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Midtown, downtown, South Hall and wine: Four cool things we're watching in 2020
01022019 VISITS
Diletto Bakery opened in late 2019. - photo by Nick Bowman

More people, and money, flowing into Hall County at the end of a record economic year for the state mean one thing in 2020: There will be plenty of exciting places to spend some cash in the new year.

While a hefty number of restaurants are catching attention, not all of the spots to watch in 2020 are resolution-busters. Here are a few things we’re keeping an eye on this year:

Midtown Gainesville

Midtown was in the news a good bit in 2019, and for good reason: Gainesville is angling to finally close the deal on a revitalization of the area that has been in the works, or at least in the hopes, for years.

In 2019, a real-deal developer signed on to build a multi-use project on the other side of the midtown bridge. Construction of more than 200 apartments and 10,000 square feet of retail space could start as early as May and take up to two years.

But things are already happening in midtown. In December, Diletto Bakery opened on Bradford Street also near the midtown bridge. The bakery spent years building a fanbase by plugging away at the Gainesville Farmers Market on Fridays.

While Diletto is in midtown, the business offering on South American flavors is finding itself well placed to fill the space left by Midland Coffee Co.’s exit from downtown in 2019.

And then there’s the skate park and new pond coming to the Midtown Greenway deeper into midtown. Not far from the park, Let There Be Rock School got rolling on Main Street, and has stayed rolling, in 2019.

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The Inked Pig is rolling out a new menu item — smoked sausages. The sausages are ground, stuffed and smoked at the restaurant on Main Street. - photo by Nick Bowman

Midtown has also been the new, trendy home for home decor shops and one of Gainesville’s most interesting new restaurants: The Inked Pig.

That gravel lot downtown

If you thought you read a lot about midtown in 2019, how about the fourth side of the square in downtown Gainesville?

With retired Coca Cola Co. CEO Doug Ivester buying into the project after developer Tim Knight’s plans collapsed in 2019, this could be the year work begins on something, anything, in Gainesville’s favorite parking lot at the corner of Main and Spring streets.

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A rendering of the new project planned for the fourth side of the Gainesville square. The project is being funded by Doug Ivester, who bought the property after the Parkside on the Square development fell through. Image courtesy Fred Roddy.

Ivester’s plans would bring some architectural touches from Gainesville’s Brenau University, where Ivester is a trustee and donor, to the square. His partners designing the project are aiming for ground-floor retail but fewer upper-story residences than Knight.

Look for work — or at least word — on that project in 2020.

South Hall

Flowery Branch has been building more cottages than cafes, but the South Hall community and its neighbor, Braselton, are attracting a lot of attention from Gwinnett and points deeper into metro Atlanta.

Main Street Flowery Branch is on track for a redesign, as another multi-use project is slated for downtown — and Flowery Branch is serious about it, having already demolished a good chunk of downtown to make way for it.

The Residential Group is aiming to build about 8,000 square feet of ground-floor retail with 15 apartments above on Main Street in the city. It’s also aiming for an apartment project elsewhere in Flowery Branch.

That’s not to mention the hundreds of units of apartments, townhomes and homes that have wound their way to approval at Flowery Branch, Braselton and the South Hall-ish Oakwood. These communities are likely to see more retailers coming closer to home in 2020 and beyond.

Oh, and don’t forget about Chateau Elan this year, which was sold in 2019 after the late-2018 death of founder Don Panoz and just concluded a $20 million renovation.

Georgia wineries

Georgia winemakers have banded together to put more effort, and money, behind the statewide Georgia Wine Producers group.

That might sound a little boring, but the consequences won’t be: Georgia and neighboring states are going to hear more about wineries not far from Hall County in 2020.

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Maria Rosario begins picking grapes on a row at the Habersham Winery orchard Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018 as the winery harvest grapes for wine. - photo by Scott Rogers

With a new executive director at the helm, Georgia Wine Producers is thinking up a new marketing push representing winemakers in the Peach State. 

State winemakers are set to gather in early February at Chateau Elan. The annual conference includes a Feb. 4 wine tasting that’s open to the public, so long as the public has $30.

Expect to hear more about Georgia wine in 2020.

What are we missing?

Are you looking forward to anything fun in 2020 that you don’t see on this list? Write to us at life@gainesvilletimes.com and let us know about it. Yes, we're aware of Baby Yoda.

Nick Bowman is feature editor at The Times.

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