Dawson County may very well be next in line to become a county with a major mixed-use development. After watching the success of Avalon, and the construction a couple miles up Ga. 400 of Halcyon, a group called Dawson Village Partners is moving forward with its plans to build Dawson County’s version of those two on 974 acres along the banks of the Etowah River.
The massive site is located in the northwest corner of the Ga. 400 and Highway 53. For those familiar with the area, it will be just east of Uncle Shucks Corn Maze, whose property does not appear to be part of the development.
To give you the idea of the scale of this project, it is roughly 9 times the size of Avalon. That is a huge assemblage of 40 mostly undeveloped properties. The final project won’t be anywhere near as dense as Avalon. It includes 273 acres for parks and greenspace, a 40-acre public park on the Etowah River that will also have a canoe launch and a winery and vineyard.
A large chunk of the development will also incorporate residential living with 800 multi-family units, 101 single-family attached homes, 604 single-family detached homes and a 350-unit continuing care retirement community with both independent and assisted living. All of this will surround more than 338,000 square feet of retail space that the developer says will “be designed with an Avalon-Urban Village Life-style, incorporating residential living on the second and third story above retail area.”
And then there is this: the developer is proposing 243,000 square feet of office space with a building up to 10 stories tall. I’m guessing that this would serve as the tallest building in Dawson County. I don’t know of any other Class A office space certainly of this size in Dawson County. It could be the first real attempt by the county to draw in a significant white-collar workforce.
In addition, the project is including a convention and performing arts center. This seems like something that would be done in conjunction with county civic leaders to either draw people up into the scenic and rural Dawson County, or make it more desirable for businesses who may want to get away from the traffic and have an office in a walkable area out in the country.
The final thing that caught my attention was the inclusion of a “historic Chinese cultural center providing public awareness of Chinese arts, gardens, herbal medicine, and lifestyle.” Plans are probably still be worked out, but the application seemed to say that this cultural center will include 199,000 square feet of retail space, restaurants and retail service including a 4-story hotel. It’s hard to tell, but it kind of looks like this is going to be a Chinatown-esque kind of a thing. Renderings show the hotel and retail buildings surrounding small ponds and a “Chinese classical garden.”
If the project is approved by Dawson County officials, it would be a massive next step for a county that has quietly made small, smart decisions over the years. The first win for Dawson County was landing the North Georgia Premium Outlets many years ago. They wanted to put the outlet mall in Forsyth County, but Forsyth didn’t want it. So Dawson welcomed it with open arms and has been bathing in its tax-base ever since. The malls have kept property taxes low for Dawson County residents and no doubt funded small seed projects all across the county.
Geoff Smith is a mortgage banker with Assurance Financial focusing on residential home loans for refinances and home purchases.
*The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of Assurance Financial Group