What is the SCRA?
The South Cobb Redevelopment Authority has powers that have a wide-ranging impact on the revitalization, redevelopment and economic vitality of the area that it serves. The SCRA has the authority to issue bonds, industrial revenue bonds, to assist in financing infrastructure improvements that will foster economic growth and vitality in South Cobb. SCRA can provide property tax incentives and other incentives through a “bonds-for-title” (or “bond-lease”) structure. The authority issues bonds to acquire or construct the project at which time the private developer conveys fee simple title to property to the authority. In essence, the structure is a framework designed to vest and pass title to the development authority. The passing of title then enables the authority to provide ad valorem tax savings and possibly obtain state grants and local incentives for the company. Additionally, the SCRA owns over 50 acres of land near I-20 and Six Flags. The SCRA is currently marketing this property to real estate developers for redevelopment opportunities.
The SCRA Board consists of seven members. Four members are appointed by the Cobb County Board of Commissioners and will serve four-year terms. The remaining three members are appointed by representatives of the Cobb County Delegation to the Georgia General Assembly whose districts are entirely or in-part located in the SCRA’s physical jurisdiction, and will serve four-year terms (except the initial three Delegation appointees, who will serve one, two and three-year terms, respectively).
The SCRA Board
Chairman, Doug Stoner
Doug Stoner is a life long resident of South Cobb, graduating from Campbell High School and earning a B.S. of Political Science and Government from Kennesaw State University. As a multi generation Cobb County business owner and resident, Doug was naturally drawn to civic service. He was first appointed to the Smyrna Downtown Development Authority in 1991 and served until 2016 as the Vice Chairman of that authority. He was next appointed in 1995 to the Cobb Transit Board, which oversees and advises the Cobb Commission on Cobb Community Transit.
Doug was elected Chairman of the Cobb Transit Board by his fellow board members in 1999 and served as Chairman till his election to Georgia General Assembly in 2002 to represent Smyrna and South Cobb.
Doug served one term in the Georgia House of Representatives from 2002 to 2004. In 2004, he was elected to the Georgia State Senate representing South Cobb. Doug served in the Georgia Senate till 2012. He was elected Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus in 2010 by his fellow Senators. During his 8 year tenure in the Georgia Senate he also served as the Vice Chair of the State Institutions and Properties Committee, Chairman of the Senate Intermodal, Rail, and Transit Subcommittee and as Ranking member of the following Senate Committees, Transportation, Regulated Industries and Public Utilities, Economic Development, and State and Local Government Operations.
In 2011 as Senator, Doug authored and passed the local legislation that expanded the South Cobb Development Authority into the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority(SCRA) and its broader mission of redevelopment and revitalization of unincorporated South Cobb. In 2013, after finishing 10 years of service in the Georgia General Assembly, Doug was appointed to the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority. He was elected Vice Chairman of the SCRA in September 2013.
Doug resides in the City of Smyrna with his wife Della and his two daughters. He is a member of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, Smyrna First United Methodist Church, and Cobb County Democratic Party.
Vice-Chairman, Daryl Watkins
Darhyl L. Watkins was appointed to the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority by the Board of Commissioners in 2011. He is a Management Consultant with over 25 years of experience in driving process efficiencies, organizational changes and operational growth. He has worked with such consulting firms as Ernst & Young, Oracle, Deloitte and KPMG. He has also been an active resident of West Cobb County for over 25 years. He has been active in activities ranging from youth athletics, community improvement planning and voter education.
Secretary, Herschel R. Tolson, Jr.
Herschel R. Tolson, Jr. is the President/CEO of Premier Learning Academy (PLA) located in South Cobb. PLA provides education to children from Infants to 12 years of age, and has built a platform of developmental milestones. One goal of PLA is to lay the foundation for children's future educational endeavors. Prior to relocating to Georgia in 2011, Herschel was appointed and served as Deputy Director of Contract Compliance for Cook County Government and Cook County Health and Hospital Systems in Chicago, IL for eight years.
