Saturday, October 21, 2017

Reversible lanes to open in Cobb in 2018

  • Jon Gargis
  •  MDJ 10/21/17

CUMBERLAND — For Georgia Department of Transportation Director Russell McMurry, 2017 just might be defined as the Year of the Disaster. But he expressed optimism that one of his department’s major highway projects — a significant portion of which will run through Cobb — would mark a significant milestone once completed next year.
“When we come back next year for this summit, I’m very excited because we will have opened some major express lanes. The Northwest Corridor, which is right outside the window for us, will be open, making major travel time savings, over 30 minutes of travel time savings along that corridor during peak times,” McMurry said, speaking to an estimated crowd of 1,200 at the annual Georgia Transportation Summit, held at the Cobb Galleria Centre.
The $834 million Northwest Corridor project includes 29.7 miles of reversible toll lanes along Interstate 75 from Akers Mill in Cumberland to Hickory Grove Road near the Cherokee County line and along I-575 from I-75 in Marietta to Sixes Road in Holly Springs. GDOT officials say the project is expected to open this summer.
Though McMurry highlighted his department’s future project in his remarks, a significant portion of his time on the podium focused on the March 30 fire and collapse of the northbound Interstate 85 bridge near Piedmont Road in Atlanta. It caused a ripple effect to traffic flow around the metro area and was expected to affect the region well into June.
But repairs were completed weeks earlier than expected by Marietta-based C.W. Matthews Contracting Co. Inc., which had been offered up to $3.1 million in bonus incentives if it finished the job by May 15. Its crews finished the job on time, with vehicles traveling across the rebuilt bridge the evening of May 13.
Including the incentives, the total cost of the rebuilding project was $16.6 million, with $11.9 million for construction and $1.6 million for demolition of the old structures.
McMurry said the bridge collapse had been just one of a number of emergency situations his department had dealt with in the year prior to his talk Friday, beginning with the effects of Hurricane Matthew on the state’s coast last October, followed by snowstorms in the fall, tornadoes in the spring, and more recently, Hurricane Irma.
“It’s been quite a year,” he said.
Sharing McMurry’s optimism on what the Northwest Corridor project would bring next summer was Cobb County Transportation Director Jim Wilgus, who attended the summit. He said McMurry’s estimate of commute times shrinking by 30 minutes was viable.
“It’ll get some of the traffic from, for instance, Cherokee and Bartow (counties) that comes just through Cobb County, will get them through faster and relieve some of the congestion on the general purpose lanes, so that should free up time there as well,” Wilgus said.
He added that the completed project would not just shorten the commute times of those who pay the tolls and drivers who remain on the existing I-75 lanes, but those who drive on other Cobb roads.
“It’ll have an impact on 41 (Cobb Parkway), certainly,”


Might be worth going to this if you are from Kennesaw:

Note: The Cobb County vote was 5-0. It was in the Marietta Daily Journal as below:

