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Why this old railroad loading dock was removed in Flowery Branch and what could replace it
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A piece of Flowery Branch's railroad past is gone as the city has removed an old loading dock to make room for more downtown parking.

The South Hall city got Norfolk Southern’s permission to remove the longtime fixture off Railroad Street near Main Street and across from the Historic Depot, City Manager Bill Andrew said.

The structure “was left over from when we had lumber being offloaded from trains for the furniture companies here,” he said.

The railroad has a long history in Flowery Branch, with long freight trains continuing to course regularly through downtown.

The dock was in railroad right of way, “but it is in the area we lease from Norfolk Southern and this lease allows for parking,” City Manager Bill Andrew said.

“We are planning to have either landscaping or hardscaped angled parking in the area where the loading dock used to be located,” he said. “We are still working on those plans.”

The city hopes to have the parking area built, along with a farmer’s market pavilion and a park off Pine Street across from City Hall, by the end of 2020, Andrew said.

Flowery Branch is paying for the downtown improvements as part of $5.4 million in bonds issued by the Gainesville and Hall County Development Authority, which approved the adoption of the bonds Jan. 28.

The city will use tax allocation district funding to repay the debt.

When a property is developed, its property taxes will go up, but property owners and developers approved to participate in a tax allocation district can use increments of those increased tax payments toward improving the property.

The TAD funding was approved by the City Council in November 2018 in an application between the city and Atlanta-based The Residential Group, which is building 15 apartments and 7,700 square feet of ground level retail on Main Street.

That project could wrap up by Oct. 31, Andrew said.

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