He was responsible for the review of bid and professional service/sole source contracts to ensure compliance to a mandated ordinance. He also worked with major corporations in the development of their Supplier Diversity Program as it relates to Governmental affairs. Prior to his work with Cook County Government, Herschel served in the Insurance industry for 14 years securing licenses in all lines of insurance, including Series 6 and Series 63 licenses. While in Chicago, Herschel invested in several real estate ventures including acquisition, rehabilitation and development.
Herschel earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Marketing/Economics with a concentration in Accounting and Advertising, at Xavier University of Louisiana. He also obtained certification as an American Contract Compliance Administrator from Morgan State University.
Herschel lives in Georgia with his wife Elise and his two daughters. He has been actively involved on the Finance Council at his church as well as being very instrumental in assisting with the improvement of various areas in South Cobb.
Treasurer, Ed Richardson
Ed currently serves as President of Richardson Management Group, LLC (RMG), an executive recruiting and staffing firm headquartered in Smyrna, GA. Prior to founding RMG, Ed served in various management and technical positions at The Home Depot, SciTek, Alltel, and Accenture. His 20+ years of experience span Information Technology, Retail, Telecommunications and Government Contracting environments.
Ed received his B.S. in Mathematics from Morehouse College and his M.S. in Operations Research from Georgia Tech. Ed’s civic involvement includes current and past leadership roles with the Cobb Schools Foundation, Floyd Middle School Foundation, Centennial Plaza Apartments and Hylton Point Apartments for older adults.
Board Member, Dale Kaetzel
Dale Kaetzel is the park president of Six Flags Over Georgia and Six Flags White Water. The entertainment veteran was appointed earlier this year after previously serving in the same role at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Northern California. At Six Flags Atlanta properties, Kaetzel is responsible for all park operations, strategic direction and general management duties.
Prior to joining Six Flags, Kaetzel spent eight years as a senior executive at four of five Paramount Parks, including as Senior Vice President and General Manager of Canada’s Wonderland in Toronto. Prior to Paramount, Kaetzel served for 13 years in senior executive, marketing and operations roles for Centre Management/MCI Center in Washington, D.C., a preeminent sports and entertainment venue, now called the Verizon Center and home to major NBA, WNBA and NHL franchises and other live entertainment events.
In the mid-eighties Kaetzel served as Director of Marketing for the San Francisco Giants, and was part of many memorable campaigns including the anti-mascot Crazy Crab, Croix de Candlestick, and the 1984 MLB All Star Game. Mr. Kaetzel’s prior experience in theme park, venue and entertainment management showcases his expertise to take Six Flags Atlanta properties through a multiyear transformation as the Southeast’s leading entertainment destination.
Board Member, Edrick Harris
As Senior Vice President of Development for the Prestwick Development Company, Edrick focuses on new development and redevelopment opportunities throughout the Southeast. Edrick leads the team which is responsible for development of affordable multifamily, independent senior living, and tax credit acquisition and rehabilitation.
Edrick Harris has more than 15 years of experience in real estate development. His previous project experience allows him to assist the company in the creation and implementation of new development opportunities. His team responsibilities include sourcing multifamily opportunities throughout the Southeast.
Prior to joining Prestwick Development, Edrick served as the Director of Real Estate Development for H.J. Russell and Company and Vice President with the Benoit Group, successfully completing over 20 projects including several mixed income and mixed use projects. His project portfolio includes several key revitalization projects such as Historic Westside Village, The Legacy at Castleberry Hill, and the Villages of Carver. Of note, the Villages at Carver is a $63 million redevelopment that included market, PHA, LIHTC, and Tax Exempt Bond financed units. The total program was 667 units in 5 phases completed over 9 years.
Edrick has also worked for the city of Kennesaw as the Planning and Zoning Administrator serving as the department lead. His duties included plan review, development consultation, and planning & zoning analysis. He received a bachelors in real estate and a planning master’s degree from Georgia Tech.