Student housing development in Kennesaw skates to county approval

  • Jon Gargis
  •   MDJ 10/17/17 Internet Edition
County commissioners were warm on a proposal to replace the IceForum at Town Center on Busbee Parkway with a 195-apartment development, giving the project their unanimous approval at their zoning meeting Tuesday.
Other projects of note earning approval were a residential project in Cumberland that will see construction of more than 300 units and a new mixed-use development that will replace the former Mountain View Elementary School in northeast Cobb.
Two commissioners expressed concerns about security over Dallas, Texas-based Fountain Residential’s plans to construct a mixed-use development consisting primarily of 195 apartment units that would be marketed to college students.
But both Chairman Mike Boyce and Commissioner JoAnn Birrell gave their approval to the project after the latter included stipulations that she would have to sign off on a security plan for the apartment complex. The property, which is in her district, is near several Kennesaw State facilities, including Fifth Third Bank Stadium just across Busbee Parkway.
“We want to see where the cameras are going, our Precinct 1 (officers) will be patrolling this area,” Birrell said.
Attorney Kevin Moore, who represented Fountain Residential in the zoning matter, said the apartment complex would be gated with secured access to allow only residents and their guests onto the residential portion of the property.
“This is not ‘party central,’” Moore said.
He later said security cameras would be installed on the property and the complex would have in place rules that would kick out residents or guests who, for example, threw a party in the parking deck. Moore shared those details to ease the concerns of Boyce, who said he did not want to see the facility become a “party area.”
“I was in college — my behavior was not ‘A,’” Boyce said, which drew some chuckles from the audience. “This is a magnet for party town. I’m not against having fun … but I also want to deal with reality.”
Moore said he understood Boyce’s stance.
“I enjoyed college as well, so I know exactly what you’re saying,” he said.
Moore said the project will be scheduled for completion sometime in 2020 or 2021 — a distant finish date due in part to the existing IceForum on the site.
The facility, which offers ice skating and hockey programs, is expected to stay open until sometime in the spring, IceForum officials previously told the MDJ. The IceForum is building a new facility off Highway 92 in Woodstock, with plans to open next summer.
NOTE:  2/3rds of the MDJ article is deleted as it was not relevant to this issue.

The Kennesaw Watch
Published by NGSF49 mins
Student housing on IceForum site to get vote Tuesday
Jon Gargis Oct 15, 2017 MDJ
One week after enacting a moratorium on rezoning applications for new student housing, Cobb commissioners will consider Tuesday a 195-apartment development across from Kennesaw State University’s football stadium that would be marketed to college students.
The moratorium doesn’t apply to the project because the rezoning request was filed before the moratorium was enacted.
Other proposed projects set to be voted on at commissioners’ zoning meeting include a new mixed-use development on the site of the former Mountain View Elementary School in northeast Cobb and a new residential project in Cumberland with more than 300 units, while a contentious 153-unit subdivision proposed for Mableton will not see a vote this month.
Dallas, Texas-based Fountain Residential plans to replace the IceForum at Town Center, 3061 George Busbee Parkway NW, with a mixed-use development.
Fountain’s estimated $30 million project would put 195 units marketed to students near several KSU facilities, including Fifth Third Bank Stadium across Busbee Parkway. The development would also include about 17,500 square feet of retail space.
The company’s plans were recommended for approval Oct. 3 by the Cobb Planning Commission, though county commissioners have to grant it final approval before it can move forward.
Attorney Kevin Moore, who is representing Fountain in the zoning matter, said he does not anticipate opposition to the project as the developer amended its plans after discussions with the planning commission and the Bells Ferry Civic Association. Those talks led to the reduction from an originally proposed 215 apartments, while the development’s height was brought down from six stories to five.
If given the green light, Moore said the project would be scheduled for completion sometime in 2020 or 2021. The distant finish date, he said, is due in part to the existing IceForum on the site.
The facility, which offers ice skating and hockey programs, is expected to stay open until sometime in the spring, IceForum officials previously told the MDJ. The IceForum is building a new facility off Highway 92 in Woodstock, with plans to open next summer.
Though recommended for approval by the Cobb Planning Commission earlier this month, a proposed 153-home $50 million development in Mableton will not be voted on by county commissioners until at least November.
Attorney Garvis Sams said Friday that developers Larry and Josh Thompson have agreed to hold their request to rezone 46.4 acres of residential property in south Cobb for a month. The developers seek to build 153 homes on the property — nearly 60 more than its existing residential zoning would allow.
The land, located off Burrus Lane near Chattahoochee Technical College’s Austell campus, is owned by a corporation run by former Gov. Roy Barnes and is within the commission district of Lisa Cupid.
“Commissioner Cupid asked that we voluntarily continue the case until November so she would have more time to study it and look at it, and also give us additional time to discuss it with the representatives of the Mableton Improvement Coalition and area residents,” Sams said. “We thought it best to huddle with the commissioner and find out what her thoughts and direction (were) before we either made any changes or took any further action.”
Sams said the proposed development, which he had estimated to cost $50 million to build, has not been amended since it advanced from the Oct. 3 Cobb Planning Commission meeting. It was recommended for approval by a 3-2 vote, with dissenting votes from Galt Porter and Thea Powell, who were appointed by Cupid and Cobb Chairman Mike Boyce, respectively.
Porter and Powell’s votes against the project came after planning commissioners learned that transportation improvements leading to the residential development would cost more than $954,000 — nearly $600,000 more than the Cobb Department of Transportation’s original estimate of $359,000. Though developers had volunteered to donate $300,000 to Cobb County to fund transportation improvements, the donation would have left the county with a nearly $700,000 bill to accommodate the project.
The next opportunity for county commissioners to consider the project would be their Nov. 21 zoning meeting.
In other business, commissioners will consider:
 A plan to build a $40 to $50 million retail shopping center on the 13.8-acre site of the former Mountain View Elementary School campus in northeast Cobb. Plans for the development, at 3448 Sandy Plains Road just south of Shallowford Road, call for a mixture of retail, restaurant, bank and other permitted retail uses across a total of 103,000 square feet with 600 parking spaces provided.
The Cobb Board of Education in late March agreed to sell the former school site for $1 million an acre. Marietta-based Brooks Chadwick Capital and developer Jeff Fuqua are planning to have the development be a joint venture that involves multiple chef-driven restaurants, some high-end retail and likely a grocery store serving as an anchor.
 A 316-unit residential project on an undeveloped 18.8-acre tract at the southerly corner of Cumberland Parkway and Paces Walk. The units would consist of a mixture of condos and townhomes, some loft-type homes and a few single-family homes.
Projected prices on the homes are expected to start in the mid-$300,000s, with some expected to hit $900,000 and above.

