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Flowery Branch approves mixed-use downtown development
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A rendering of the Flowery Branch mixed-use project is on display during the Residential Group's open house at the City of Flowery Branch building concerning plans for downtown redevelopment on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018.

An ambitious housing-retail project that involves downtown and a highly traveled part of the city got approvals Thursday from Flowery Branch.

First, the Historic Preservation Commission gave its OK to the downtown part of Crest at Flowery Branch, as that part of the project would lie in the downtown historic district. The vote was pending Flowery Branch City Council’s approval, which came later.

The council OK'd design plans for Atlanta-based The Residential Group’s planned residential-retail project on Main Street.

The new building, between the Historic Train Depot on Railroad Avenue and Church Street, is expected to feature a dozen or so apartments and 7,700 square feet of ground-level retail.

Also getting design approval was a 324-unit apartment complex on Phil Niekro Boulevard near Interstate 985. That site is expected to also feature several retail outparcels, possibly restaurants.

Flowery Branch has a stake in the project. Last year, the city approved $5 million in tax allocation district money to offset demolition and construction costs. Demolition of downtown buildings took place this summer to make way for the project.

Under Georgia law, cities are allowed to designate certain “blighted” areas as TADs, using cumulative property tax increments resulting from new growth for public projects to help attract growth and increase the increments.

“This is the biggest thing the city has ever done, and we need to get it right,” City Manager Bill Andrew told the council during discussion of the downtown building.

“This is the one shot we have,” Councilman Joe Anglin said. “We do want to get it right.”

“It’s not the end (of downtown redevelopment),” said Kurt Alexander, principal with The Residential Group. “It’s the first step.”