clear
Saturday September 5th, 2015 3:48AM

Dreams and plans 'mesh' in historic Flowery Branch

By Jerry Gunn Reporter
FLOWERY BRANCH - In Flowery Branch, Planning and Community Development Director John McHenry and candy store owner Karen Ching have the same vision and for Ching, it is a dream come true.

The Liberty Candy Store, in the first floor of a street corner vintage 1906 building downtown, is in fact a childhood dream come true for Ching, a 20 year resident of Flowery Branch, originally from St. Louis, Missouri. She decided to invest in the Historic District right when a downtown re-development effort is getting into full swing, instead of opening in a more modern, higher traffic location.

"It has the old vintage look and it matches my personality more than a new mall or strip mall," Ching said. "I just like the history of downtown Flowery Branch and the community, I just like it here."

Ching wrote a business plan that included the entire building that holds 2000 square feet. She converted the second floor into six office suites, four of which are leased.

"That permitted me to go after the dream downstairs, and that was the candy store," she said. "So we've actually brought four more businesses into the building with the office suites upstairs, and a couple more would fill it up."

Ching said her personal development vision meshed with the city's re-development plan very well.

"The timing was really, really good on my part, it wasn't planned, it was sheer luck" she observed.

The Liberty Candy Store takes visitors and customers back to that special time in their childhood. It's almost like stepping back into the mid-20th century. The walls are lined with jars full of sweet treats, and in the back, there's the kitchen where the homemade fudge is created.

"There's the nostalgic candy, the candy we had in the 50's, 60's and 70's that always brings a smile to people when they come in," Ching said.

But Ching says the main attraction is what comes out of that kitchen.

"I've been making candy for my family for Christmas and Easter and different holidays for the last 20 years and I really like doing it; it was my creative outlet when I was working 9 to 5," according to Ching. "So I incorporated all these little things that I love into one place and everybody else loves it too."

It appears that historic Flowery Branch has become a family affair. Ching's
daughter-in-law works at the new health and wellness center that just opened next door. Her son works at the sales and marketing office for the family steel business, Coppersmith and Liberty Steel Fabricators, just up the street.
As for the Liberty Candy Company, Ching said she surprised her accountant by showing a profit after the first month in business in June.

Karen Ching and her investment is just the kind of development John McHenry wants to see. He just wants to see more of it, and so do the people who attended the August 27th re-development information meeting at the historic Railroad Depot on Main Street.

"There were definitely some common themes in terms of what people want to see in this city," McHenry said. "People want to see retail opportunities, they want to see more 'walkability', better connection between McEver Road and Atlanta Highway and they're looking at potentially where City Hall could go."

McHenry recalled there was a good turn-out at the meeting, around 40 citizens, and one thing they were interested in was what could be done with the city owned property downtown.

"Downtown is almost fully leased at this point, but we do have a bunch of city owned properties and we want to take advantage of the current economic climate," McHenry said. "People want to be in a downtown area where they can walk to things and have shops and restaurants. We want to kick start that."

Keys to developing downtown could include successfully marketing those city owned properties. There are three of them, and moving city services off Main Street and away from prime retail spots would make room for the retailers. Another key could open up downtown with better road connections.

"It could bring in traffic and people could see what a great area this is," McHenry observed. "A lot of folks don't realize there's this awesome, quaint, historic area of Flowery Branch, and they really just need to see it, and once they see it, they'll love it and want to come to it more."
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Missing Ga. bank director arrested in Brunswick
A bank director accused of losing millions of investors' dollars before vanishing last year was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop in a city in south Georgia.
7:00PM ( 1 year ago )
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Business News
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Victim critical following apartment fire
A 41-year-old woman was in critical but stable condition Tuesday after being rescued from an apartment fire in Forsyth County late Monday afternoon.
3:16PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Week 2: Streaks continue, end for area teams
West Hall, Commerce, Lanier, and Jefferson all continued their winning ways in grand style while Buford saw its 42-game win streak come to a screeching halt on a Friday night of lopsided wins around northeast Georgia.
9:00AM ( 5 hours from now )
Sentencing handed down for two former Hall Co. Sheriff Office employees
Federal Judge Richard Story handed out two similar sentences in U.S. District Court in Gainesville Friday afternoon but called each case unique to itself.
6:41PM ( 9 hours ago )
More attempted political comebacks set for Nov. 3; Clermont special election likely in March
As the books closed on qualifying for the Nov. 3 city elections Friday,the number of former office-holders seeking a political comeback in northeast Georgia increased.
6:36PM ( 9 hours ago )
Hall deputies arrest suspect in 2014 molestation case
Acting on a tip, Hall County Sheriff's Office warrants deputies arrested a man this week, suspected of child molestation in 2012.
1:17PM ( 14 hours ago )
Alto man arrested for growing pot
An Alto man is behind bars after authorities say he tried to cut down and dispose of marijuana plants while authorities were searching for pot growers from a helicopter.
12:38PM ( 15 hours ago )