The City of Woodstock has a long road ahead of them before they could be seeing a 365,000-square-foot mall on the north side of Main Street. Right now, they are concentrating on altering that road instead of worrying about a only 10 miles across town or even the possibility of not having funding to complete existing outlined projects.
Both Woodstock and Ridgewalk parkways that run perpendicular to each other are set to be relocated, but the focus at the moment is on $700,000 for Ridgewalk Parkway. The Ridgewalk project is $2.77 million, with $2.7 million coming from the current SPLOST for road infrastructure projects, said Billy Peppers, director of Economic Development. Even if the outlet mall isn’t built, the road relocation will still cost $2.7 million.
City Manager Jeff Moon will go before the for a second time this afternoon to ask to move around Woodstock SPLOST money to help with the $700,000.
Peppers said the city had a $3 million SPLOST project later on down the road to connect Ridgewalk Parkway to Arnold Mill Road called the Arnold Mill Bypass. Peppers said they don’t know if they would even be able to move forward with that project because the proposed road is on the Army Corps of Engineer land and at this point, they are not allowing the county to move forward with ball fields in the area.
“So what we’ve asked for is for them to take that $700,000 out of a Woodstock SPLOST project for the Arnold Mill bypass and help us expedite getting Ridgewalk Parkway improved,” Peppers said.
Moon said this is an improvement that will happen regardless if the Horizon Group Properties moves forward with the outlet mall.
“We are going to have to spend money to improve Ridgewalk Parkway even if the outlet doesn’t take place because right now what is going to happen when GDOT leaves and finishes the interchange work, there will be a stop sign—there won’t be a light, a lane for you to merge right and head toward East Cherokee, every car will stop,” Peppers said.
He also explained Woodstock is asking the county to participate on the Ridgewalk project because he said it is going to be the exit that most people who live in East Cherokee will utilize.
If the city doesn’t get the money from the county, Moon said that is a conversation they will have to have then.
“The answer is, there is no answer, because that’s a conversation we have not had.”
Woodstock Parkway is also being relocated for $4.6 million, Woodstock footing $4.1 million and Horizon handling the rest. But, this road is only being moved because of The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta, the proposed outlet mall that could not happen.
Taubman Centers, a national shopping mall developer, is proposing an outlet mall at Highway 92 and I-75. Representatives will be discussing their plans at today’s commission meeting.
Horizon Group Properties announced the company will begin construction in the first half of this year providing approximately 1,000 construction jobs. The outlet mall is projected to create 1,200 permanent jobs and 1,600 seasonal jobs.
“I think there will only be one project that goes forward,” Moon said. “I don’t think there will be two outlet malls in the county.”
Regardless of the decisions made about the outlet malls, Moon said the city has to make these improvements anyway based on the GDOT plans.
“What obviously may come into play would be Woodstock Parkway relocation in regards to if the other outlet mall moves forward and Horizons didn’t, but the Ridgewalk improvements have to move forward one way or another because we can’t leave it the way GDOT is going to leave it.”