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Old Best Buy mart slow in developing at busy Flowery Branch corner
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Construction continues on the former Best Buy convenience store in Flowery Branch at the corner of Phil Niekro Boulevard and Atlanta Highway. The project was supposed to be complete last year, but more work needed to be done — according to the city — and the project isn’t finished yet. - photo by Scott Rogers

At one time a busy shopping spot in Flowery Branch, the old Best Buy site has become a renovation project with no apparent completion in sight.

“I as much as anybody want to see that site developed and operating because I see that (area) as a gateway to Flowery Branch,” Mayor Mike Miller said Thursday. “You never want to see an eyesore on that spot.”

Despite several phone calls and emails, officials associated with the project off Phil Niekro Boulevard and Atlanta Highway/Ga. 13 couldn’t be reached for comment.

And that’s been an issue for city officials, too.

Communication “goes in spurts,” Miller said. “They’ll contact us and there’s a little buzz and it moves along a little bit, and then it goes cold again.”

“I as much as anybody want to see that site developed and operating because I see that (area) as a gateway to Flowery Branch. You never want to see an eyesore on that spot.”
Flowery Branch Mayor Mike Miller

Best Buy’s progress has come up as a topic at recent City Council meetings, with planning director Rich Atkinson giving what answers he has.

One of the issues has been debris on the property.

“Texaco has cleaned the site and has been working on a slightly modified plan from the one approved by the city in March,” Atkinson said.

“They are now getting other required approvals — at least that is my understanding.”

In one form or another, Best Buy has a lengthy history at the busy corner, which sits just outside of downtown Flowery Branch and a mile or so from Interstate 985.

For decades, Best Buy Quality Foods was one of the area’s few grocery stores. It continued to operate even as growth sprang up in South Hall and major grocery chains came to the area.

But then a July 2007 fire caused about $500,000 in damage to the store. After a major renovation, the store reopened in February 2009, retaining much of the old look, as well as the name.

The new store later closed, and the property was basically abandoned.

Last year, heavy renovation got underway on a store officials said would be a 4,000-square-foot convenience store, set to open in late April or early May 2016.

The plan called for Best Buy Food Mart to have gas pumps out front and a completely rebuilt front entrance. The new store also would have a kitchen serving breakfast and items such as pizza and hot dogs, the officials said.

Basically, the old building was gutted and rebuilt.

John McHenry, former Flowery Branch planning director, was pleased to see the progress.
“It is one of the premier entrances to the downtown,” he said in March 2016.

In a recent email, Atkinson said the site had some entrance/exit issues “that needed to be addressed.”

“The pump location and canopy needed to be relocated,” he said. “The developer revamped the plan and it is currently in review.”

Atkinson is optimistic about a positive outcome.

“They seem committed to move forward and develop the site in a manner that will meet code and provide a safe and successful business on a prime corner in Flowery Branch,” he said.

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Construction continues on the former Best Buy convenience store in Flowery Branch at the corner of Phil Niekro Boulevard and Atlanta Highway. - photo by Scott Rogers
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