The City of Smyrna has enjoyed the success that comes from dedication to a well-rounded plan and the willingness to adapt that plan to changing conditions. That success in redevelopment and community building stands as a model for other cities. This section gives a brief review of how Smyrna came to be a model for redevelopment and success. Learn when and how Smyrna changed the look and function of the downtown area with the Village Green and the Market Village. Find out how the City of Smyrna, acting as anchor tenant in the new downtown, sparked the "Halo Effect."
Beginning: 1988 - Smyrna started with a vision, developed a plan, relied upon leadership to hold fast to the plan and remain dedicated, and achieved success in 14 years instead of the 30 all predicted. It was in 1988 that Smyrna's name appeared in a National Geographic Magazine article about Atlanta and surrounding areas. The article described the entire Atlanta area as "adolescent." The article described Smyrna in even less flattering terms. The writer missed something important. What went unmentioned was the heart of the community and the potential. That article marked the beginning of a desire to change and that desire required a plan. The plan required action. Action was taken. The result is a resilient and welcoming city that other cities wish to copy. Elected leadership and citizens began by meeting in public forum and in planning sessions to decide what they wanted to remain and what they wanted to change. Changing the downtown was at the core of all desires. It was decided that City government would act as anchor tenant and bring usefulness back to the downtown area. The concept of the Village Green was formed. The Village Green would include common space, a library and a community center. A timeline for future construction was set and work began.
The City of Smyrna, the "jonquil city," has been in the business of reinventing, growing and changing since 1988. The original master plan was anticipated to take 30 years for completion. Smyrna achieved, if not surpassed, the objectives of the master plan in only 14 years. A key to the success is that leadership remained loyal to the plan, but flexible, adjusting to times and opportunities. They remain as dedicated and as motivated today. The following is a timeline of major development events that can be attributed to direct actions of leadership:
•1988 – Plan Established
•1991 – Community Center & Library (City acting as anchor tenant in the new downtown)
•1996 - Thomas Enterprises/City Retail
•1996 – Downtown Infrastructure & City Hall
•1997 – Public Safety Building (Police)
•1999 – Welcome Center & Museum
•1999 – Fire Station #1
•2002 – Market Village & Veterans Memorial
•2005 - Successful Parks Bond Referendum
•2009 – Many major projects from the Parks Bond work are being opened such as Taylor-Brawner Park and the Wolfe Adult Recreation Center
The financial data associated with City-initiated redevelopment and public/private partnerships is listed below:
•1991 – Downtown Smyrna Development Authority purchased land and built Library with $6.4 million Bond, purchased land and built Community Center with $8.6 million bond
•1996 – City of Smyrna/Thomas Enterprises Retail – Public/Private Partnership/Joint venture with $2.3 million gained for approximately ½ the cost of City Hall and surrounding improvements
•1997 – Downtown Development Authority built Jail and Police Station with $7.6 million Bond
•1999 – Welcome Center and Museum built with approximately $750,000 from General Revenue
•1999 – Fire Station built with approximately $3 million out of General Revenue
•2002 – Veterans Memorial Park built and dedicated to City as Public Park by Veterans Memorial Association of Smyrna - $1.3 million
•2002 – Market Village – Public/Private Partnership with a total cost of $10 million (City covering $3 million in infrastructure & streetscape)
•2004 – Second phase of Market Village shops completed and expansion of the Village Pavilion completed (Village Pavilion privately funded)
•2005 – Successful $22 million Parks Bond Referendum
The result of the plan, the dedication and all the hard work is a community that is not only a model of mixed-use development and careful, thoughtful planning, but is also the reflection of a great deal of heart and soul. This town that once had a very small voice, has a strong, attractive voice that calls for everyone to participate in community and to be a part of it, with the commitment of every corner of each and every heart calling her home. Smyrna is an energetic and vital partner in regional strength. Smyrna grows and changes almost daily in delightful ways. Smyrna, in her heart, is open and connected. Smyrna, on the ground, is becoming more open and more connected to the region each and every day. Smyrna citizens are more active and connected each and every day.
Village Green - Solid concept. Dreamy realityIn the mid-1980s, Smyrna was beginning to experience a loss of identity to suburban sprawl in Cobb County. Mayor and City Council took unprecedented steps to reverse this trend and to revitalize.They knew that the new downtown had to be a place with a sense of family and community - a village to call home. Council felt that there needed to be a common meeting ground, a focal point where people could come together. They envisioned a town center with a library and community center, private housing, retail and office space, a city hall and a public safety facility. This concept is a thriving, successful dreamy reality. It is the Smyrna "Village Green."
Market Village - Social center. Healthy heartThe Market Village is the heart of downtown - the new social center. This phase of downtown development is unmatched in appeal and village atmosphere. The design features 16 townhomes, 40,000 sq ft of retail space and another 18,000 sq ft of office space. Whatever you think you know about mixed-use today, rest assured that if it works, the idea got an early start in Smyrna. The success experienced by Smyrna has encouraged others to apply the formula. Whatever you think you know about "Live, Work, Play," rest assured that it is at its best in Smyrna and it is the Market Village.
The Halo - A local saying goes that "Smyrna is a city with a halo." What this means is that, historically, bad weather and major mishaps seem to bounce right over Smyrna. Economic Development professionals know that there is another explanation for the halo over Smyrna. Smyrna is a champion in sparking the "halo effect." Smyrna’s revitalization efforts began in earnest with redevelopment of the 30-acre downtown Market Village and Village Green. The success of this New Urbanist mixed-use development created a positive halo effect on surrounding property values allowing the City to lower property taxes by as much as 30 percent.