Posted: Tuesday, August 27th 2013 at 8:18pm
Flowery Branch Citizens view a better downtown
By Jerry Gunn Staff
FLOWERY BRANCH - Citizens of Flowery Branch Tuesday night met at the town’s historic train depot at Main Street and Railroad Avenue and they had a say on what should happen to their historic downtown.
They listened to Pond and Company consultant Joel Reed from Atlanta as he outlined city assets and what it would take to create a more marketable ‘Old Town’, and then they broke into groups and illustrated their thoughts and wishes on large maps.
It was the first in a series of three Community Visioning Workshops for the Flowery Branch Old Town Redevelopment. Residents, business owners and city officials were invited to attend and learn about the planning process and overall goals of the project. City Council will review the final plan in November.
Reed, who is project manager, said he wanted to produce an Old Town improvement work plan, not just an ‘on the shelf’ plan, for Flowery Branch and the ingredients are there, including existing historic architecture and a good tree canopy. Reed pointed out that Flowery Branch is the only historic town he knows of that is close to Lake Lanier, a major tourist destination point. Population in the 45 to 64 year age range has increased, and that’s the population with the largest amount of disposable income.
“We’re coming to the community to ask them to see what type of uses they would like to see downtown; commercial, residential and retail, what those uses look like and where they would be located,” Reed said. “It’s been described in the city’s Comprehensive Plan and our goal is to build on that and actually have a plan that can be implemented with actual re-development opportunities over the next five to 15 years.”
Reed observed that the economy is recovering from the 2008 downturn and a market study is underway to measure Old Town’s potential.
“Downtown is almost fully leased at this point,” said Community Development Director John McHenry. “We’ve got a lot of new businesses coming in and we just want to see more businesses come in.”
McHenry said there’s a lot of development in Flowery Branch surrounding historic downtown and he wants it to come downtown.
“We’d like to have some new buildings and inject even more growth and energy downtown,” McHenry added. “We want to look at a bunch of different scenarios where potentially we could have mixed use, public facilities, parks, trail ways and that’s what is coming out of this study.”
According to McHenry redevelopment visioning effort is building off the city’s Comprehensive Plan, which lays out current and future zoning.
“What they’ve designated for downtown is more development, more mixed use, a range of different housing options, options for seniors and more public space, so it dovetails with the Comprehensive Plan,” McHenry said.
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