Category: Front Page

Planet Fitness planned for former Kroger building

Planet Fitness will be moving into the far left side of the old Kroger building at the intersection of Ga. 400 and Hwy. 53. The building has been vacant since November 2016 when the grocery store moved to a new location further south on Ga. 400. – photo by Jessica Taylor

Allie Dean
Updated: Feb. 13, 2019, 12 a.m.

The shopping center that formerly housed the local Kroger for nearly two decades will soon see a new occupant as Planet Fitness has filed a permit to move into the empty building.
The gym will be located on the left side of the anchor space, where the pharmacy was previously located.
Planet Fitness will utilize 16,800 square feet of the building, leaving 54,000 square feet of retail space still available to other businesses.
Brice Scholz, marketing manager for Planet Fitness, confirmed the news on Monday.

“We are excited to be joining the Dawson County community,” Scholz said. “Additional information about construction, opening and joining the gym will be coming soon.”
A joint statement from the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce, Development Authority of Dawson County, Michael Walker of Brand Real Estate Services and the owners of the shopping center, Monarch at Dawson Village, stated the groups have been and continue to be committed to filling the anchor space in the Dawson Village shopping center, which is located in the northeast corner of the Ga. 400 and Hwy. 53 intersection.
“We are thrilled that Planet Fitness is investing in Dawson County and look forward to experiencing the positive impact that this investment will have on this center and community,” the statement reads.
Kroger relocated to a new 125,000 square foot building in November 2016 as the anchor for the Dawson Marketplace shopping center.
The development authority issued a bond agreement with Kroger in 2015 to give the company some tax relief once the store opened. The arrangement also included a stipulation that Kroger would continue to maintain the old store and aid in finding a new tenant for the building.
Emilia Pearson, a representative of Monarch at Dawson Village, said that the group will be improving the center by upgrading the parking lot lights and resurfacing the parking lot.
“Along with Planet Fitness, we are pleased to announce that we will also have a new chiropractic office and tanning salon opening at the center in the next few months,” Pearson said.

Avalon Architect to design Dawson mixed-use development

Allie Dean
Updated: March 5, 2019, 4:24 p.m.

The Rotary Club of Dawson County last week welcomed the architect who will be designing the retail portion of a proposed mixed-use development on Ga. 400 and Lumpkin Campground Road currently known as Etowah Village.
Lamar Wakefield, whose firm is most well-known for designing the Avalon in Alpharetta and The Battery Atlanta at SunTrust Park, among other projects, was the guest speaker at the Rotary meeting Feb. 28.
Wakefield founded Wakefield Beasley & Associates, an architecture firm based in Alpharetta, in 1980.
He has been involved in the project since the land was owned by the Southern Catholic College in the early 2000s.

Wakefield’s comments at the Rotary Club meeting centered on the main retail village component, which will be located closest to Ga. 400 and contain retail, office and apartment space. The concept plan also shows a luxury hotel and conference center, a performing arts center and a 1-acre Asian garden.
Wakefield said that the key to retail centers like the one proposed is no longer about leasing space due to the prevalence of online shopping, but about merchandising.
“We want to put retailers in place that promote cross-shopping and therefore increase dwell time, and dwell time is the key to keeping anybody in business,” Wakefield said. “The only thing susceptible to failure in a deal like this is the food and beverage and retail, that’s it. If we can’t keep people in front of them 16 hours a day, they won’t make it.”

Lamar Wakefield, lauded architect of mixed-use developments such as Alpharetta’s Avalon, spoke to the Rotary Club of Dawson County Feb. 28 about his involvement in the plans for a similar development in Dawson County. – photo by Allie Dean

Engaging retail and restaurants that make sense for the demographics the development is expected to attract is key.
“Every tenant that will be in this village is driven by a demographic; the population in a three-to five mile radius as well as the demographics of that population,” Wakefield said.
The live, work, play feature is also key to making large mixed-use developments thrive, Wakefield said.

“Density is your friend if you want these things to be successful; you want as much office, you want as much residential, you want as much retail, you want as much hospitality as you can and any entertainment venues that you can do,” Wakefield said.
The project has lots of density proposed, with 2,727 housing units planned and an overall residential density of 2.8 units per acre.
A 350-unit continuing care retirement community will be located next to the retail village, with an active adult community and single family housing spanning across the banks of the Etowah River down to Etowah River Road.
A 40-acre county park and canoe launch are also marked on the map.
Corey Gutherie, an engineer who is working on the residential components of the project, said it is not going to be an overnight development.
“You’re seeing a plan for about 2,000 residential units, a ton of office space, retail, but this isn’t going to be built overnight,” Gutherie said. “The benefit of this plan is that it’s thought out, we’re master planning it, so rather than having a hodgepodge of different zonings throughout the next 10 or 20 years…the residential component will help entice folks to keep the retail component vibrant.”

