In early 2009, DPZ completed a multiple site study for the Atlanta Regional Commission for a "Lifelong Communities" Regional Plan. One of the subject sites included land in the City of Mableton owned by former Governor Roy Barnes. DPZ's work on the Mableton case study extended beyond the boundaries provided, investigating a large-scale sprawl repair retrofit for a larger planning area. Following the regional study, Cobb County contracted DPZ to refine and implement the vision that emerged form the 2009 work.
Cobb County is located to the northwest of Atlanta, within the commuter belt of the metropolis. Originally Mableton began as a small town along a regional rail line. As Atlanta expanded in all directions, Mableton was enveloped by growth, not all of it good. At the time of the charrette, much of the land outside of Mableton's core had been developed with strip malls and subdivisions, symptomatic of sprawl. Portions of the core have retained their initial grid and platting, while much of the remaining area has deteriorated. Yet, despite a difficult recent history, Mableton boasts a high degree of existing civic infrastructure, including parks, a school, library, post office and other public facilities.
DPZ's plan re-focuses the town around its civic amenities and provides a process for housing and mixed-use infill in support of that center. As part of the Lifelong Communities initiative, the proposed plan also seeks to provide services and recreation for aging adults and children, who are disenfranchised by car-dependent sprawl. The master plan and public process set the vision for the adoption of a form-based code, the SmartCode, executed by DPZ for the project area. The code enables the master plan vision, providing the framework for the re-zoning of existing lots and the prioritization of capital improvements in new thoroughfares, modifications to existing thoroughfares and the creation of public space throughout the community.
Cobb County has formally adopted the new zoning ordinance and has subsequently adopted a Special Local Option Sales Tax to fund community improvements. Mableton exemplifies the process of sprawl repair, with strong support from county government.
In addition to the main master plan vision, a long-range plan for the southern portion of the Mableton study area supplements the town with opportunities for high density housing and office space. As Atlanta continues to expand its transit services, the Mableton area is ready to support the polycentric city as a transit town.