One week after enacting a moratorium on rezoning applications for new student housing, Cobb commissioners will consider Tuesday a 195-apartment development across from Kennesaw State University’s football stadium that would
AJC 10/17/17 Cobb - Powder Springs, Marietta and more can get the latest on Twitter: @cobbnewsnow
KENNESAW - Moratorium until July 2018 for student housing
A moratorium is in effect until July 31 by the Cobb County Board of Commissioners on acceptance of rezoning applications for purpose-built student housing or until county staff have completed an update to two studies.
“To provide guidance on the market conditions for these types of developments,” those studies involve the apartment density study and the analysis on purpose-built student housing, according to Dana R. Johnson, director of the Cobb County Community Development Agency in an Oct. 10 memo to County Manager Rob Hosack.
However, this moratorium will not affect a rezoning request already filed for student housing next to the Kennesaw State University football stadium, Johnson told the commissioners.
The growth in student populations at KSU in the past decade have made additional housing necessary, Johnson said.
The KSU Foundation has been building dormitories and other student housing options. Also, the private sector has been trying to fill this gap with purpose-built student housing.
“It is important that we have a solid foundation on where this market is going and how it can be properly managed,” Johnson said.
“A single purpose-built student housing development that does not perform to market expectations can have a substantial impact on the city, county, university and surrounding neighborhoods,” he added.
If the two studies are not completed by the deadline, Johnson said staff will request an extension of the moratorium.


