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Academy Sports coming to Gainesville
Development coming to site across from Olive Garden, Cheddar's restaurants
A public storage facility on Ahaluna Drive has been emptied in preparation for coming development in the neighborhood off Dawsonville Highway.

Academy Sports + Outdoors has ended speculation about what store will anchor a new retail development at the southeast corner of Dawsonville Highway and Ahaluna Drive. 

Company officials announced Wednesday plans to open a first location in Gainesville later this year, though no specific timeline is final. Academy Sports operates seven stores in Atlanta.

“Whether active-minded families in Gainesville are spending the weekend on Lake Lanier or cheering on the Braves, we’re thrilled to offer them a fun and convenient location for all their sports, outdoors and lifestyle needs,” Ken Attaway, Academy Sports + Outdoors executive vice president and chief operating officer, said in a statement. “We look forward to becoming an active member of the Gainesville community and offering the best brands at low prices for years to come.”

The $4 billion sports, outdoor and lifestyle retailer will occupy 62,000 square feet. Plans filed with the city call for another 55,000-square-foot store, possibly a Hobby Lobby, at the site.

Additionally, two outparcels along Dawsonville Highway will likely include a restaurant and smaller retail stores, though no tenants have yet been identified, according to city planning officials.

“The city is happy to see development beginning at this site and we are glad Academy Sports will be one of the anchor tenants,” said Gainesville Community Development Director Rusty Ligon. “We believe this development will be an asset to the community.”

Workers were on site Wednesday placing silt fencing for erosion control, a first step toward future development. The city has approved plans that will allow grading to begin soon.

Planning officials said they are awaiting architectural plans, which must be reviewed and approved prior to any building construction commencing at the site.

The retail shopping center will have primary access from Dawsonville Highway across from the Olive Garden and Cheddar’s restaurants, and a traffic signal has been approved for that location. Another right-in/right-out only driveway is located across from Beechwood Boulevard.

The Dallas-based Turcotte Development Group is behind Academy Sports’ arrival in Gainesville. The developer has also acquired the Happy Pappy’s Storage location nearby to make way for an access drive to and from Ahaluna.

But that presents some problems for residents living off Ahaluna who are concerned that traffic studies have not properly accounted for how much congestion the retail development and plans for a large-scale subdivision in the area will combine to generate. 

“It looks like we can only wait and see what impact the higher traffic flow onto Ahaluna will have on the congestion at the (Dawsonville Highway) intersection,” said resident Gene Korzeniewski.

City planning officials said they will know more about the impact on the intersection when the phased retail development is complete.

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