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Cumming City Center another step closer as officials break ground on project
Troy Brumbalow
A groundbreaking ceremony was Wednesday, Aug. 7 for the Cumming City Center, a development planning to feature restaurants, businesses, the Cumming Police Department and a movie theater in an undeveloped area west and northwest of Forsyth Central High School. - photo by Crystal Ledford for the Forsyth County News

As city of Cumming officials and partners turned dirt with golden shovels, a major project downtown took a big step toward becoming a reality.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Wednesday, Aug. 7 for the Cumming City Center, a development planning to feature restaurants, businesses, the Cumming Police Department and a movie theater in an undeveloped area west and northwest of Forsyth Central High School.

“We had a tremendous turnout, there had to have been well over 100 people, someone from the governor’s office, all our local folks,” said Cumming Mayor Troy Brumbalow. “We’re so excited about it. The first step in making the dream a reality."

Brumbalow said the groundbreaking meant the project was “going to be in high gear now.”

First announced last summer, the city center has been a big project for Brumbalow and the city of Cumming over the last year.

“People don’t understand the significance of what’s taking place here,” said David Leathers, chairman of the Downtown Cumming Development Authority. “I’m not a real estate developer … but when you take a piece of raw land and take it through the entitlement and development process and the design process and the regulatory and environmental processes … It’s huge, and it’s a significant undertaking.”

The city center will be located on Canton Highway and will abut Forsyth Central High School on a 75-acre plot of land. The development will feature an amphitheater, walking trails, park, space for businesses and a lake with a fountain.

“Like the mayor said, it’s a destination. It’s a place for people to come have a drink, have dinner, see a concert,” said Andy Lovejoy, president of Civil Engineering Consultants. “The outdoor amphitheater, great opportunity for outdoor summer series concerts you see in other areas.”

Across Canton Highway, about 14 acres will also be donated to the city and will include other walking trails.

Forsyth Central and the city center will share a parking lot located northwest of the school’s football stadium.

Though the center will largely be green space and businesses, the Cumming Police Department and the city’s municipal court will also move to the development.

“I’ve got kids at Central,” Leathers said. “When this is done, they’ll be able to walk from school to the city center and there’s a police presence, and I don’t have to worry about if they’re safe or anything like that.”

Plans show the park will be near the amphitheater, which will likely be used for Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies, concerts, plays and other performances, and will include new memorials for veterans and public safety personnel.

Townhomes were once planned as part of the project but have since been removed.

Lovejoy said actual work on the project is going to start soon on installing a new gravity sewer outfall and doing stream work on Kelly Mill Creek, which he likened to adding curves to a highway to slow down drivers.

“The existing sewer pipes that run through the site, they’re undersized and they’re old and they’re dilapidated,” he said. “The stream restoration, Kelly Mill Creek has been channelized to where the flow through here, the velocity of the water is too quick. It’s creating issues downstream.”

Once those parts of the work are done, the next step is mass grading later this year before construction starts in the spring.

According to Brumbalow, the plan is to have stores open by August 2021.

“It’s going to be a massive change for the city of Cumming. They’re doing the investment and the dirty work to make it happen for future generations,” Leathers said. “All I can do is applaud Troy and [City Administrator Phil Higgins] and their respective staffs for putting it together.”

 

Cumming City Center
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Wednesday, Aug. 7 for the Cumming City Center, a development planning to feature restaurants, businesses, the Cumming Police Department and a movie theater in an undeveloped area west and northwest of Forsyth Central High School. -photo by Crystal Ledford for the Forsyth County News
city center