Rita Martin recently moved into her new home at Patterson Farms, a 74-acre, mixed commercial and residential community under development on Cleveland Highway in Varnell.

“I purchased my unit last July,” she said. “It’s a two-bedroom unit, very roomy. I customized everything I could customize, and I love it. It’s perfect for me.”

Martin moved to Whitfield County from North Carolina after the death of her husband to be closer to her family.

Melanie Hoenig of Greenwood Developers, one of the partners in Patterson Farms, said she expects the subdivision will attract empty nesters looking to downsize and young professionals looking for room to start a family as well as families looking to upgrade their home.

“I’m really glad we are able to show off what we are doing,” she said during the grand opening of the project last week. She said the development will contain plenty of greenspace for use by Varnell and Whitfield County residents.

She has been working on the project for several years and said she was glad the day of the grand opening had finally arrived.

Seven units are already occupied, and Hoenig said she expected it will be up to 12 by the end of June.

Local officials said they are glad to see Patterson Farms moving along.

“We’ve had a lack of housing,” said Whitfield County Board of Commissioners member Barry Robbins. “We’ve had a particular lack of housing of the quality needed to keep professional folks here. This will help address those shortages. I hope this is the start of something big to address our housing needs.”

Dalton-Whitfield Joint Development Authority Executive Director Carl Campbell said housing, particularly housing for young professionals, is key to economic development.

“When companies look at a location, they want to know where their employees will live,” he said. “Our retail prospects want to know where their customers will live. We need housing desperately. This is the kind of product we need. It will create activity in the rest of our market. People who downsize and move here from another part of the community will open up a bigger house for somebody who needs room to grow. This is going to bring together people from different walks of life. The bottom line is that communities that don’t show growth won’t get growth, and this is going to spur growth.”

The impact will be felt across the county, but especially in Varnell.

“This is going to have a big impact on the city,” said Varnell City Manager Mike Brown. “It’s my understanding it will be 480, 490 homes over eight years. Figure two people to a home, that’s right under 1,000 people. The city population now is just over 2,000, so that’ll be about a 45 or 50% increase in eight years just from this development.”

Some 300 people came to the grand opening, and Mitchell Hollis of Hollis Holdings, the other developer of Patterson Farms, said he was glad to see so many people interested in what they are doing.

“It’s humbling,” he said. “It’s very rewarding.”

Developers said they plan to focus on the history of the farm. John Patterson, the long-time owner of the farm, was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame as a driver and trainer, and at Patterson Farms he trained some of the most successful horses in the history of harness racing.

To find out more about Patterson Farms, visit pattersonfarms.com.

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