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Exit 14 project expected to spur Flowery Branch development
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John McHenry, Flowery Branch community development director, points out there is an abundance of property zoned for retail/commercial in the South Hall city. He anticipates the planned Exit 14 interchange on Interstate 985 will spur growth. - photo by LeAnne Akin

Development in Flowery Branch is expected to be spurred by Exit 14, and with construction projected to begin in 2017, community development director John McHenry said he anticipates property nearest to the interchange will be retail and commercial.

The interchange project, which could go to construction in 2017, calls for construction of a four-lane road with 4-foot bike lanes on each side, 12-foot shoulders and a 5-foot sidewalk.

The city has also been waiting for some transportation improvements like the widening of Spout Springs Road.

The vision for Flowery Branch’s future is spelled out in its comprehensive plan: “Flowery Branch will preserve its small town feel which is generated by Old Town with its historic districts” while acknowledging development is necessary for a balanced tax base. As the I-985 corridor develops, we envision a healthy retail and mixed-use activity center evolving that will be distinguishable from other places. We will not be ‘swallowed whole’ into the metropolitan Atlanta area, but rather, carefully assimilated into the metro area while retaining distinctiveness and charm.”

Flowery Branch is poised for all types of development including industrial. Significant acreage, including the highway business districts, is zoned for retail/commercial.

There are also large tracts ideal for “power center” development on Phil Niekro Boulevard and Thurmon Tanner Parkway.
Flowery Branch’s residential appeal means there are a growing number of rooftops. Sterling on the Lake is one of the feathers in the city’s subdivision cap.

“With more homes comes more opportunity for retail,” McHenry said.

With development pressures from Gwinnett, Braselton and Oakwood, Flowery Branch finds its focus on addressing traffic flow and stormwater issues downtown and getting community input on the comprehensive plan update to reflect changing times and sentiments after lingering impacts of the recent economic downturn.

But the rebound is on with activity in and around Stonebridge Shopping Center on Spout Springs Road. It is a busy commercial center, and other existing retail centers are seeing new businesses or relocations. But Flowery Branch has not recently seen a new stand-alone retail center.

What is on the retail wish list for the Flowery Branch area? McHenry said he hears requests for Trader Joe’s, Sprouts and Whole Foods, all niche grocery stores.

A movie theater would also be welcome, but support of existing local business is a priority.

“We have great independent retail in downtown,” said McHenry, including a great restaurant in Antebellum, a candy store, coffee shop, wellness center and more. The future should mean an expanded retail presence in downtown.

The timetable for a new municipal building isn’t set, but it is hoped construction could begin this fall with an eight-month window for completion.

Freeing up the Main Street properties now occupied by the city would double the available retail space.

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