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Rezoning approved for retail center
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The last 10 acres of a tract of land needed to develop a new retail center along Ga. 400 were rezoned last week.

"This is the last puzzle piece for us to make our project an overall success," said Parker Blanchard of Atlanta-based Blanchard Real Estate Capital.

"We are very excited about Dawson Marketplace. We have approximately 425,000 square feet of retail planned. We already own 104 acres contiguous to this property."

Originally intended as a massive retail development that fell through when the economy tanked, Blanchard purchased the foreclosed Sembler property to build the shopping center that will include both national retailers and popular eateries.

At least six retail shops, including three restaurants, already have contracts or commitments in place to be among the first to open in the new commercial development.

While developers have not revealed which stores and restaurants will be coming, officials have said to expect retail services that are not available locally.

"Most of the businesses that will come in here, retail businesses, will be for local and the immediate county area, services currently that most of us have to drive to Cumming or Gainesville or someplace else to make those purchases," said Charlie Auvermann, executive director of the Development Authority of Dawson County.

He calls the retail center "a $60 million investment in Dawson County" that will bring nearly 230 new jobs to the area.

Of those, "49 of them will most likely become residents of Dawson County. And the calculation over eight years, there will be a tax revenue to the county of about $21 million ... from the project," he said.

The development authority has worked in support of a retail center at the intersection of Ga. 400 and Dawson Forest Road for several years.

"First under Sembler, and of course, that got tangled up in the recession, and then with the Blanchard organization, who have done a tremendous job in rebuilding this idea in a new economy," Auvermann said.

The authority, along with the county, is seeking grants intended to fund improvements, such as roads, sewer and broadband capabilities, at the site between Carlisle and Dawson Forest roads.