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What Oakwood might do with old Georgia Poultry Lab site
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Oakwood is looking to acquire the old Georgia Poultry Lab, which left for North Hall in 2014, to use for public works and possibly as a community center at some point. - photo by Jeff Gill

Now largely hidden by tall trees behind a barbed wire fence, the old Georgia Poultry Laboratory in Oakwood may come back to life someday, perhaps as a community center.

The city has decided to pursue acquiring the building off Oakwood Road from the State Properties Commission, City Manager Stan Brown said.

The red brick, one-story building between Mundy Mill Drive and Thurmon Tanner Parkway served as the state lab network’s main office from the early 1960s until 2014, when the lab moved to North Hall, off Ga. 365 and just north of White Sulphur Road.

“The plan is to use the property for public works initially and community center and (other) uses in the future,” Brown said Tuesday, Sept. 4.

Public works could move there in 2019 from its current home on W White Road.

The reason for interest in the move is the city department is “currently located on property we are marketing to sell as industrial,” Brown said.

As for whether the old lab would remain or new construction would take place, “that would be determined once we acquire (the property) and do a full assessment,” he said.

A schedule and budget would be developed at that time, Brown added.

Original plans called for the new lab to be built behind the Oakwood site, with officials saying early on they believed the new lab would be open by 2012. That project included tearing down the old lab.

“And then Gov. (Nathan) Deal gave us the option of looking at other locations,” said Abit Massey, president emeritus of the Gainesville-based Georgia Poultry Federation, in a 2014 interview.

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Scientists gather Thursday, March 8, 2018, at the Georgia Poultry Lab. The poultry industry pumps $18.4 billion annually into Georgia’s economy and supports 124,000 direct and indirect jobs, according to the Gainesville-based Georgia Poultry Federation. - photo by Scott Rogers

State officials decided against the Oakwood site, partly because “the nature of the surrounding area has turned residential and is not appropriate for the construction of a new poultry lab,” State Properties Commission spokesman Paul Melvin had said.

In August 2012, the State Properties Commission, led by Deal, voted to buy 10 acres in what would be the Gateway Industrial Centre off Ga. 365 for the current 38,000-square-foot building.

The lab provides a range of services for the poultry industry, including disease monitoring and testing, chick quality assurance and hatchery inspections.