News from Around the State: District 1, Growth and Housing Remain Top Issues

Spotlight on District 1 – Growth and Housing Remain Top Issues

By Richard Osborne AICP, District 1 Director, Bartow County staff

Northwest Georgia (District 1) continues to quickly grow based on factors of location and infrastructure (I-75, CSX rail line between Atlanta and Chattanooga, multiple four-lane State routes, etc.) as well as quality community leadership. Industrial and housing growth go hand in hand in this area as there continues to be significant growth in matters related to solar panels, electric vehicles, logistics, data centers, and other sectors. The State legislature for the 2024 session has been working to officially designate a portion of Northwest Georgia as the Northwest Georgia Logistics Corridor. 

However, the 15 counties that form the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission area make up much more than just the I-75 corridor. The area includes scenic rural mountain communities such as Blue Ridge, Ellijay, Summerville, Chatsworth, and Trenton. The mountain communities face challenges with short-term rentals, skyrocketing housing and property values, and growth in areas that previously may have been fairly quiet as work-from-home families choose to live far from urban areas but can still complete needed job duties and seek greater opportunities for recreation and country living. 

Polk County Courthouse
Source: Explore Georgia 2024

The workhorses of the region continue to be communities like Cartersville, Rome, Dalton, Calhoun, and Cedartown. In this fast-growing area, however, many of the non-county seats have seen population increases, including Emerson, Rockmart, Fort Oglethorpe, Bremen, Eton, and Hiram. 

As significant new industrial announcements have been made in multiple Northwest Georgia communities, the demand for housing continues to grow. Younger families may be open to more housing options such as townhomes, small lot home developments, infill development, mixed residential developments with sections of homes as well as multifamily, and more – and it shows, with demand increasing for larger residential units on smaller amounts of land. Please see this example of residential plans for a new mixed residential community in Bartow County, the Bartow County Village Concept.

During the last year, there have been numerous State Development of Regional Impact (DRI) submittals in the Northwest Georgia area, including:

Cedartown New Facility
Source: Solarcycle Company Website, February 2024

  • Cedartown: Solarcycle Inc proposes to construct a new manufacturing facility located at Cedartown North Business Park, a Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development (GRAD) certified site in Cedartown. The plant, which will be the first of SOLARCYCLE’s facilities to manufacture glass in addition to recycling solar panels, is scheduled to begin construction in 2024 and will be operational in 2026. SOLARCYCLE will create full-time jobs in manufacturing, engineering, management, research and design, and support staff.
  • Rockmart: Planned Residential Development on property located off Noland Road and Brock Road in Rockmart, Georgia. The site is approximately 90 acres and will be developed with 198 single family residential lots and 88 townhome units with dedicated green space. The proposed density is 3.18 units per acre.
  • Rockmart: Planned Residential Development on property located off Cartersville Highway in Rockmart, Georgia. The site is approximately 26 acres and will be developed with 203 single family residential lots with approximately 9 acres of green space.
  • Cartersville: Development of the Switch KEEP 2.0 north campus of 126 Acres with a single data center facility approximately 1620 ft. in length along with associated driveways, detention ponds, and an electrical substation.
  • Jasper: Mass grade project, proposing 173 residential townhomes.
  • Bartow County: SK Battery America Inc. electric vehicle battery manufacturing facility. Total project size 3.3 million sqft.

Northwest Georgia, from Buchanan up to LaFayette; from Cartersville up to Ringgold; and from Jasper up to Blue Ridge, continues to thrive with increases in housing, tourism, and industrial activity. The interesting challenge for these communities continues to be how to balance demand for growth with the needs of existing residents and property owners.