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Cumberland's Riverwalk Development Looks For Tax Abatement

If the abatement is approved, the developers of the $100 million mixed-use project will see lower property taxes for the first ten years of its existence.

An artist's conception of the Riverwalk development in the Cumberland Community Improvement District. The Corcoran Ota Group, Inc.
An artist's conception of the Riverwalk development in the Cumberland Community Improvement District. The Corcoran Ota Group, Inc.
A $100 million mixed-use development in the Cumberland Community Improvement District (CID) may be seeing a reduced tax burden for the next ten years.

"Riverwalk," the working name of a development at Cumberland Boulevard and Cobb Galleria Parkway that is planned to house 14 three-story townhomes, 236 condominiums, and 200,000 sq. ft. of Class A office space, has applied for a tax abatement through the county's development authority.

According to the Marietta Daily Journal, County Chairman Tim Lee told Greenstone Properties, the developers of the project, that they do not qualify for waivers of permitting fees because the development will not bring enough jobs or tax digest money to the county.

However, Lee suggested Greenstone seek a tax abatement, which is a deferred property tax setup. In the first year of the abatement, Greenstone will pay no property tax. In subsequent years, the developers will pay ten percent more than the previous year until they are paying the full tax by year ten.

Additionally, the MDJ reports that this abatement, if approved, will allow Greenstone to avoid becoming part of the new tax district inside the Cumberland CID that will raise the property taxes of apartment owners by three mills.

The Cumberland CID's board voted to approve the tax district and to increase the property taxes business owners inside the CID by five mills to finance improved transportation in the wake of the Braves' relocation to the area.

Opponents of the tax abatement for Riverwalk decry the move as cronyism due to a lack of proper oversight on the Development Authority of Cobb County.

Lance Lamberton, president of the Cobb Taxpayer's Association, says that John Williams, a wealthy Cobb developer a financial backer of the Riverwalk project, is benefiting from his connections in county government to earn tax breaks and other sweetheart deals.

Concerns have also been raised that giving tax breaks to apartment developers could transform Cobb County into little more than a bedroom community serving the Atlanta area.

Nelson Geter, executive director of the Development Authority of Cobb County, admitted that the abatement for an apartment project could begin a slippery slope, but told the MDJ that the large scope of the Riverwalk development made the project worthy of some sort of tax break.

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