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UNG powers growth in Oakwood
Eric Johansen, speaking for Suwanee-based GAH Holding LLC, talks to the Oakwood Planning Commission on Tuesday, Jan. 22, about a proposed 488-bedroom student housing complex at the University of North Georgia in Oakwood. - photo by Jeff Gill

Oakwood is growing, and much of it is because of the thriving University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus.

The biggest development on the way is a private company’s plans for a 488-bedroom complex — or 122 four-bedroom “pods” spread over four five-story buildings.

The project was approved in February by the Oakwood City Council.

“This is similar to dorm-style living that you would have on traditional college campuses but in the form of privatized student housing,” Eric Johansen, spokesman for the project, told the council.

“We believe this provides another student housing option. It could be a great centerpiece for the rest of the growth ... in this area.”

Suwanee-based GAH Holding LLC’s project calls for each of the four-unit pods to have a living room, kitchenette, bathrooms in each individually locked bedroom and a laundry area. Each building could feature study areas, coffee bars, gyms and plazas.

“We’ve even talked about possibly a rooftop plaza on one or two of the buildings to take advantage of the grounds that we’re proposing and also overlooking the city and the views back over (Interstate) 985 and the surrounding area,” Johansen told the Oakwood Planning Commission in January.

Complex amenities include a swimming pool, green spaces for outdoors games and connection to Hall County’s walking trail that runs alongside Ga. 13 to Chicopee Village.

“It’s very important to have this feel like resort-style living for these kids,” Johansen has said. “Yes, we want them to go to college, but we also want them to have fun while they’re on the site.”

Rents could run from $700 to $750 monthly per bedroom.

Construction is underway on University Commons, a complex comprising 18 rental cottages at 2988 Frontage Road, near the Thurmon Tanner Parkway entrance to UNG and near the Hayes Chrysler dealership off Frontage.

The three-bedroom cottages are within walking distance of the campus. They will feature rents of $1,650-$1,800 per month, or potentially up to $600 per roommate, development officials have said.

Bill Stark of Bill Stark Properties has said he hopes to have the complex open by August 2019, in time for the fall semester.

A 348-unit apartment complex off Mundy Mill Road got the Oakwood City Council’s approval last year.

“This property is designed specifically to take advantage of the growth of the University of North Georgia (campus in Oakwood),” said Kurt Alexander, principal with The Residential Group.

The units would vary between one and three bedrooms and be spread out among nine buildings. Also, the complex would feature a swimming pool, an amenity area and a small commercial area facing Mundy Mill Road.

Alexander said after the vote that if all goes well with the project, construction could begin in the summer of 2019, with the first apartments opening in the fall of 2020. The entire complex could be finished by the spring of 2021.

Other residential building is underway in Oakwood, including an active-adult community off McEver Road between Old Flowery Branch Road and Crawford Oaks Drive.

Also under construction is a townhome development between Allen Street near Oakwood Elementary School and Thurmon 

Tanner Parkway.

And then, in January 2019, a 195-home development off McEver, Oakwood and Flat Creek roads was approved, following previous failed attempts by the developer, MB Endeavors, to get government OK for residential development on the property.

The approved plan calls for 101 townhomes and 94 detached single-family homes spread over nearly 29 acres. A map shows entrances to the subdivision off McEver and Oakwood roads.

Oakwood Road runs between McEver and Flat Creek Road. McEver Road is a main West Hall artery running between Buford and Gainesville.

The development also features a swimming pool and green space area. A 1.16-acre tract at the corner of McEver and Flat Creek roads would be reserved for commercial uses.