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Big mixed-use development proposed on Ga. 400
“Live, Work, Play” community planned on former Southern Catholic College land
Etowah Village rendering
A digital rendering of what Etowah Village could look like, as submitted in the developer's rezoning request Feb. 8.

A private development group has proposed a 947-acre destination mixed-use development in Dawson County that will feature retail, office space and housing similar in nature to Alpharetta’s Avalon development.

Norton real estate agents John Drew and Gina Johnson said the project, currently called Etowah Village, will go in on land formerly owned by the Southern Catholic College.

The acreage spans from the northwest corner of Lumpkin Campground Road and Ga. 400 westward, crossing the Etowah River and reaching down to Etowah River Road.

The development group, Dawson Village Partners, submitted a rezoning application to the county Feb. 8 to rezone the land for a Mixed Use Village district.

Around 2,700 housing units are planned for the residential portion, from estate homes to high end apartments over retail space.

“We really want people to have the experience of living in a community where you can see the mountains but have all the shopping and retail right around the corner and have a worry-free existence; you don’t have to own a lawn mower for example,” Johnson said.

The plan also includes a 400-home age-restricted senior community on the west side of the Etowah River and a continuing care retirement community centered on the Ga. 400 side of the river with options for memory care, assisted living and independent living.

The idea is that the aging Baby Boomer population in Dawson County and surrounding north Georgia will not have to leave their families and churches behind and will be able to live out the rest of their lives within the new community. Johnson likened the community to Lanier Village Estates in Gainesville.

“Once you have become a member of the (continuing care retirement community), you can graduate independent living to nursing home care, and you don’t leave until you’re toes up,” Johnson said. “It’s got everything- dining and events, the one my mom lived in was like a cruise ship that didn’t move.”

Because of the age targeting, Johnson said she doesn’t anticipate much impact on local schools.

“The majority of these apartments (at the Avalon) are couples who have sold their big house, they’re living in an apartment, they’ve got a place in Florida or they travel,” she said.

Etowah Village site plan.jpg
A drafted master plan of Etowah Village as submitted in the developer's rezoning application Feb. 8.

In addition to housing, developers have included over 300,000 square feet of retail space and over 200,000 square feet of Class A office space in the plans.  Medical offices are expected to have a large presence in the development.

Dawson Village Partners President Yong Pan said the development is not meant to compete with the county’s existing retail, such as the North Georgia Premium Outlets, but will help keep visitors in the county longer by offering high end dining options and a place to spend the night.

“Our project just adds on to help more people to come in, and when they come in we can help them stay one more night and spend much more money than just coming in the morning and leaving in the evening,” he said. “We can make more tax revenue.”
While the retail and business aspects may mirror the Avalon, the development will have much more green space.

Pan said the plan is to preserve 233 acres for open green space, and he emphasized a walkable community converging on a town center, which will include a central park, conference center, luxury hotel and Asian gardens, among other cultural attractions.

Also planned are several features that would benefit more than just the residents of the development.

The acreage contains land that will be offered to the county for construction of a new fire station as well as a new 40-acre county park and canoe launch.

There have also been talks of converting an old home on the property near the river to a museum honoring the site’s Native American heritage.

Along the Etowah River, a vineyard and winery are planned, along with walking trails.

The project will be staged and could take a decade to complete.

The project will go before the Dawson County Planning Commission at 6 p.m. March 19.