Experts: Mableton Should Separate Itself from Austell

If Mableton wants to see redevelopment and growth, it should do what it can to improve its reputation, including separating itself from Six Flags area and Austell.

Mableton should do what it can to separate itself from Austell if it wants to advance, according to the one-day analysis of various business and technical leaders in the Atlanta area.

The Urban Land Institute of Atlanta’s Technical Assistance Program committee, composed of professionals from various sectors, convened for a full day on April 11. They were selected to include an array of professional expertise and were not compensated for their time.

What is the ULI TAP?

The ULI, established in 1936, is a non-profit research and education organization, which promotes responsible land uses to create thriving communities. ULI TAP brings together professionals with various experiences and skills to offer their expertise to help communities solve development and redevelopment challenges.

What are Mableton's challenges?

One of the major challenges facing Mableton is its “poor reputation,” which TAP members say are actually related to the Six Flags area.

“Mableton got saddled with the poor reputation of the Six Flags area when there was no one rebutting the misperception,” according to the TAP analysis report, which also states that Mableton is fighting a reputation for being “redneck” despite the development of two John Weiland subdivisions.

What exactly is Mableton’s reputation? Should Mableton do all it can to separate itself from the Six Flags and Austell areas to change its “poor reputation?” How can this be done? Tell us in the comments below.


Who contributed to the analysis?

In order to support the TAP, Lifelong Mableton re-engaged those community members who participated in the Design Charette a few years ago during the initial planning stages of the Mableton Form-Based Code, a zoning designation which will allow for mixed-use development to help establish a pedestrian-friendly town center in Mableton. With the help of the AARP, 68 respondents were surveyed and ranked various elements of lifelong communities in order of importance.

Although Mableton is predominantly nonwhite, 11 of the 12 individuals who participated in stakeholder interviews were white. State Rep. David Wilkerson, who lives in Marietta and whose district serves a small portion of Mableton, was the sole nonwhite stakeholder interviewed. Three of the 12 interviewed were women.

What were the main objectives of the TAP?

The TAP focused on three objectives:

1. Provide feedback on the market opportunities in Mableton, focusing on:

  • the kind of development best suited for the area in the next two to three years and then in the next three to seven years;
  • what development (type, location, structure, etc.) would be most impactful; and
  • what economic development strategies and incentives may be required to stimulate such development. This will include private sector feedback on the adopted form-based code;

2. Identify development impediments other than economic factors and recommend strategies for overcoming such impediments; and

3. Recommend strategies for marketing Mableton to attract development, specifically including using branding concepts.

What are the next steps for Mableton?

The TAP members identified several actions that can be taken to help redevelopment efforts in Mableton:

  1. Identifying a leader, called a “champion,” who can champion Mableton without any conflicts of interest. “At present, there is simply no guiding force that would be the one to sell Mableton when the brand is created and the marketing plan developed,” according to the TAP’s summary of recommendations.
  2. Consider creating a township. The TAP members recognized that incorporation may be inappropriate for Mableton right now, but a township could be an adequate fit for the community.
  3. Begin marketing and branding efforts by forming a marketing advisory action committee and developing a brand positioning statement.

South Cobb Patch will continue to explore the results of the ULI TAP’s analysis of Mableton this week and seek your feedback about what this group identified as strengths, challenges and its recommendations for actions that should be taken in the short and long term to improve redevelopment in Mableton.

Note: The article originally stated that Mableton is predominantly African-American. Although the majority of Austell is African-American, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Mableton is 54 percent nonwhite, but the majority is not African-American. The Census shows that about 16,900 people (46 percent) in Mableton identify as white and about 14,700 (40 percent) identify as African-American.

