The first signs of growth near the new Exit 14 in South Hall have emerged.
Grading is well underway for a retail/housing project off Martin Road between Falcon Parkway/Ga. 13 and Oakwood Baptist Church off Martin Road.
“We are excited about the presence of more people close to us,” said Brian Evans, Oakwood Baptist’s senior pastor. “What we’re about is reaching people.”
Commercial development would face Martin Road across from Martin Technology Academy of Math and Science and Hall County Fire Station 5, and apartments would be on the back part of the property, Oakwood City Manager B.R. White said.
“The overall site civil plans haven’t been approved as of to date,” White said. “The erosion, sediment and pollution control plan has been approved, and we have issued a clearing and grubbing permit only.”
An application from the developer, BLT Martin Road LLC, only describes the residential portion of the $35 million development.
BLT Martin Road is looking to build 360,000 square feet of housing, or 312 apartments, on 31.5 acres, according to the application.
Company officials couldn’t be reached for comment.
The developer got Oakwood City Council’s OK in September 2019 for 15 acres of commercial development, including a drive-in restaurant, banks, medical offices and car washes. Hotels would be excluded on the site.
Final site plans would go before the City Council for final approval.
Area residents opposed a rezoning for the development.
“They should put commercial enterprises on the other side of 985 where the industries are, not belly up to two residential areas,” Gary McClung said at the time.
Martin Road is mostly residential between JM Turk Road and Winder Highway/Ga. 53.
Many area government and real estate officials believe the interchange, which fully opened on Jan. 30, is prime for development.
The interchange sits at the Flowery Branch-Oakwood border, with traffic flowing onto H.F. Reed Industrial Parkway, which leads to Martin Road east of the exit.
Some 135 acres flank H.F. Reed between Thurmon Tanner Parkway west of the exit and Falcon Parkway, most of it zoned agricultural.
Beyond the parkways lies more open plots of land, particularly along H.F. Reed as it travels west to McEver Road. Growth potential also resides on Thurmon Tanner, north and south of H.F. Reed.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how (the interchange) develops,” said The Norton Agency’s Will Cobb, who’s marketing large tracts in the area, in an earlier interview. “I think you’re going to see more business and industry on the west side (of Exit 14), and more retail on the east side, because that’s where the bulk of people live.”