1201HAMPaudShelley McMahon, general manager for the new Hampton Inn & Suites, talks about the Flowery Branch location.
FLOWERY BRANCH — Flowery Branch has a skyline forming with the planned opening this month of its first modern-era hotel, Hampton Inn & Suites.
The five-story, 84-room hotel on Holland Dam Road, overlooking Spout Springs Road and Interstate 985, is set to hold its grand opening Dec. 18, said owner Yogesh Patel.
Work began on the project in mid-2007.
"We were looking around in the area, looking for sites, and we thought this was a high-growth area with the new shopping centers and everything going on," Patel said.
The area around Hampton Inn has blossomed in just the past few years.
The Publix-anchored shopping center on Spout Springs Road kicked off the growth, followed by the multi-anchor Stonebridge Village Shopping Center across the street.
A new three-story Habersham Bank has opened on Spout Springs just outside the city limits, and grading has just started at the corner of Spout Springs and Hog Mountain roads for a new Walgreens pharmacy.
"This is an awesome location," said Shelley McMahon, Hampton Inn’s general manager. "... We’re very excited to be part of the community."
McMahon, a Grayson resident who has served for three-plus years as general manager of a Hampton Inn in Stone Mountain, said the hotel is working with different groups, including the Lake Lanier Convention & Visitors Bureau, to stir up interest.
"It’s a great exit (off I-985)," she said. "I think it’s going to do really well."
The hotel, which sits on two acres, offers indoor and outdoor dining areas, an indoor pool, exercise room, laundry room, board room and a meeting room that could accommodate 50 to 60 people, Patel said.
It also features a facade of brick and stone that matches the architecture of Stonebridge. Walgreens also is supposed to maintain that look.
Patel, who lives in Suwanee, said he expects the hotel will draw customers stemming from the "leisure traffic from the Mall of Georgia area (in Buford), the different companies around here and the Atlanta Falcons."
The hotel is "centrally located between Gainesville and Buford, and there’s a lot of activity on both ends," he added.
Patel said he would like to see more fast-food restaurants spring up in the immediate area.
The only such establishment, Chick-fi-A, "is getting bombarded," he said. "I’m sure Wendy’s and all that is coming, but I don’t know what spot or where — maybe on the other side (of the interstate)."
Wide open lots fill the western side of the Flowery Branch interchange at I-985, while land is quickly getting filled on the eastern side.
Flowery Branch City Council voted recently to approve annexations and rezonings that would permit commercial development next to the Hampton Inn — there’s been talk of another hotel — and an office development off nearby Old Orr Road.
The city is planning some road improvements in the area to better accommodate vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
The work would involve widening Holland Dam Road at Spout Springs to allow for easier turns in and out of the road and extending a sidewalk now running along Holland Dam between Falcon Fitness and Publix grocery store to Spout Springs Road.
The project also involves making some sidewalk and curb changes on Spout Springs to give more space to motorists making a U-turn on Spout Springs at the traffic light at Stonebridge.
One long-time resident who appreciates the growth is Henry Skipper, a former mayor and city councilman.
A resident for about 70 years, he said he recalls the city having only one other hotel, which sat near the railroad tracks in the historic downtown. The hotel dates to 1915 and later became an apartment building.
"That was when Flowery Branch was the cotton center of Hall County," Skipper said.
The people bringing the cotton would spend the night there. The hotel "had a basement where they’d put the cattle and horses ... for the night," he added.