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Stalled Flowery Branch subdivision to rise from the weeds
Builder aims to begin fall construction on 137 homes halted by recession
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An Arizona-based developer got the green light Thursday to get bulldozers moving again on a 53-acre Flowery Branch subdivision that had been killed by the Great Recession.

Flowery Branch City Council gave its OK to a rezoning ordinance that allows Meritage Homes to revive Park Walk, a subdivision approved for up to 134 lots by the South Hall city in 2005.

Construction could begin in the fall on the subdivision off Jim Crow Road between Lakeside Water Treatment Plant and Stephens Road.

High Pointe Capital was the original developer but never got the project beyond putting in basic infrastructure such as roads and streetlights. In what has been a common sight nationally after the 2007-09 economic meltdown, brush and weeds have taken over grassy areas and locked gates mark the entrance.

Meritage plans to build 137 homes in the subdivision, with prices in the mid-$200,000 range and featuring amenities such as a swimming pool and cabana.

In addition, company officials say they plan to build “healthy” homes.

Stephen Haines, Atlanta division president for Meritage, has said, “We have cleaner air, lower energy and water usage, and lower toxic fumes. Overall, we have a healthier home that uses less energy and less water than anybody in the market.”

“We’re excited to be here,” Meritage representative Paul Michael told the council. “We’re excited to do business in Flowery Branch.

The property was originally rezoned to planned unit development — a designation that won’t change. However, conditions of that rezoning and High Pointe’s plans for the property were unique to that action.

“We’re not looking to make any wholesale changes to what’s already in place,” Michael said. “It’s just to remove certain conditions that the market has deemed onerous. Otherwise, it would have been developed prior to this time.”

John McHenry, Flowery Branch’s community development director, said other developers have looked at the property over the past few years.

“From a development standpoint, we obviously want to see this (property) developed,” he said. “We want to see single-family (housing), landscaping and good connections, but we respect that (Meritage) is the developer and they have an understanding of what the market is interested in.”

One of the draws for Meritage to the property is that Hall County “is one of the larger employment bases in the greater Atlanta metro area,” Haines has said.

“It’s a little bit unsung,” he added.

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