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Vacant retail site on 400 to have new life
Former Fishermans Net location to be redeveloped
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The Development Authority of Dawson County announced last week that the old Moss Retail site located on Hwy. 400 North is to be redeveloped into a new mixed commercial use project.

The 11.75-acre site is located near the intersection of Henry Grady Hwy. and Ga. 400. The physical address is 3312 Hwy. 400 N.

The land was sold on Dec. 12, 2016 for $727,000 to Double Effect Inc., which will be managing the new project. The last time the property had changed hands was in January of 2003, according to records.

The new project is a result of a joint effort between the agents representing the Donald Moss Estate, the development authority and the services of the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission (GMRC).

"For a number of years, the board of the development authority has identified the site as a key redevelopment project," said Charlie Auvermann, director of the authority.

The property was purchased in 1984 by Donald W. Moss, a real estate builder and developer who died in 2015. The land was built upon over a span of years beginning in 1987 and ending in 1993.

Home to one of the original landmark restaurants along Ga. 400, the Moss location once served both passing tourists and locals by offering several businesses which included the Fisherman's Net restaurant, convenience stores, a laundromat and other small businesses.

The Fisherman's Net eventually moved near the present-day Ingles shopping center, taking the bulk of the Moss Retail business with it.

The property and it's 552,776 square feet of buildings fell into disuse and eventually was declared a blighted location, according to Auvermann.

"The development authority was contacted by agents of the Donald Moss Estate for help in determining the true status of the property and for help in the generation of a redevelopment plan," Auvermann said. "We started that effort with the GMRC through Adam Hazell, the GMRC Planning Director."

The redevelopment plan was created by the GMRC planning staff and covers a review of the current location along with its buildings and then looks at the surround character of the site, Auvermann said. From that a plan was proposed which would give a potential developer some idea of what might be constructed on the site.

"The GMRC determined that while rather run down, the Moss property was not officially blighted and they also agreed with engineering assessments that it was not a brown field," Auvermann said.

Brown fields are the term given to sites that contain possible pollution or toxic waste dumps. Once that was determined it became much easier for the estate agents to market the location.

The GMRC completed the study in May of 2016. It showed how the site could be developed into a configuration that included a new anchor restaurant, boutique retail stores and general services stores such as dry cleaners.

The plan further detailed that an overall façade using rustic and mountain architectural themes would allow it to blend into the general landscape while adhering to the county's Ga. 400 corridor guidelines.

Ultimately the firm of Double Effect Inc. of Alpharetta selected the site for development.
"The general vision of both the GMRC and the estate agents along with the efforts of the Development Authority have led to elimination of a very depressing site that we all have seen for years along GA 400. The new project will be a very significant improvement and will bring a substantial opportunity for a new sit down dining restaurant along with other small businesses to our county," Auvermann stated.

The Fisherman's Net restaurant near Ingles was eventually torn down to make way for the current Northside Medical facility.

The Moss project may retain the original restaurant building because it was determined that it might be possible to save the structure. All the remaining buildings on the site are expected to be torn down and removed.

Staff writer Allie Dean contributed to this story.