FLOWERY BRANCH—The Flowery Branch City Council has given approval to start the pre-design work on an overhaul of the city's downtown area.
The approval is for a process totaling $542,000, broken into two phases. The first phase, which totals $65,000, will include a survey of the area, a traffic study, and a building program; the second is for architecture and engineering services totaling $477,000.
The contract was awarded to Southeastern Engineering, Inc. and Wakefield, Beasley, and Associates.
The project, once it's completed, will come at a total cost of $4.9 million, and will include a new city hall, a new public plaza area, more parking along Railroad Avenue (53 spaces added, bringing the total to 76), sidewalks from Main Street to Chestnut Street, and an extension of Pine Street between Railroad Avenue and Church Street.
"Theoretically I think we could be under construction on these facilities by the end of the year. That's...our goal," said Bill Andrew, City Manager.
The motion passed 3-1, with Councilman Joe Anglin casting the lone dissenting vote and Mayor Mike Miller casting the necessary third "yea" vote.
Anglin said the city should have spent more time soliciting bids and crunching numbers.
"I totally understand the need (for the development). I just have an issue with the process," said Anglin. "I've got a number here, but I've got nothing to compare it to. I don't know if it's a good price."
Councilman Fred Richards said the city has spent enough time planning, and the local businesses deserve the revitalization of the area.
"This redevelopment has just been sitting here for a year doing nothing," said Richards.
"The citizens down here have spoken. They want downtown redevelopment," said Miller.
The city intends to finance the plan through 2021, with 48% of the $4.9 million coming from SPLOST VII, which voters approved in March. The other 52% will come form the local resource fund, general fund, and other various revenue sources within the budget.
One feature in the wording of the contract also allows the city to opt out at any time they want.
"We can hit 'stop' at any time, but obviously what we'd like to do is get through the pre-design work, see what we've all decided that we want to have happen, see if it makes sense, and then we would pull the trigger and move forward on the actual blue prints to build everything," said Andrew.