EDITOR'S PICK 10-15-17

Kennesaw councilman looks to unseat colleague


  • Shaddi Abusaid
  •   MDJ 10/15/17

In an unusual twist of events, Sebastian, who was first elected in 2013 to Post 5, chose to run again this year for a different seat held by Post 4 Councilman Jimmy Dickens.
Chris Henderson, a third candidate who works as a senior research engineer for Georgia Tech, has also thrown his hat in the ring, running on a platform of controlled growth and reeling in the city’s spending.
Sebastian, a 68-year-old broker consultant, said Friday that his decision to switch seats had nothing to do with Dickens’ performance on the City Council, but that he hoped to draw attention to the flaws in Kennesaw’s at-large system of electing council members.
“I want to instill in the council and the citizens just how archaic our election laws are,” he said.
Rather than electing council members at-large where all city residents can vote in each race, Sebastian said he would like to see Kennesaw’s City Council divided into districts where members are selected only by constituents living in the posts they represent.
Dickens, 47, said Friday he was shocked by his colleague’s decision to run against him this November.
“He told me he didn’t like the way we could (run for any seat), so he’s doing it,” Dickens said. “I was disappointed to say the least, but I guess he has the right to do that.”
Dickens said he has nothing but respect for Sebastian, who he said helped show him the ropes when Dickens first joined the City Council, and that he would continue to support him whether he wins or loses.
The Kennesaw barber was elected to the seat vacated by former Councilwoman Debra Williams two years ago during her unsuccessful bid for mayor.
Dickens said if elected, he would focus on bringing additional businesses to downtown Kennesaw and work to alleviate traffic congestion by widening streets and making roadway improvements throughout the city.
“When they developed here, they didn’t do the best job of thinking long term,” he said. “A lot of the streets are just too narrow for a city growing as big as it is. It’s growing tremendously.”
Henderson, the 35-year-old who moved his family to Kennesaw five years ago, agreed.
“I want to see the city continue to grow, but I’d like to see that happen in an organized fashion,” he said Saturday. “Once we get the infrastructure in place to support downtown development, then we can continue to grow. But we can’t take a two-lane road and stick a million apartments on it.”
Sebastian said Kennesaw will continue growing, but said that growth should be managed better. What attracts residents to the area, he said, is that it’s a nice place to live outside the “hustle and bustle” of Atlanta.
“Our ordinances speak for themselves. It’s just a matter of adhering to what they say rather than (approving) a ton of variances,” Sebastian said. “For the last 40 or 50 years, there’s been zoning here, there and everywhere with no real consistency, uniformity or a proper spread of stuff. We need to make sure we control the growth.”
One of the most controversial topics in this year’s city election is the Confederate flag that flies in the heart of downtown Kennesaw. Residents have called for its removal in recent months, saying the flag is divisive and racist.
The issue was reignited in August after a man drove his car through a crowd of counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one woman. Since then, there have been calls in cities across the U.S. to have public flags and monuments celebrating the Confederacy removed.
City spokeswoman Pam Davis said Kennesaw’s hands are tied by a state law protecting military memorials, including Confederate ones. Council members voted 4-1 in August to adopt a resolution asking the state Legislature to revisit the law in the hopes of giving them the authority to decide whether it stays.
Sebastian cast the lost dissenting vote, saying Friday he takes no issue with the flag, but thinks voters should have the final say in whether it stays or goes.
“It’s history,” he said. “It’s been there. It hasn’t hurt anybody and it’s not going to hurt anybody. … I don’t think a municipality or government should be trying to dictate personal and very emotional views on things.”
Instead, he said, Kennesaw’s priorities should be protecting residents and providing services aimed at improving their quality of life.
Dickens and Henderson disagree.
“So many people find it offensive and intimidating,” Dickens said. “For the sake of them, I don’t think it should be on display in the heart of the city where they have to see it every day.”
He said he thinks the Confederate flag belongs in a museum instead, where those who want to learn about the South’s history can do so.
“I can’t help the fact that I was born black,” Dickens said. “It wasn’t like I just woke up one morning and decided I wanted to be an African-American. It’s a hard conversation to have, but I think it’s an important one. … I never want to take away from anyone’s history or heritage, but people find it very hurtful.”
Henderson didn’t hold back his feelings on the symbol either.
“The symbol of hate is the problem and I would like the ability to remove that symbol of hate,” he said. “But we need the ability to honor the memory of the brave souls who that memorial is there to honor.”
The flag flies in the city’s Commemorative Park located next to the Southern Museum at the corner of North Main and Cherokee streets.
Henderson said he wasn’t opposed to a compromise brought up by two residents this summer who suggested swapping the rebel flag with the one originally flown during the Civil War by the Confederate States of America.
“I think that would be a step in the right direction,” he said. “But that flag flying there now is a blatant symbol of hatred and there’s no taking up for it.”
Critics of Dickens raised the issue of his Cobb County arrest record this week.
The councilman addressed that record Friday afternoon, saying he’d been arrested once more than a decade ago for selling pirated DVDs out of his Kennesaw barbershop. But an open records request for his jail records revealed that Dickens has been arrested at least twice, once in 2002 for driving on a suspended or revoked license and once in 2007 for selling the bootleg DVDs.
“It’s not something I’m proud of, but I suppose if anyone were to examine our lives under a microscope, we all make mistakes,” he said. “It’s nothing I try to cover up. I own up to the mistakes I’ve made and I have learned from them.”
Dickens said he simply sold the DVDs to his customers, but never duplicated the recorded material or took a video camera into a movie theater. He said he was placed on probation following his arrest more than 10 years ago, and was released after paying off all his fines.

