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Oakwood eyeing downtown town center
Planning board recommends rezoning 9 acres for site
0620OAKWOOD
Oakwood officials are looking to make way for a downtown “town center” for commercial development.

Oakwood is hoping to develop city-owned property near downtown as a “town center.”

The South Hall city doesn’t have prospects yet for the 9 acres off Main Street and between Railroad Street and McClure Drive.

But it took a significant step Monday night, getting the Oakwood Planning Commission’s
recommendation to rezone the site from agricultural to planned commercial development. The measure now goes to the Oakwood City Council for a final OK.

The 9 acres will pair up with other city-owned property that was rezoned to planned commercial development in 2013, City Manager Stan Brown said.

The city is just now pursuing rezoning the 9 acres because the land “was being purchased by a soccer league for soccer fields,” Brown said. “The city has since taken the property back due to a default by the soccer league.”

Ultimately, the city, as part of its long-range Oakwood 2030 plans, hopes to redevelop land between Flat Creek Road and Railroad Street for commercial purposes, as well as preserve an area for a park and trails.

The property is largely vacant now.

“We are not actively marketing the property,” Brown told the planning board. “When people come in looking for land, I’m going to say that (the city has) property too. It’s my job to make sure people know what property we have.”

Brown said that the city, “based on the direction from (City Council), once we get through this process,” plans on putting out a request for proposals to “see if there is some interest out there … and what that interest is.”

Plans for the commercial center trace to Oakwood 2030, which was first rolled out by city
officials in October 2008.

The entire area bounded by Oakwood 2030 is 250 acres and included a commuter rail station that would sit along the railroad tracks that run through the heart of town.

Officials never expected a rapid take-off of the plans, but any development was derailed by the 2007-09 Great Recession and lingering effects of the downturn.

The economy is on an upswing now, with development taking place across the town. The city is even planning to hire a planning and economic development director — a position it ditched during the recession’s throes.

“Hopefully, this rezoning will help the city to position its property for a public/private partnership to move forward with our vision to create (the) town center,” Brown said.

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