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Flowery Branch, developers work on $15 million deal for shops, condos, townhomes
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Hear Kellin Dobbs discuss his company’s new development planned for downtown Flowery Branch.

Flowery Branch officials met Wednesday with members of the Flowery Branch Historic Preservation Commission to get the ball rolling on a $15 million mixed-use development planned for downtown.

City Council members Craig Lutz, Pat Zalewski and Mary Jones, who doubles as chairwoman of the historic preservation commission, sat down in the city’s new planning office with Marty Hortman and Kellin Dobbs of Hortman and Dobbs Developers LLC to discuss the aesthetics of the project.

The more than 2.5-acre mixed-use development, which Dobbs said he hopes to begin constructing by October, will feature 21 condominiums, 14 lofts, seven townhomes, possibly two restaurants with outdoor seating, a pub and a grocery store. Plans also call for a five-story parking deck, a half-acre public park and several retail stores and office spaces.

Hortman said the project could be finished by fall 2009.

"This will be a first-class project," Dobbs said. "And we plan to use this as something that will have a halo effect to spur redevelopment in the area. We’re not going to build this and then move on to Decatur. This is something we want to be proud of."

Dobbs and Hortman are Flowery Branch residents.

The developers revealed a newly designed parking deck to city officials and the historic preservation commission Wednesday. Hortman said he intends for the parking deck to resemble an old brick mill building that has been converted for modern use.

Jones and Lutz said they were pleased with the design of the parking deck and the overall project.

"This is step one of the approval process that will need several (City) Council approvals," said James Riker, Flowery Branch planning and zoning director.

During the past few months, members of the historic preservation commission have worked closely with Hortman and Dobbs Developers to present a project design to the City Council that fits seamlessly into the existing historic downtown.

"We’re trying to make a new development look like the rest of the town — and that’s what they’ve done," Jones said. "It’s such a tremendous asset to this city. I can’t imagine anyone being opposed. It’s such a great improvement from what we started with."

The development is planned for three blocks, including the dilapidated former site of the Country Craft furniture building, which dated back to the 19th century. The development is slated for the blocks adjacent to Main Street along Pine, Chestnut and Church streets and Railroad Avenue.

A public hearing on the development will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday in City Council chambers.

At 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, the historic preservation commission will vote on approving the project. If the commission approves current project designs Wednesday, the City Council will review the project for approval at a later date, Riker said.

Zoning hearings for the development could take place in June and July.

Riker said the City Council will have the task of considering the conceptual plans for approval, while the city staff oversees the site-specific plans and permitting process.