Kennesaw Council Candidates dish on traffic, trash
Jon Gargis MDJ 10/14/17
To one man vying to become Kennesaw’s next Post 5 councilman, the parking deck behind the Revival on Main mixed-use development off South Main Street is an asset. To the other, it’s an expense that used money that could have gone toward a potential revenue-generating city service.
In August, Post 5 Councilman Jim Sebastian decided not to run for reelection and instead jumped in the race to unseat Post 4’s Jimmy Dickens, joining Chris Henderson to make the contest a three-man race.
Sebastian’s challenge to his fellow councilman opened the door for a new face to join the council.
David Blinkhorn was the first to file his papers during election qualifying, while Bobby Copeland days later became his opponent by qualifying as a write-in candidate.
Blinkhorn, a materials management professional for Kennesaw State University, says he sees the parking deck as a component in managing traffic in Kennesaw and developing a more active downtown.
“The traffic’s there (downtown). The biggest concern to me is how to effectively do the parking,” Blinkhorn said, adding that the deck can provide residents and visitors with a place to leave their cars, though the downtown area itself needs reasons to lure those drivers. If elected, he would push for more businesses downtown.
“I would love to see more activity downtown. I don’t want to say ‘I want to be like Acworth’ or ‘I want to be like Marietta’ — their downtown is on a different scale, a tremendous amount of activity,” Blinkhorn said. “The comparison I make is you go to Swift-Cantrell Park, there’s thousands of people there on the weekend, and you drive one mile downtown, and you don’t have anywhere near that.”
Copeland, owner of Executive Solutions, which provides cleaning services and contracts with firms to handle customer service and sales calls, says he believes the money spent on the parking deck could have been spent elsewhere. Among his ideas he would push for as a councilman is moving trash collection back as a city service. The city contracts with Republic Services to provide sanitation services to residents.
“Right now, Republic does own that contract, and they can kind of raise their rates whenever they want to, like they did recently. I’d look to see how could we (the city) profit off of that versus letting Republic profit off of it every year,” Copeland says, referring to the City Council’s approval last month of a $3 monthly fee increase to provide the service.
The millions spent on the parking deck, Copeland adds, could have been used to bring back the city’s sanitation department.
Kennesaw’s Urban Redevelopment Authority in 2014 approved the issuance of two 30-year bond issues totaling $6.4 million, which were to be used to purchase the parking deck built behind Revival on Main, the MDJ reported at the time.
“That could’ve been something we could’ve used to rebuild the sanitation (department) and make a profit, because that parking garage, people who stay there, they don’t have to pay a fee,” Copeland said. “And we’re repaying this $6 million bond on that garage, and it makes us no money whatsoever.”
Blinkhorn says that while he would not be opposed to moving garbage collections back under the city, it would not be an immediate priority.
“My bigger concern is I know the contract is coming up, they just did an extension, but I think there are some points within the contract that could be renegotiated or gotten out of,” he said.
The two candidates also have their sights on the topic of development.
For Copeland, that means putting a halt to residential developments, saying he would not support as a councilman any new subdivisions or apartment complexes.
“Kennesaw is crowded right now. Sometimes it’s taking 20 minutes just to get 5 miles around the corner, because there’s so much bumper-to-bumper traffic all day long. It can be day and night, and right now, if we start building more houses for more people to come, that’s a good thing, yes, for the taxes, but you get a few people out there (on the roads) that kind of don’t like being in that bumper-to-bumper traffic,” Copeland said.
Blinkhorn said his focus on development would be centered on creating partnerships with the cities of Marietta and Acworth, especially the latter due to its close proximity to Kennesaw, and create a “cultural corridor” concept between the neighboring cities.
“As opposed to going down Cobb Parkway, which is a retail area one after the other after the other, is have it one continuous thing like you have the greenways that are all being tied together throughout Atlanta, try to do something with that being small businesses, small parks, those kinds of things,” he said.
Residents who head to the polls to vote in the Post 5 race will only see Blinkhorn’s name on the ballot; those wishing to select Copeland will have to write in his name. The top vote-getter in the Nov. 8 election will take office in January.

