placemaking projects, and is funded philanthropically.
Rathbone adds there are plans to incorporate more greenspace in upcoming multi-use developments. “Through these efforts, we believe we have an opportunity to not only provide a tremendous recreation benefit to the district, but an economic development asset that will strengthen property values and enable Town Center to remain a robust activity center for the region,” she says.