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Downtown Flowery Branch retail space still empty. Now, this company has been fired
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Flowery Branch is looking at firing the company it hired in 2020 to attract tenants to city-owned retail spaces downtown. Above, Flowery Branch farmers market manager Renee Carden visits a new Main Street development Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, in downtown Flowery Branch. - photo by Scott Rogers

Update, March 3: A company hired in 2020 to attract tenants to city-owned retail spaces downtown was fired by Flowery Branch City Council.

Oakhurst’s contract will end in 60 days, “but anyone they would have spoken to will still be their client and they will get the commission off that,” City Manager Tonya Parrish told the council.

Flowery Branch is looking at firing the company it hired in 2020 to attract tenants to city-owned retail spaces downtown.

City Council is set to vote on terminating the leasing agreement with Oakhurst Realty Partners LLC at its meeting Thursday, March 3.

“As of March 3, 2022, there are no leases on any of the ground floor commercial properties at the Main Street location, nor is there a lease on 5318 Railroad Avenue,” says an executive summary in city documents.

“We just felt it was best to present to council to terminate the leasing agreement and move in a different direction,” City Manager Tonya Parrish told The Times.

Oakhurst was hired in October 2020 to lease 1,450 square feet of space in a building at 5318 Railroad Ave. and 5,892 square feet of space in a new retail-apartment building on Main Street between Railroad Avenue and Church Street.

The contract doesn’t cite a flat amount the city would pay for Oakhurst’s services. Instead, it lists fees Oakhurst would receive, including 4% of the base rent for new leases or the expansion of a current lease.

The apartments on the second floor of the building have been leased. Meanwhile, the first-floor spaces remain empty.

Oakhurst officials couldn’t be reached for comment Monday, Feb. 28.

In an October 2021 tour by the city of the Main Street building, then-Interim City Manager Vickie Short said the city had a letter of intent for one space, but she couldn’t give further details at the time.

Renee Carden, Flowery Branch downtown events coordinator, said in a February interview that she had no updates on leases.

Scottdale-based Oakhurst had released literature about its Flowery Branch efforts, saying, “Be part of a growing, dynamic city in Hall County with Lake Lanier nearby. This is an ideal site for neighborhood restaurants, bars and retailers that offer unique products and services.”

“Our focus is to create more opportunities for experiences in downtown Flowery Branch,” said Todd Semrau of Oakhurst in October. “We’re looking for businesses and operators that bring energy and activity to downtown.”

Efforts are “going great” so far, he said.

“We have some prospects — one restaurant group that looks really great,” Semrau said. “We’re talking to a number of (other) potential candidates as well.”

Flowery Branch City Council

What: Possible termination of contract with company marketing city-owned spaces downtown

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, March 3

Where: City Hall, 5410 W. Pine St.