To one man vying to become Kennesaw’s next Post 5 councilman, the parking deck behind the Revival on Main mixed-use development off South Main Street is an asset. MDJONLINE.COM

The Kennesaw Watch 

I can't vote in K but I can tell you what I have said for about six yrs on the topic of businesses in downtown K, and that is that there needs to be more and when Revival on Main St was opened that ground floor rental space was NOT rented out, still isn't and it is not even finished off inside. I have said for 3 yrs that K should 'make them' rent it out. What I get back from one of the Current Council is whining that it is a private company and the City can't do anything. 

My reply has always been along the lines of 'BULLSHIT' get the code enforcement over there every day writing them up for the many infractions they have and let them know that they will be visiting repeatedly until they start renting out those retail spaces. My calling card use to say 'Lead, Follow or Get The Hell Out of the Way', a good slogan for anyone who wants a job on the K Council. (Photo: is some of that unused ground floor retail space)



Kennesaw Police host Drug Take-Back Day

  • Staff reports
  •  MDJ 10/6/17
    This is an opportunity for those who missed the previous events or have subsequently accumulated unwanted, unused prescription drugs to safely dispose of those medications. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.
    Residents can from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. bring prescriptions to the CVS Pharmacy, 2782 Cobb Parkway in Kennesaw.
    “The amount of prescription drugs turned in by the American public during Take-Back Day events speaks volumes about the need to develop a convenient way to rid homes of unwanted or expired prescription drugs,” said Michele M. Leonhart, DEA administrator. “DEA remains hard at work to establish just such a drug disposal process, and will continue to offer take-back opportunities until proper regulations are in place.”

    Kennesaw council could OK 125 student apartments this month

  • Jon Gargis
  •  MDJ 10/6/17

      Neighbors of a proposed 125-unit student housing development within the city limits of Kennesaw are expected to continue to voice opposition on the project when it comes before the City Council later this month.
    Fountain Residential is seeking to build the apartment complex on the site of three homes at 1465 Shiloh Road, 4058 and 4068 Ayers Drive. The 6-acre development’s estimated value is about $100 million or more, said attorney Kevin Moore, who is representing Fountain.
    The Dallas, Texas-based developer is also pursuing this month a county rezoning for 195 student apartments within an estimated $30 million mixed-use development that would replace the IceForum at Town Center, 3061 George Busbee Parkway NW, at the corner of Big Shanty Road. It was approved earlier this week by the Cobb Planning Commission and could be voted on by county commissioners at their Oct. 17 meeting. Moore said that the two developments are not contingent on one another and are being pursued separately.
    The smaller Fountain project earned approval Wednesday night from Kennesaw’s planning and zoning board, Moore said.
    The student apartment complex, he added, would be a fit on Shiloh Road, which serves as a commercial corridor district, and because the road nearly directly feeds into the Kennesaw State University campus.
    “The university’s bus system currently comes right by this property, so we’ll be coordinating with the university on transportation and creating that opportunity (for residents),” Moore added.
    But the complex’s addition of traffic to the corridor, and the roads that would lead to it, are among the concerns of Michael Lavender, who as the president of the Pinetree Civic Association represents about 100 dues-paying residents who live around the nearby Pinetree Country Club off McCollum Parkway.
    Lavender, who resides on Club Drive, says about 400 homes are located around the country club, and that the neighborhood roads that lead to those residences are already clogged by cut-through traffic from other nearby student housing developments.
    “The development they’re looking at — adding 360 beds on Shiloh Road, which is already congested in the mornings and evenings, will probably get more congested during the day as the students are driving back and forth,” Lavender said.
    While Shiloh Road features sidewalks that run from the proposed development location and along an overpass that crosses Interstate 75 and runs into George Busbee Parkway, Lavender believes students will not be likely to utilize those paths, opting instead to put their cars on the road throughout the day to make drives to and from classes.
    Lavender also expects residents’ visiting friends and classmates to add to the vehicle volume in the area.
    “It’s just a tremendous amount of people in a very small area that’s already overcrowded,” he said.
    Kennesaw city council members could face an overcrowded gallery when the development comes up for a vote, which Lavender said he expects since he was among a standing-room only crowd at Wednesday’s hearing that included significant amount of opposition to the project. The council could give the development its final approval at its 6:30 p.m. meeting Oct. 16.

