A stroll through downtown Braselton is like taking a trip into the past. Historic two-story homes marked by spectacular architecture and stately white columns dot the landscape, an... read more
Cities across the country had to pivot in unexpected and unprecedented ways over the last year. It was no different in metro Atlanta, where towns and municipalities across the area went from enjoying a booming economy and an impressive influx of new residents to hunkering down and searching for ways to support anxious homeowners and local businesses that feared the worst. However, those cities persevered, and as we begin to emerge from these extraordinary times, they are getting back on track and embracing their strengths as they look forward to flourishing once again. Here, KNOWAtlanta looks at three particular metro cities that have managed to rebound beautifully while maintaining and promoting the qualities that make them so unique.
Braselton: At a Crossroads
Situated 49 miles northeast of Atlanta, Braselton sits at the center of several major highways and roadways, including I-85, I-985 and state routes 211 and 347. Over the last several years, that location has brought a great deal of development to the area, with the opening of Northeast Georgia Medical Center and an array of subsequently developed medical facilities, commercial centers and residential offerings. Coupled with an already booming tourism industry, anchored by Château Élan Winery & Resort and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, the town has been on a tremendous upswing.
“Braselton is truly blessed by location,” says town manager Jennifer Scott. “As metro Atlanta has growth northward along I-85 and I-985, the town has become an increasingly desirable location to live and work. Companies see the logistical advantages of being at the crossroads of several transportation corridors that lead to Atlanta, Athens and Greenville. And Braselton’s distribution centers, manufacturers and industrial warehouses have brought thousands of jobs to the surrounding area.”
During the pandemic, Braselton was able to lean on the revenue increases it had already experienced prior to last year’s lockdowns. And today, the town, propped up by its unparalleled location and stellar reputation, already has seen a recovery in economic growth that rivals the pre-COVID era. With that in mind, Braselton has been able to move forward with implementing a comprehensive planning process that will address land use and zoning, transportation and mobility, community facilities and services, housing, parks and green infrastructure, fiscal responsibility, community leadership and more. Also, the Georgia Department of Transportation has widened I-85 and will soon begin widening GA 211. According to Nikki Perry, tourism director for the Braselton Visitors Bureau Authority, “The GA 211 widening project is an extension of the beloved Braselton LifePath, a 10-foot-wide concrete pathway that residents use to access nearby businesses via golf cart, bicycle and foot. In addition, the Town is in permitting to build a multi-modal bridge over GA 211.”
What’s more, Braselton plans to continue investments into the downtown area, where the historic Braselton Bros. Department Store mercantile is being redeveloped to house multiple tenants to complement existing businesses. A new civic center will be completed in the fall of 2021, bringing more events and visitors to Downtown Braselton, which soon will be enhanced with a new public art master plan to strategically add art throughout the area. And with that perfect blend of development in the areas of residential options, restaurant and retail space, medical facilities and hospitality, Braselton is poised to enjoy even more explosive growth and overall great success in the coming years.
For more information, visit braselton.net.
Frederick Brown Ampitheater
Peachtree City: Embracing Tourism
According to Kym Hughes, executive director of the Peachtree City Convention and Visitors Bureau, “It’s been obvious for the last several weeks, people are scratching their pent up travel itch and hitting the road. We started seeing a hustle and bustle in the Welcome and Visitors Center in early April as families made their way in with tons of questions about Peachtree City as they were looking to move here.”
It’s really not surprising that tourists from as far away as Germany, Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle are finding their way to the popular vacation spot of Peachtree City and discovering that it’s actually a place where they want to live. That phenomenon has been a prominent fixture for the city for many years, as a few days in town can give visitors get a glimpse of what life can be like in this master-planned metro area gem. The community is known for its high quality of life and its reputation as a close-knit community that features everything from a robust residential market to a thriving business community. It also has something that no other local city does: more than 100 miles of paved, wooded golf cart paths that allow residents and visitors alike to traverse the community with great ease and bit of whimsy, accessing everything from nearby lakes, parks, trails and playgrounds to local businesses and venues. “Where else can you avoid metro traffic, hop on a golf cart to explore over 100 miles of multi-use paths, grab a bite to eat and shop or go to a great concert? You can in Peachtree City,” Hughes observes.
