Finding a sidewalk to walk on or a street to drive on is a bit challenging these days in downtown Flowery Branch.
Workers are spread out at public improvement projects across downtown, tearing into and pouring new concrete and asphalt between Mitchell Street and Railroad Avenue and between Knight Drive and West Pine Street.
But Renee Carden, the city’s downtown events coordinator, is staying upbeat.
“It’s going to get real messy over the next two weeks,” but “we are in the home stretch,” she said earlier this week.
“We have this asphalt (crews) starting to work on areas … and you’ll see our intersections are almost finished with crosswalks and (embedded) flower designs.”
The work is part of an overall downtown makeover that’s been in the works for years.
The city is looking to add much-needed parking, especially with the city’s popular festivals and farmer’s market, and wider sidewalks to allow for outside dining.
The work will create a system of one-way streets, such as allowing motorists to only travel on Railroad Avenue from Lights Ferry Road to Main Street.
Also, in a unique touch, the city is converting Church Street between Main and West Pine streets into a “woonerf,” or a “living street” that mixes both pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
The woonerf, a common sight in the Netherlands, will look much different than Flowery Branch’s other asphalt-only streets. It will feature interlocking pavers and Flowery Branch’s blossom logo embedded in concrete among the brickwork. String lights already criss-cross the street above people and cars.
The “flower” designs will be in place at Church and Main and at Church and West Pine, Carden said.
She said she hopes the entire project will be finished by May 1.
When it is done, “I”m going to have a big party and everybody is invited,” Carden said with a laugh.
Janet Upchurch, longtime owner of Sample Pleasures Art, Antiques and Gifts at the corner of Main and Railroad, has watched the project from start to finish.
"We will all be thankful when it is done and downtown thrives again,” she said.
Downtown business is starting to gain steam.
The Social Peach Boutique, a women’s clothing store, has opened in one of downtown’s newest additions, a retail-apartment building on Main between Railroad and Church.
The city has leased two of four spaces to restaurants, 4 Elephants Catering and El Sabor Costeno Taqueria.
A fourth space is yet to be leased, but Carden has prospects.
“I’m hoping we may have an announcement soon,” she said.
For now, she’s looking past the piles of dirt and torn-up streets, imagining what the finished product will look like.
“The whole downtown area is just going to be connected and walkable, and so much more room and things happening,” Carden said.