0805FLOWERYaudFlowery Branch Mayor Diane Hirling comments on the future of growth spurt in the South Hall town.
FLOWERY BRANCH — It’s no major boom, but developments are popping up around Flowery Branch, signs that the recession hasn’t completely silenced hammers and drills.
Work is nearly finished on a new Waffle House restaurant, and Walgreens pharmacy and a Wachovia bank branch are expected to open soon at locations across town, with construction bustling at all locations.
A century-old, two-story home off Atlanta Highway at East Main Street has been renovated and turned into a business, Staff Right, a temporary staffing agency.
SunTrust plans to start building a branch on Hog Mountain Road, next to where Wachovia is nearly finished, in August, with a planned opening in March, said Scott B. Maness, vice president of Woolard-Attman Construction in Marietta.
SunTrust decided to place a branch in the city for couple of reasons.
“Flowery Branch is booming,” Maness said, “and to serve the customers. I don’t think there’s (a branch) very close by there.”
Perhaps surprisingly, two of the city’s developments are banks, an industry that has been hit especially hard in the recession.
Maness said he believes SunTrust is faring better than other banks in the downturn.
“They’re not having too many problems,” he said. “... They’re just doing this to be in competition with, obviously, Wachovia and the community banks.”
Across the road from Wachovia and SunTrust is Habersham Bank, a three-story French provincial building that faces Spout Springs Road and was annexed recently into the city.
Between Habersham Bank and the new banks is the Walgreens, which is being built on a hill supported by tall retaining walls. It sits across from Rite Aid pharmacy.
On the other side of town, off McEver Road and south of Gainesville Street/Jim Crow Road, work is wrapping up on a Waffle House.
The restaurant is set for a mid-September opening, said Kelly Thrasher, spokeswoman for the Norcross-based chain.
“As it gets closer (to being finished), we’ll have a specific date,” she said.
Before the recession, Flowery Branch seemed on the verge of a growth explosion.
Stonebridge Village, a shopping center with several anchors, opened on Spout Springs Road near Interstate 985, across from a shopping center anchored by Publix grocery story. A five-story Hampton Inn, which had been in the works for a while, opened in December.
City Manager Bill Andrew has said he used to receive almost daily inquiries from potential developers about property around the city.
Old Town Flowery Branch, a $15 million multiuse development, also has been planned for downtown. The economy slowed progress, with the first phase of the project now slated to start in mid-2010, said Kellin Dobbs of Hortman & Dobbs Developers.
Diane Hirling, Flowery Branch’s mayor, said she is happy to see all the growth and knows that conditions could be far worse for the city, but she also believes the ongoing projects took root before the recession.
“I thought both (new) banks were going to be on hold indefinitely,” she said. “It surprised me when they both decided to go forward. They’re obviously thinking this is the right place to put a branch at this time.”
She particularly is looking forward to Old Town’s development, which calls for an array of shops, boutiques, cafes, town homes and parking garage.
“That’s going to change the downtown completely,” Hirling said. “I’m very pleased with all the businesses on the other side of the interstate, but I think we need downtown to be revitalized completely, and it’s not going to happen until Old Town starts its construction.”