Developers of Wire Park, a 66-acre residential and commercial development in Watkinsville, announced recently the company had sold all of the project’s office space.
The development on the site of a former industrial plant includes the new Oconee County Library, and businesses ranging from restaurants to beauty salons and an indoor baseball training facility for youth.
“The timing was good,” said Duke Gibbs, CEO of Gibbs Capital, which is developing the project on Barnett Shoals Road just blocks from downtown.
“A lot of local businesses are growing and looking for more space and Wire Park is 225,000 square feet. We chopped it up into about 35 different spaces ranging from 1,000 square feet to 3,400 square feet to meet anybody’s needs,” Gibbs said.
“I think local businesses are finding value at being part of a larger mix of uses. When it’s time to take a lunch break, rather than having to get in a car and drive somewhere, they can walk across the hall to a restaurant,” he said.
A decision by the Athens Regional Library System to locate Oconee’s new library at Wire Park “had a huge impact on the businesses deciding to relocate,” Gibbs said.
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Among those moving into Wire Park is Golden Pantry, which is shifting its corporate headquarters into Wire Parks.
Golden Pantry President Robert Griffith said Friday that he and his team are excited about the move to Watkinsville, where it has two stores.
A few other businesses who have signed contracts to move to Wire Park are All Bright Electric, BOE Classic Lending Group, Budget Blinds of Lake Oconee and Athens, Clockwork Heating & Air, Connect Ministries and Gibbs Capital.
The library could begin construction this year as library officials will soon award a bid to an architect. Wire Park donated the shell for the library and will take care of site development around the library, including the parking lot, according to Gibbs.
The second, residential phase could begin later this year.
“We actually have a tremendous amount of interest in the residential condominiums,” Gibbs said.
The condos include two- and three-bedroom flats attractive to “empty-nesters” and retirees, he said.
“There are a lot of people who actually live in Oconee County that want to stay,” he said, adding those people often have a large house on acreage they no longer need for raising a family.
The residential facet of Wire Park will take longer to build out because it also includes 21 townhouses and 53 single-family homes, Gibbs said.
Also planned is a food hall, where a common space is shared by several restaurants.
“We’ll call it The Grid. There will be 10 stations with the larger dining space where the restaurateur has an order station and a 400-square-foot kitchen,” Gibbs said.
Developers also announced that a 28,710-square-foot indoor baseball training facility is included.
“The Yard at Wire Park” is youth-oriented and focused on baseball with individual and group training, batting cages, pitching bullpens and a store for baseball gear, according to Gibbs.
“The thing I’m most excited about with this project is we’re putting a lot of energy and money into the common greenspace that we hope will be used by the public for events,” he said.
There could be music one weekend at the pavilion and a family movie night the next, he noted.
A Christmas event was held at the site last year.
“About 2,000 people showed up. It showed the community wants a place where people can gather,” Gibbs said.
The location was originally the site of Anaconda, a wire and cable plant built about 60 years ago that became a major employer in Oconee. It was later sold to Southwire, which eventually closed the plant.