As Flowery Branch residents prepare for the holiday season ahead, the staff at the new Kohl’s in the Stonebridge Village Shopping Center is busy stocking shelves and putting finishing touches on the department store for its grand opening on Nov. 14.
The 81,000-square-foot Kohl’s is just one of 10 stores slated to open in the coming months at the shopping center on Spout Springs Road.
Another anchor store, The Home Depot, is scheduled to open on Nov. 29. Target is the third anchor for the new shopping center, and will likely open its doors to the public in March, according to Flowery Branch Planning Director James Riker.
Halvorsen Development Corp. Vice President Tom Vincent said that in addition to the anchor stores, the Stonebridge Village Development will house retailers T.J. Maxx, PetSmart and OfficeMax. It will also feature Wachovia bank, Chick-fil-A and Chili’s Grill and Bar.
The majority of the new stores aim to open by spring, Flowery Branch Development Authority member Doward Douwsma said.
"We’re going to be able to go to stores that we go to now either in Gainesville or down at the mall, but we’ll be able to go to those stores right at home," Douwsma said.
But with a new shopping center comes new traffic. And local authorities are taking steps to prepare for the anticipated onslaught of vehicles.
Riker said the two new traffic lights at the two entrances to the shopping center on Spout Springs Road and Hog Mountain Road must be operating at some level before the stores can open.
He said the poles and lights are already set up, and that the traffic lights will be connected to power this week.
Flowery Branch City Manager Bill Andrew said the traffic lights should be flashing by about Nov. 7 to alert the public to new traffic patterns that will result from the shopping center opening.
Douwsma said that the gradual opening of stores in Stonebridge Village should help to alleviate any major traffic congestion from occurring all at once.
"It allows us to get used to the new traffic patterns one store at a time ... If you open them little bit by little bit, people get used to it, traffic lights get timed and it works much better," he said.
"People need to expect the same kind of things that we had when Publix opened — it’s hard to get in, it’s hard to get out," Douwsma said. "But now there’s nothing to it."
The two entrances to Stonebridge Village will ease traffic congestion problems immensely, he added.
With the 150 jobs created by the new Kohl’s store and the potential for more stores in the shopping center, Douwsma said that he thinks Stonebridge Village will positively affect the local economy and encourage more retail and commercial development in the Flowery Branch area, as well as non-retail development, such as offices.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at the new Kohl’s on the morning of Nov. 14, and Atlanta Falcon football players are scheduled to attend, Kohl’s spokeswoman Courtney Rogaczewski said.
The clothier will feature grand opening sales and two new exclusive brand products by Simply Vera Vera Wang and Food Network.