The start of demolition at a downtown Flowery Branch site is ushering in a new era in the city’s revitalization, Mayor Mike Miller said.
On Monday, Southern Environmental Services began demolishing the 1930s-era Mooney Manufacturing plant on the corner of Main and Gainesville streets.
“With the demolition of this site, new development will be possible,” Miller said.
“We will also be undertaking a downtown master plan in the coming months that will be a culmination of actions supporting the revitalization of our downtown.”
The process is expected to take two weeks to complete and is being funded through the city’s tax allocation district, a mechanism that collects property taxes for use in the redevelopment of blighted areas and later returns the funds with associated financial gains from the improvements.
The moment was bittersweet for two sisters who grew up next to the factory their father owned, where he spent many hours overseeing furniture construction.
“This is the end of an era,” Patti Mooney said.
“Yes, we are very sad.”
The sisters, present at the morning demolition ceremony, recounted how their father would come home for dinner only to return to work at night during the tail end of the Depression.
“Daddy — he knew how to work,” Kathy Mooney said.
The women told of playing in sawdust bins at the facility and also working there as children.
“And we set knobs for a quarter,” Kathy Mooney said.
“But I didn’t last long at that.”
City planner James Riker said a 2006 comprehensive plan outlines the area for mixed use, with city officials’ plans including creation of a city government complex and park, but all that is up in the air now.
“It is important to note that circumstances (i.e. economy, population growth, city-owned properties, private development interests) have changed since the original 2006 plan,” he said.
The city plans a development analysis and reconstructed master plan that “...will help pull together the ideas discussed in previous plans as well as the transportation study conducted two years ago,” Riker said.
“The new plan will provide a realistic blueprint for revitalization of the downtown area.”