One of Hall County’s largest planned residential developments, Mundy Mill, is rebounding, but growth expectations won’t resemble the national trend of overextended developers before the Great Recession.
John Schwartz, sales manager for Main & Main Realty, which markets Mundy Mill, said Butler Property intends to move forward in a “controlled” manner.
“One thing about our developer and our builders is they’re very strong financially, and we’re not operating on any borrowed money,” he said.
Plans for the mixed-use, 604-acre development, when approved in 2004, called for 1,148 single-family houses, 578 town houses, 460 apartments and more than 1 million square feet of office, retail and industrial space.
Only 67 homes were built before the housing market fell apart across America, leading to what would become the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
Mundy Mill was like many other vast subdivisions that have turned into ghost towns, with developers finishing roads and other infrastructure but not much else.
Beginning in July 2009, four banks seized parcels of the development over the next year. Butler Property bought the property in 2010.
“We’re not going to get too stretched out building too many houses at a time, so we’ll build three, four or five at a time and, as we sell two or three, we’ll build two or three more,” Schwartz said, speaking after a grand re-opening of the development Tuesday. “We won’t get too far ahead to expose ourselves to any undue risks.”
Mundy Mill’s main entrance is off Mundy Mill Road and is bounded by Mountain View and Old Oakwood and Meeks Drive. The neighborhood sits in Gainesville, although it’s close to Oakwood.
Homes are priced from the $130,000s, with enhanced amenities, including wider sidewalks, a pool, playground and picnic pavilion. The entrance to the neighborhood has been dressed up as well, with landscaping and a tall water wheel.
More construction could be planned over the next few months based on continued sales.
Kit Dunlap, president and CEO of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, said she is encouraged by development at what had long been a dormant site.
“It’s tremendous,” she said. “This property is right in the hub of what’s going on in South Hall. We’re just thrilled to have a first-class developer to take it and do something with it.
“What it will lead to is some more commercial and more retail, and possibly more industrial.”
Mundy Mill still has a commercial component, with possible shopping center sites on both sides of Mundy Mill Road.
The four-lane road serves as a major artery, with most of its retail and business development beginning near Gainesville State College and stretching past Interstate 985 to near Union Church Road.
“It’s a little early for (marketing) the retail development. As we build homes here, it’s going to make all that commercial more attractive,” Schwartz said.
The development also features a site for a Gainesville city school.
“We expect it will be our next building site,” said Delores M. Diaz, a Gainesville City Board of Education member who attended Tuesday’s grand opening. “... The population is moving this way and there’s a real need for it.”