Gutherie said that a Development of Regional Impact, or DRI, review process is underway with the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, and that a traffic study has identified many traffic improvements that will be necessary to accommodate the development.
“Within the next few weeks, the recommendations for the DRI should be published, which will have to be incorporated into this development, that includes improved intersections, new roads,” Gutherie said.
Gutherie said the zoning process will take three to four months and be followed by the design process, so groundbreaking would not take place for at least another year or year and a half.
According to the DRI, the buildout could take 10 years and will be worth an estimated $600 million.
A rezoning request for the development will go before the Dawson County Planning Commission at 6 p.m. March 19 and before the Board of Commissioners at 6 p.m. April 18.

A-Etowah Village pic 1.JPG

Architect Lamar Beasley, Norton Real Estate Agent John Drew and Dawson Village Partners President Yong Pan, who are all working on the proposed Etowah Village development in Dawson County, pose with Wyman Walden, owner of CW Hardware True Value, at a Rotary Club meeting Feb. 28. – photo by Allie Dean

Career Academy breaks ground, opens for students August 2019

A 3D rendering of the new career academy designed by architectural firm Robertson Loia Roof shows what the completed $7 million facility will look like when it opens in August 2019. – photo by For the Dawson County News

Jessica Taylor
Updated: March 13, 2018, 4:32 p.m.

Dawson County High School’s current practice field will soon become the parking lot for the new career academy that is set to break ground early this summer.
The 35,000 square foot, two-story facility will house new state-of-the-art labs for the high school’s dual enrollment students.
“We were looking at the possibility of revamping our current labs in our building and as we looked at the future of our district – five, 10, 15 years down the road – we had to determine if the space we had in the building for our regular academic courses would be enough,” said Superintendent Damon Gibbs. “Realistically the amount of money we would put into renovation we can build the building. Obviously it’s more because it’s a new building but we can renovate the existing space for additional academic classrooms for the future.”
The architectural firm Robertson Loia Roof in Alpharetta has been approved to design the building and has already submitted the floor plans. The site, located on the corner of Hwy 53 and Perimeter Road, has been surveyed and the soil sample has been submitted for testing but the project is still months away from seeing dirt move.

The Dawson County Planning and Development recommended Carroll Daniel Construction and was approved to construct the new facility by the board of education during the meeting March 12.
The building is estimated to cost $7 million and will be funded completely through the county’s ESPLOST funds.
The new career academy is just another way the Dawson County School System will better serve the career tech students and will help to eliminate the issue of transportation that has been a problem for many dual enrollment students.
“It’s going to really transform the way we serve those students with 21st century lab space and really give those programs really just the recognition and the service that they deserve,” Gibbs said.
Currently, the culinary arts program operates out of an old home economics classroom and before the JROTC opened their new facility this year, they were operating in space that was never designed to be used for that program.
“We’re trying to give appropriate space to the appropriate programs so that they can better serve our kids,” said Gibbs.

The career academy will contain labs for early childhood education, culinary arts, construction and engineering and technology on the first floor as well as outdoor work areas, classrooms and a seminar room. The second floor will house two multiuse business and computer science labs, a science lab, a healthcare science lab, classrooms and a broadcast and video production lab and studio.
The only lab that will stay at its current location is the agricultural lab due to its proximity to the greenhouse.
While there currently aren’t any students to fill the construction and video production labs, Gibbs said they are being built for future growth of the programs as dual enrollment continues to become a more popular route for students.
The early registration numbers anticipate 70 dual enrollment students for next year, a number that is expected to increase as the program becomes a more popular option for students.
Gibbs hopes that the new facility will help foster the county’s dual enrollment program and strengthen relationships with Lanier Tech and the University of North Georgia, and he suggested that college students may be able to utilize the facility as well.
“I think that’s part of the partnership that has to be worked out and if Lanier Tech or University of North Georgia wants to send their professors we’re more than willing for that to happen… but if they want to use some of our folks because they don’t have enough staff then we want to offer that as well,” said Gibbs. “How that shakes out is really to be determined but we know that one of the two different districts across the state are using both models so we know that either one of those can be successful.
And we have plenty of time. That’s the good part for us. We’re what, 16-18 months out from that thing opening so we got plenty of time.”
The Dawson County High School Career Academy will open its doors to students August 2019.