Dr. Robert C. Moore, Sr. September 04, 2012 at 11:04 AM
Our church is in Austell. From time to time I hear remarks like this about Austell, vs. Mableton. It makes me wonder how does the City Council of Austell view the image and reputation of the City of Austell?
Ivory Dorsey, Speaker, Facilitator, and Author September 04, 2012 at 11:23 AM
"Who can champion Mableton without any conflicts of interest? That is the question!
Charles Black September 04, 2012 at 11:41 AM
When people ask me where I am from I tel them the tri-city area: Austell Mableton Atlanta.
electric123 September 04, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Has anyone ever hear of the term" A house divided cannot stand" I see no value in separating the two cities, when I have people come to my home I use Six Flags as a landmark for directions, They adjoin each other, what the useful purpose?
Anne Taylor September 04, 2012 at 01:03 PM
I attended the last SCDA meeting and when the reference was made about the Six Flags area the person said "Mableton needed to separate itself from the "the other area"... referring to Six Flags. I thought to myself isn't this organization called the South Cobb Redevelopement Authority not Mableton Redevelopement Authority. The lack of a racially diverse survey of the citizens that live and pay taxes in the area is missing and in my opinion is unfair.
Kiri Walton (Editor) September 04, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Great question, Dr. Moore. Sounds like a great article to me. I'll make sure to do one!
Randy Smyrna realist September 04, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Mableton will benefit greatly. That's the only way to improve austell as well. No other option. It's hard to improve large areas. It's a lot easier to improve smaller areas. Same happened and still happening downtown Atlanta . I wonder whats Shirley Franklin s opinion on the matter.
Larry King September 04, 2012 at 01:44 PM
I attended the presentation by ULI as well. The Technical Assistance Program they produced sought to identify market opportunities for Mableton along with strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats to redevelopment. However, the findings of these well paid “experts” did not represent measurable added value that has been absent from previous area studies and investigations. From what I have heard from my neighbors across South Cobb, this input to SCDA was information not already part of general community knowledge on how to attract or create redevelopment in Mableton. The only nugget was the idea of a CID creation. I see five shortcomings contained in the report and the process.  TAP panel members were not representative of the life experiences and knowledge in the diversity of the Mableton community as stated in the project area profile.  Outreach to gain untapped perspective was not sufficiently robust.  Recommendations do not reflect that area demographics are dynamic across all spectrums  Mableton of the future will remain naturally linked to the future of Austell, Six Flags district, and Smyrna  Separate governing strategy problematic
Andrea Young September 04, 2012 at 01:51 PM
My opinion, keep the two cities together it could make them stronger/ better. Hold people accountable on all sides. Set expectations high and it is possible that people will rise to the occasion.
L A Hays September 04, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Agreed, Anne; the big picture is south Cobb. Unless all "areas" can concur about that, I suspect that we'll continue to see ticky-tacky development, and zoning applications for heavy industrial, land fills, and dumps being presented to the Cobb Commission because presently a lot of south Cobb looks like those types of businesses would fit right in. MIC does a great job of resisting those applications, but unless there's strong pressure from all citizens to define where they want to live, we'll continue to squander resources on defending our turf instead of investing our resources in moving forward. Our police and fire departments also do a remarkable job, but I want to see a bigger presence to convince the criminal element that there's no place for them here. Outside perception will determine our success; we can and must control how that is shaped.
Joe Andreska September 04, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Important thing to remember--Austell is already city, Mableton is no longer a city. If Austell wants to define Mableton (a non incorporated area) then it should annex Mableton. I agree that Mableton needs to become more autonomous. I think a township could be a fine idea!
Renee Booker September 04, 2012 at 10:44 PM
O.o...really...doesn't everyone want the same things...IJS???
Sylvia Parker September 05, 2012 at 02:08 AM
I am a life long Mableton resident but I am just about ready to throw in the towel. I would like to know how many rental properties there are in our area and where the owners of these properties actual live. Do they care the grass is knee deep or higher? Or that the houses need maintenance in the worst ways? Or that there is trash, junk, fallen tree limbs, etc. on the property? Landlords should be held accountable for how their properties look. This would be a start.
L A Hays September 05, 2012 at 11:42 AM
You can look online to determine the names of property owners from checking Cobb property tax records.
Ann September 05, 2012 at 06:21 PM
I moved to Mableton in 1989 to raise my child. It has been a great place for us and she is now also a Mableton Homeowner. I think we can work on the South Cobb area together and improve it instead of always trying to split apart from out resources and neighbors. We should work with Austell and Smyrna to keep businesses rather than seeing them close to move 2 blocks away and create empty shopping centers everywhere in the area. We can have a strong south cobb, but not by working against each other
AW September 07, 2012 at 03:17 AM
I just couldn't let this article go by without adding my two cents. My first thought is that this group of "experts" did not provide expert-like recommendations because they failed to do a proper community assessment. How could they say to separate from Austell when the cities co-exist? When children live in Mableton and go to school in Austell (S. Cobb High) or live in Austell and go to school in Mableton (Pebblebrook)? Or, when the major shopping hub for Mableton is located in Austell (E/W Connector)? Furthermore, if you ask me, Mableton sits in the middle of Austell. So, if you improve Mableton and not Austell, you will still have the problems of Austell leaking into revitalized Mableton. The appropriate recommendation would have been to encourage the two communities to work together for improvement of the whole S. Cobb area, as is recommended by the consultant report from the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority study. The recommendation could have been expanded to say that entities such the Mableton Improvement Coalition (MIC) and the Austell Community Taskforce should do more to work together for improving the area. Finally, people tend to use the blanket term "Six Flags Area" when I think most often they are referring to the apartments and businesses on Six Flags Dr. that have long been neglected and has high rates of crime. However, there are several other subdivisions and streets in the "Six Flags Area" that are no different than those in Mableton.
AW September 07, 2012 at 03:31 AM
Hi Sylvia, Property owners are held accountable, but it's up to the neighbors to speak up. Submit a code enforcement complaint on the Cobb County Government site at http://comdevca.cobbcounty.org/citizenaccess/. I'm sure they'll care about cutting the grass and cleaning up if they are fined.
another comment September 07, 2012 at 11:39 PM
What needs to happen is all those subdivisions in Mableton need to realize that they are not in Vinings. It really gets ridiculous when they call themselves Vinings Estates etc and have a Mapleton address. Give me a Break. Then the folks who bought the cheap houses off of Bankhead Hwy, think they should send their kids to school at Campbell, and Teasley. Aren't you line jumping a bit. If you want to buy a cheap house live in the school district.
PBDeneen February 27, 2013 at 01:09 PM
Agree with poster AW above. Austell and Mableton need to divorce from the Six Flags area. As a life long Austell resident, Six Flags has done nothing but bring down the perception of both communities. When you read the crime stories and see exactly where the crime was committed or the alleged criminal lives, more often than not it is in the Six Flags area -- not Austell or Mableton.


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