Flowery Branch is Hall County’s fastest-growing city, expanding 2.7 percent between July 2011 and July 2012, according to recently released census statistics.
According to City Manager Bill Andrew, building permits surpassed the city’s projection of $50,000 in revenue in the first six months of the year. The city collected $62,542.30 in permit fees by April.
Jennifer Landers, marketing director of Newland Communities, which oversees one of Flowery Branch’s largest subdivisions, Sterling on the Lake, said she has seen a tremendous amount of growth recently.
“Guests looking for homes over the past 24 months have increased by 60 percent, which is a significant change,” Landers said. Home sales in Sterling on the Lake have increased by another 60 percent in the first five months of 2013.
Landers said she believes that these numbers can be attributed to the newly opened neighborhood named “The Springs” inside of Sterling on the Lake, which caters more toward “empty nesters,” or older couples whose children have moved out of the home. In the past year, Sterling on the Lake has seen a 12 percent drop in growing-family buyers and a 15 percent increase of empty-nester buyers.
“Hall County is at that point where they are definitely going to develop,” said newly appointed Flowery Branch City Planner John McHenry.
“A lot of people don’t see development as a sense of employment but it is,” said Bill Andrew, city manager, noting the population increase brings more economic value to Flowery Branch.
In neighboring Oakwood, growth noted by the census was 1.2 percent above previous numbers.
The Norton Agency’s Frank Norton Jr. said he does not believe these figures to be truly indicative of growth in the South Hall city.
“I think what you’re seeing on the census is a correction,” said Norton, explaining the upwardly revised figures are most likely due to a previous underestimation. “We’ve seen that in other ZIP codes,” in the metro Atlanta area, Norton explained.
The only caveat to residential growth, said Norton, is a spike in home purchases in the active adult community of the Villages at Deaton Creek, which is in Braselton, and those of Sterling on the Lake. He also noted growth in the Cressswind residential community in Gainesville.
Norton concurred with Landers’ statement on the demographics of those who have moved into the Flowery Branch area and with 70 percent of the “empty-nest” home purchases coming from relocations from outside of the county.
“We are a Gwinnettian market,” said Norton, explaining that home prices are 15-20 percent less just over the line from Gwinnett County in South Hall, and offer more land and lower taxes.