Gainesville developments bring new life to the downtown district

GAINESVILLE, Georgia – Residents, businesses and city officials of Gainesville have said they look forward to the imminent completion of some $ 200 million in new developments and infrastructure upgrades in the historic downtown area of ​​the city.

A combination of public and private funding will bring new apartments, shops, restaurants, venues and higher education institutions to the area surrounding Gainesville Square, along with improved sidewalks and parking options.

“If the heart of Gainesville is not vibrant and strong, then it will not reach its full potential,” said Gainesville City Manager Bryan Lackey. “It allows us to create that feeling of a real downtown area where people want to go and live.”

After construction was delayed by the pandemic, Lackey said he expects projects to be completed between the end of this year and early 2022.

The $ 25 million Gainesville Renaissance mixed-use development, along the Spring Street side of the plaza, will house retail stores, restaurants, Brenau University’s psychology department and seven condos. (Tricia Cumiskey / Fresh Take Georgia)

Two of the most prominent items are a pair of mixed-use developments known as the Gainesville Renaissance and Solis Gainesville, respectively.

The Renaissance, run by Roddy Properties, is a three-story, $ 25 million building located on the Spring Street side of the plaza, with space for six retail stores and two restaurants on the first floor. The second floor will house the Department of Adolescent Psychology at the University of Brenau. The third floor is made up of seven condos.

The first-floor restaurants are in final negotiations, but development is expected to be completed by the end of this year with only minor tasks to be completed in January, according to Lackey.

The Solis Gainesville Project is a $ 50 million mixed-use development led by Terwilliger Pappas. The six-acre property will include 223 apartments and two restaurants facing Jesse Jewell Parkway. Restaurants will be located just outside Gainesville Square, at the end of a pedestrian bridge formerly known to locals as the “Bridge to Nowhere”.

Other projects include the $ 15 million Bourbon Brothers Smokehouse and Music venue and a $ 75 million Courtyard Marriott hotel and apartment complex named The National.

Construction continues on the site of the new Courtyard Marriott hotel and The National apartment complex. (Tricia Cumiskey / Fresh Take Georgia)

Lackey said two of the private projects are in a tax allocation district, which means they could get some of their property taxes refunded over the next 15 years. He said the city has approved up to $ 11 million in tax refunds for The National and $ 3 million for the Gainesville Renaissance, but the final amount will be determined by how much developers have spent on the projects.

In addition, the city is undertaking a $ 3 million street development, which will come from the general fund, and $ 13 million for a new parking lot on the north side of the plaza financed by local sales taxes.

Chris Richardson, a local business owner who operates three restaurants in the square – Re-cess Southern Gastro Pub, Stables at Re-cess and YellowFin – said he welcomed the changes, even though construction was a scrapper -Head aggravated by pandemic restrictions.

“The construction hit us hard because of a parking lot perspective, just chaos,” he said, adding that the sidewalk renovations limited access to the front door to businesses from. Bradford Street.

But the city has tried to bypass the schedules of these businesses, Richardson said, and now that the work is complete, its restaurants are starting to see an increase in customer base.

“My three restaurants will gain outdoor seating due to the enlarged sidewalks,” he said. “When the weather is nice, it’s best to sit outside, which will bring in a lot of new faces. “

Holly Litton, 49, lived in Gainesville for 10 years before moving to Cumming, Ga., And said she was surprised to see the place now. She said the renovations are giving downtown Gainesville a facelift.

Holly Litton, a former resident of Gainesville, visits a local restaurant in the square. (Tricia Cumiskey / Fresh Take Georgia)

“I usually pass through Gainesville so this is the first time I’ve walked the plaza in quite a while and I’m amazed at what’s going on,” she said.

Mary Lina Pardue, 48, director of children’s ministry at the First United Methodist Church in Gainesville, said she came downtown to eat, shop and have her hair done at a local salon.

“It gives us a complete downtown, like a destination where everyone wants to be,” Pardue said.

This article is published on Now Habersham as part of a partnership with Fresh Take Georgia

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