With growth of the University of North Georgia and a number of employers in the general area, Oakwood has a large base of people during the day, and they are shopping and spending money on meals and more.
Oakwood City Manager Stan Brown calls that good for the business climate.
With the renovations to Burger King and McDonald’s, as well as the relocation of Wendy’s, Oakwood is experiencing re-investment as well as new money coming in.
For example, plans for the new, free-standing Starbucks in Oakwood’s Merchants Crossing Shopping Center are under review at city hall and a free-standing Dollar Tree is planned in the Royal Lakes Marketplace as increased interest is being shown for other tracts of land zoned for new retail and commercial development.
Brown says the 7 acres in front of the new Milton Martin car dealership is prime acreage for retail or a restaurant.
While not in the city limits, the retail portion of the Mundy Mill development will likely have a positive impact on Oakwood. New residents will add to the demand for more retail, and plans for multi-family development will mean a higher population.
“That will certainly benefit the community with added opportunities for shopping and dining, and increase traffic into Oakwood,” said Brown, who expects the development will mean the city will see increases in the services provided by the police department and public works.
Oakwood’s investment in 30 acres in the heart of the city is awaiting a private partner to develop a mixed-use destination for a community that is “pro quality business,” said Brown.
City leaders also support the Vision 2030’s Highlands to Islands trail and the connectivity it would bring from Oakwood through the University of North Georgia and eventually all the way to midtown Gainesville.
Brown and others have identified night-time attractions such as a movie theater or entertainment center as a retail need just waiting to be met.
“And we have an abundance of fast-food offerings and some good local breakfast places but we lack good sit-down restaurant offerings,” said Brown, who notes that growth will come at the right time.
With the new Exit 14 on Interstate 985 finally coming to tie the area’s transportation network together, Brown said subsequent development will be good for all of Hall County.
“We’re excited about Exit 14, which has been a long time in coming,” said Brown. “The mayor and council has been supportive of it since the 1980s. It’s the last piece of the puzzle. While it will certainly benefit Flowery Branch, the good quality development likely to come is good for all of us.”