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Large retail center planned for Ga. 365

Atlanta company seeks rezoning of 200 acres on Ga. 365

POSTED: January 27, 2008 5:05 a.m.
An Atlanta shopping center developer plans to build a 750,000-square-foot shopping center just north of Exit 24 on Ga. 365.

Will Cobb, a broker with The Norton Agency, said The Gipson Co. is preparing a zoning application for about 200 acres on the east side of Ga. 365. Initial approval is being sought from the Georgia Mountains Regional Development Center as the project is a development of regional impact.

The center, known as Mountainbrook Farm, would be an open air marketplace with a mix of big box and specialty retailers. Cobb said the site could eventually include a location for a hotel.

"We do have a lot of interest and have a good site in this market," Cobb said. The site is in the city limits of Gainesville and will have access to sewer service.

Gipson is no stranger to Northeast Georgia. The company currently owns McEver Corners, the shopping center at the intersection of McEver Road and Dawsonville Highway that is home to Kohl’s and Bed, Bath and Beyond. The company also has a Wal-Mart anchored center in Cornelia.

While Cobb did not identify potential tenants, he said that the list contains some retailers who are not currently in the Hall County market. While no timetable has been announced, Cobb said some prospects have expressed interest in being open in time for the 2009 Christmas shopping season.

Frank Norton Jr., president of The Norton Agency, said retail dollars are flying out of Hall County.

"Fifty percent of the shopping dollars spent by Hall County citizens are spent outside of Hall County," Norton said, adding the county is losing both property and sales tax dollars.

"Every time a new Wal-Mart opens in the northern perimeter outside Hall County, we lose part of those shopping dollars," he said.

Norton said the market for the new center could reach as far as Franklin, N.C.

"What this developer is proposing is a regional lifestyle center," he said. "Residents of Franklin either have to come to the Mall of Georgia or go to Asheville (N.C.) for specialty shopping."

Norton said more than 40,000 cars pass the site every day.

"This could jump-start the rest of 365," Norton said.

Hall County Commissioners gave approval last week to Hagen Creek, a major residential development with a commercial component on Ga. 365 near Lula.



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