Board Member, Vacant
South Cobb Implementation Strategy
The South Cobb Implementation Strategy (SCIS) is the culmination of previous County-led efforts (planning studies, infrastructure improvements, etc.) to create a balanced methodology for implementing the necessary projects to improve South Cobb County. The SCIS is designed to serve as a guide for future actions that will serve as the primary basis for preserving, protecting, and enhancing South Cobb’s existing assets, while simultaneously transforming the area’s liabilities into strengths. It was adopted by the Cobb County Board of Commissioners in January 2012. The South Cobb Redevelopment Authority was requested to spearhead the implementation of the strategy by the Cobb County.
To identify improvements for each of the three identified nodes and establish a comprehensive tool that provides a concise strategy of implementation to improve the quality of life in South Cobb.
This strategic plan is used to guide the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority and other future development initiatives for South Cobb. This initiative has lead to improvements in the community’s quality-of-life, encourage private market investment to expand economic activity and produce efficiency in land use, transportation and economic development to ensure that Cobb County grows in a safe and stable manner.
The plan focuses on redevelopment in four areas in South Cobb:
- River Line area along the Chattahoochee River
- Six Flags Drive
- Cobb Hospital
Rather than feature a single centerpiece, it includes a variety of short-term projects such as park and road improvements already on the current Special Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) project list, along with initiatives to encourage private development to build transformative projects in the three target areas.
Successful fulfillment of the South Cobb Implementation Strategy will be tracked and measured according to five (5) distinct goals. Although the goal areas are inter-related, each one stands alone in terms of being significant in the desired transformation of South Cobb. The goal areas are as follows:
- Community Education and Community Involvement
- Economic Development
- Examine previous studies and plans for each node
- Identify projects and other redevelopment mechanisms that were recommended
- Create a strategic plan and timeline for project implementation for various projects within each node
- Projects are categorized by type (Community Development, Economic Development, Public Safety, Transportation, Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, and Department of Transportation)
- Create a list of economic development tools that could be beneficial to the area (Enterprise Zone, Opportunity Zone, Commercial and Industrial Property Rehabilitation Program, Tax Allocation District (TAD), Tourism Development Act, New Market Tax Credit, Community Development Block Grant, Section 108 Loan Guarantee, Neighborhood Stabilization Program, and more).
In effect, the greater goal is to build new market share for the area and improve the quality-of-life for those that reside in South Cobb. Additionally, the SCIS will be used as a means to collaborate with partners in the private and non-profit sectors to improve education, increase social capacity, and facilitate efforts designed to foster community improvements.
These efforts leverage public, private, and non-profit resources in an area that is in need of economic revitalization. By taking a holistic approach in doing this, the active partners help to ensure that past mistakes that may have contributed to decline in portions of South Cobb are not repeated. The seeds that are planted here, with these efforts, lead to South Cobb growing and prospering in a manner that forms the basis for quality community prosperity.
Current South Cobb residents, property owners and business owners are the key stakeholders that were considered when developing the SCIS. Additionally, potential investors were highly regarded and considered. Elected officials, private corporations and non-profit entities were also considered, as they possess the collective influence and resources necessary to successfully carry out this implementation effort.
The keys to the ultimate success of the South Cobb Implementation Strategy lies in three particular areas within South Cobb that, when redeveloped, will drive revitalization and reinvestment throughout all of South Cobb. The Six Flags, Mableton and River Line areas have each been individually targeted by Cobb County for revitalization, which has resulted in a significant contribution of staff time and financial resources to efforts in each of the respective areas.
Additionally, each area has been awarded study funding through the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) program and, in particular, Mableton has been included in ARC’s Lifelong Communities program, which focuses on senior citizens and the features a community needs for them to live and function comfortably and independently.
Considering the high level of interest and activity in each of the three aforementioned areas, there within lies an opportunity to create a single, cohesive implementation plan for all of South Cobb that will promote investment in housing, business attraction and retention and public infrastructure. The results, if executed fully, will be improved market share for business interests and improved quality-of-life for residential and civic interests.