    Harry’s Farmers Market in Marietta sees massive crowds on final day

    • Katy Ruth Camp  MDJ 10/6/17

    MARIETTA — An iconic Marietta grocer welcomed its last customers yesterday after nearly a quarter of a century in business.
    Harry’s Farmers Market at 70 Powers Ferry Road near the Big Chicken, was flooded with customers Thursday hoping to take advantage of heavily discounted goods. Every item in the high-end grocery store — excluding beer and wine — was 50 percent off in preparation for the Whole Foods-owned store’s move into its new location in Kennesaw, which opened today.
    Shopping carts were so scarce, many people followed other customers out to their cars and asked for their carts once they loaded groceries into their cars. The checkout lines were so crowded, many of the grocery aisles were inaccessible and full of people waiting to get to the cashiers to check out.
    At 1 p.m., two of the cashiers said they had been there since 6:30 a.m. and that there had been a constant swarm of customers.
    Harry’s Marietta location opened in 1993 under Harry Blazer’s ownership. Blazer’s brother, Robert, opened the popular DeKalb Farmer’s Market in 1977 and Harry Blazer came to work as the store manager. After nearly a decade of working with his brother, Harry Blazer broke away from his brother’s store and began opening his own stores with the same concept but under the name Harry’s Farmers Market.
    In 2010, Whole Foods Market acquired Harry’s and, in 2011, the Cobb grocer underwent renovations. Ironically, rumors swirled during renovations that Harry’s was closing due to the opening of a new Whole Foods store in the east Cobb development Merchant’s Walk.
    “Our store is staying open and we have no plans to close in the future,” said marketing director Martha Oh, at the time. “We’ve heard all sorts of rumors, but our west Cobb shoppers would be very disappointed if we closed this location.”
    Whole Foods announced in spring of 2015 that it would be relocating Harry’s Farmers Market into a 46,000-square-foot space in Kennesaw at the corner of Barrett and Cobb Parkways and that it would lose the Harry’s name. The new Whole Foods store opens at 9 a.m. today and the first 500 customers will receive free gifts cards ranging in amounts from $5 to $50, with one $500 card in the mix.
    Five percent of opening-day sales will be donated to the Swift-Cantrell Foundation, which supports the development of Kennesaw’s Swift-Cantrell Park.
    As for the now-former Harry’s space, Studio Movie Grill is expected to open in the shopping center in November, according to its website. The in-theater dining concept will feature several screens along with an American grill menu and premium bar, which moviegoers can order from while they watch their films or enjoy at the bar or lounge.
    The development will include 1,285 luxury lounge chairs and recliners in 11 auditoriums outfitted with the latest digital projection. The company has 30 locations in the U.S., including Duluth and Alpharetta.