That simple quality of life feature is one of the biggest draws of this growing community. And it’s one that anyone can enjoy at any time. While many residents own their own golf carts, visitors can “grab and go” rented vehicles to check out everything Peachtree City has to offer. As Hughes recalls, “Back in April, I had several families that felt safely socially distanced on a rented golf cart. Then I had a motor coach tour group that got off the bus and rented golf carts. For three hours, they had so much fun. And when I filmed a live Facebook video during their tour, someone else called me from another metro city and planned a multifamily tour for the next weekend, renting five golf carts for a birthday party. They bought a picnic lunch at a local eatery and planned stops a local retailers. For us, tourism promotion plays a vital role in raising the profile of our city and contributing to its economic development.”
That philosophy has been especially important for Peachtree City as the last year wore on. While the local hospitality industry certainly felt the impact of the economic downturn, it is beginning to come roaring back, and the needle continues moving in the right direction. That improvement is aided by a new program the CVB has instituted that is designed to help businesses find applicants for open positions in local hotels, restaurants and other establishments. “It is a labor of love,” Hughes says. “Our city puts its best foot forward when we have talented and experienced frontline workers in our hotels and restaurants. And as funding returns, we will be investing in marketing, advertising and staffing to promote our destination and to service our potential guests.”
Clearly, in Peachtree City, one thing leads to another. When tourism is on the rise, so is the number of incoming residents and the ensuing economic development. So today, this master-planned community plans to roll out the red carpet for visitors from across the country and around the world. All they need is a golf cart and a willingness to enjoy it all. “We are ready for you when you are ready to get out and breathe in some fun again,” Hughes concludes. “If you need a resort-style getaway, we welcome you.”
For more information, go to visitpeachtreecity.com.
Marietta: A Focused Effort
Historic Marietta Square is one of the metro area’s most well-known and beloved hot spots. From Glover Park in the heart of the square to the unique shops and restaurants that surround it, people flock to this adored downtown attraction. However, there’s so much more to Marietta, and the city is making a concerted effort to bring attention to an array of new economic development efforts.
“As a city, we cast a wide net. No single initiative receives our entire focus, as we are constantly looking for ways to engage our community in opportunities for improvement, both in the commercial and residential arenas,” says Daniel M. Cummings, economic development manager with the City of Marietta Department of Development Services. “Commercial corridor development and residential growth have been hallmarks of the city’s success. And we continue to invest in infrastructure improvements, beautification and redevelopment, as well as improve our development process.”
Thanks to this approach, Marietta proved to be extremely resilient during the COVID crisis and actually saw multiple businesses form and expand as the pandemic continued through 2020. According to Cummings, coffee shops, butcher shops, a grocer, restaurants and even construction companies were established and grew during the course of the year. “There was never a time in which businesses and residents could not move forward on their projects,” he adds.
This was particularly beneficial when it came to redevelopment effort that is occurring on the Roswell Street Corridor, where Atlanta Hard Cider has become one of the local alcoholic beverage manufacturing industry’s newest businesses, opening in early 2021. The facility, located near US-41 and The Big Chicken, will operate as a distillery, tasting room and local hangout space and will join Red Hare Brewing Company, Still on the Square, Ironmonger Brewing Company, Schoolhouse Brewing, Glover Park Brewery, Treehorn Cider and Shezmu Cellars in this burgeoning sector for Marietta. Together, these establishments have become a huge draw for the city, attracting new visitors and new residents to the area. And the development of the Roswell Street Corridor is in line with similar efforts along S. Marietta Parkway and Powder Springs Street, among others. “We constantly look for attractive opportunities for redevelopment that leverages the success of the Marietta Square and expands the quality retail and restaurant options throughout the community,” Cummings reveals.
Atlanta Hard Cider
As the pandemic continues to recede, Marietta offers residents an exceptional quality of life in a community that boasts both small-town charm and outstanding opportunities. And it is positioned to prosper even more in the coming years. “We remain optimistic there will be continued growth and recovery. Economic indicators like permitting, investment and unemployment have provided a lot of reason to be positive,” Cummings says. For instance, residential development has continued to flourish with over 900 new single-family homes currently in development, while four multifamily housing units also are being built. What’s more, Marietta will begin working on a comprehensive plan in the fall, allowing the city to consider new strategies for the growth and development of its already vibrant economy.
“Our goal is to continue to build on our successes to make sure that our residents continue to enjoy a high quality of life,” Cummings states. “A rich history, strong local school system, active civic clubs and religious organizations, low crime rates, abundant amenities and a vibrant, walkable downtown square with an array of unique shopping and dining options help make Marietta an attractive place.”n