With the work visible to Interstate 985 motorists, a multiyear, multiphase development has gotten off the ground at Candler Road in the old Central Park.
The first phase involves construction of a couple of buildings, with further work — possibly featuring two, seven-story office buildings — to take place as the economy rebounds and allows.
Clearing and grading has started on the 23 acres owned by ProCare Rx and its affiliate, PRX Holdings LLC.
ProCare is a health care company based in Duluth, with future plans to include moving senior executive offices to the Hall County site, said Steven Drucker, general counsel for ProCare.
"The applicants’ intent is to develop a corporate campus consisting of a mixed-use of mid- to high-rise office buildings, industrial office warehousing and commercial-retail ... not to exceed 390,000 square feet," according to a city documents concerning the project.
The project’s third phase shows a "hotel and some retail space that would front on Candler (Road)," said Rusty Ligon, Gainesville’s community development director
Drucker said of the project, "Some of the full build-out depends on economic conditions and, in all candor, potential tenant interest in leasing part of the office space."
The towers "are designed to mirror or exceed the quality of construction and finishes that you would find in ... offices in Buckhead and Midtown (Atlanta)," he added.
"We’re excited about it," Drucker said.
The project started about four years ago when ProCare started looking at consolidating some of its operations in various places, and the company started studying Hall County.
Through the help of government and Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce officials, "we identified (the old Central Park site) as a potential opportunity to relocate some of our operations," Drucker said.
"We were very impressed with the business environment in Gainesville-Hall County, to start with, and it was reconfirmed over this process," he said.
ProCare also "is very impressed with the demographics and potential work force in Hall County," Drucker said. "And frankly, we are aware of executives and others who are commuting from Hall County whom we want to provide an alternative, with respect to this office space."
He added he believes that quick and easy access to Interstate 985 and nearby Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport on Queen City Parkway are draws to the project.
Owners of property next to the ProCare site said Thursday they are pleased to see work starting on the project.
"We were going to build office-warehouse stuff," Walt Mathis said. "But when they started talking about developing this as ... office buildings, a hotel and restaurant, it suddenly made us look at (our property) and go, ‘Is this industrial property, is this maybe retail property?’"
Steve Meeks agreed about the reassessment, saying he has wondered if the project "would elevate the worth of our property."
"It’s great news to see them come in and start developing," he added. "... It’s such a large, visible development here in Hall, one of the few going on right now."