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Cobb County, Braves spar over tax breaks for new office tower near ballpark

SunTrust Park

A proposed 250,000-square-foot tower near Truist Park to house new Truist Financial Corporation offices is seeing opposition from Cobb County officials who say the Atlanta Braves are seeking tax breaks in violation of previous pledges.

When Cobb County was debating the financial plan for the ballpark and The Battery, the mixed-used district surrounding the ballpark, President and CEO of Braves Development Company Mike Plant is on record as saying the team would not seek subsidies for mixed-use development. So there are a few members of the Development Authority of Cobb County (DACC) asking why the team is seeking a 10-year property tax break to help finance a $200-million, 250,000-square-foot office tower for Truist Securities, Truist’s full-service corporate and investment bank.

According to a press release from the team and Truist, the 250,000-square-foot building will be designed and built to a LEED standard, home to approximately 1,000 Truist Securities employee, and feature a state-of-the-art trading floor and be located immediately behind Truist Park—approximately 300 feet from home plate. Construction is expected to begin in the second half of 2022 with the building expected to open in 2024.

This is, of course, exactly the kind of development the Braves–and Cobb County, for that matter– expected to feature when embarking on planning for the ballpark and The Battery. But what Cobb County did not expect were further property-tax abatements after approving $300 million in such abatements for Truist Park. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“One of the things that I recall when the Battery and the park were built was the promise that the Braves … would not come back and ask for additional abatements beyond what was already being provided to the ballpark,” said board member Karen Hallacy. “How does that fit into this coming in and the Braves basically asking for tax abatements on the property?”

However, Braves officials and the chairman of the county’s redevelopment authority disputed that a promise had been broken.

“We’re not asking for them (the tax breaks),” Mike Plant, the president of the Braves development arm replied. “Truist is.”…

While Plant says the incentives are for its tenant, DACC Chair Clark Hungerford offered another reason the team didn’t break its promise: He said the office tower would technically be outside the 2 million square-foot mixed-use development known as The Battery.

Despite some stated objections, the property-tax proposal passed the DACC by a 5-2 margin, so it’s hard to say the objections were real or merely performative; what the Braves are asking for is line with other tax-relief requests made elsewhere in Cobb County. Talks will continue.

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