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Update on new INK building among 4 takeaways from Oakwood growth session
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Oakwood City Manager B.R. White gives growth and development updates to the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce's South Hall Business Coalition on Thursday, March 31. - photo by Jeff Gill

Oakwood growth and development updates were presented Thursday, March 31, to area business and government leaders.

Here are a few takeaways from the city’s session with the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s South Hall Business Coalition.

Work on new INK building still could start in August

All is still on track for an August groundbreaking on the new Interactive Neighborhood for Kids, which will serve as the centerpiece for Oakwood’s revitalized downtown.

The $4.3 million building for the interactive children’s museum will be at the corner of Main Street and McClure Drive.

The new INK building would be 50,000 square feet, almost twice as big as its current location off Chestnut Street in Gainesville, INK executive director Mandy Volpe has said.

Construction could take 12-18 months to complete, Oakwood City Manager B.R. White.

Sewer availability may be issue in coming years

A wide gap exists between Oakwood’s current sewer capacity and what it needs to serve future needs, White said.

The city, which doesn’t have its own system but rather obtains sewer from Gainesville, Flowery Branch and Braselton, has a current capacity of about 1.1 million gallons per day. Oakwood has about 415,000 gallons remaining before it hits that capacity, White said.

However, Oakwood estimates it needs a total 2.8 million gallons in capacity to fulfill future growth needs.

“We’re going to have a shortfall in the long-term,” White said.

Apartments are the big housing trend

Like other communities, Oakwood is seeing “a large push for apartments,” White said.

“We started out in 2017 with roughly a thousand apartments,” he said. “We have on the books approved almost 2,000 more units to be built over the next couple of years.”

The total number of residential units projected to be built in the next couple of years is 3,500, he said.

That likely means the city’s population will continue to grow.

White presented U.S. Census numbers that show the city’s climbing to nearly 5,000 in 2020 from about 4,000 in 2010.

Planned downtown buildings already drawing interest

Two buildings that could house commercial tenants as part of Oakwood’s revamped downtown are already drawing huge interest.

“People are already contacting us about (the buildings), and we’re not even to the point where we’re ready to discuss it yet,” White said. “If we were going to get letters of commitment from them, we could fill one of the buildings now.”

He didn’t specify potential future tenants, but he said the city is drawing interest from everything from restaurants to a supplier of grass-fed beef.

“I would love long-term to be able to take the post office and put them in a space on the INK side of Main Street,” White said.

Getting in and out of the post office, now located off Main at Flat Creek Road/Old Oakwood Road, “is a nightmare.”