Live, Work, Play at Watkinsville’s First Food Hall

WATKINSVILLE, GA–In partnership with the city of Watkinsville and Oconee County, the former Southwire manufacturing plant will be transformed into Watkinsville’s first food hall to be targeted at families in the city.

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Wire park is Watkinsville’s first food hall. The land development is shown within the circle but extends to the right side and behind for some of the housing that will come later next year. (Photo/Google Maps)

The revitalized redevelopment of Southwire industrial park is slated to be remodeled as a food and shopping market for the families of Watkinsville and the surrounding Athens area to eat, play, and work. about:blank

Wire Park, a 66-acre commercial and residential development, is set to open in 2022 with the opening of 56 condominium flats, 53 single family homes, and 21 townhomes. Residents of Watkinsville and students and families in the Athens area can enjoy the new market as well. 

Along with everything that it has to offer, the developers of Wire Park have set apart some of the property for the new location for the Oconee County Library. 

The new development is similar to Ponce City Market in Atlanta, or other developments in and around metro Atlanta. These types of community food, retail, and work centers are becoming more popular as a place to congregate as a family or community.

“There is something for everyone to do. The kids can go to the library for story time while the parents can go get some coffee or get a meal.” said Mayor Brian Brodrick. 

The library is expected to be a huge draw for families to this area as well as the one and a half acre wide open green space that sits in front. 

“I’m excited for the library to be over there- we love taking advantage of kid friendly events and with a new space it’ll be even easier.” said Laura Bayne, Watkinsville resident and Development and Alumni Relations Coordinator for the School of Public & International Affairs at the University of Georgia. 

There is something for every kind of family which is important because this town previously has not had a place for people to gather on a regular basis in this capacity. 

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Development is underway as the infrastructure of Southwire is being reconfigured to house the dining, retail, and work space. (Photo/Jameson Keasler,

Wire Park is the reconstruction of an old wire manufacturing plant that through the years has gone by many names. Calling back to its roots as a wire manufacturing plant, Wire Park will sit in the place that has previously been known as Anaconda, which was renamed a couple times finally being sold and renamed Southwire before closing their doors. For years, the old plant sat vacant but with renovation and construction under way, the new development will be ready for families to enjoy soon. 

“I’m excited because it’s an opportunity to transform a space that has been out of use into an exciting and vibrant attraction. I know it’ll bring even more to the Watkinsville area as far as destinations and events which means growth for the city and its business owners.” said Bayne.

There is no doubt that the renovation is well thought out and it will bring vibrance to a previously vacant space but some residents are curious what the community response will turn out to be. Located off Barnett Shoals road, Wire Park is optimal for downtown residents and others who live close to the heart of Watkinsville, but feels out of the way for many other neighboring towns. While many residents are excited, some are curious about what Wire Park is actually going to be. 

“It is exciting but I’m also curious and I’m just waiting to see what it’s actually going to be.” said Paul Taylor Smith, Oconee resident and part of the team building a similar development called the Oconee Enterprise.

There are other concerns about Wire Park. One of the biggest concerns is the congestion on main street that this might bring. Watkinsville sees a lot of truck traffic from south Georgia especially through Main Street.

While this is a concern that is being addressed, the city and the developers are working to widen roads, create multiple entrances, and redirect the flow of traffic so that the city can continue to thrive. 

Duke Gibbs, the head of the project at Gibbs Capital talks mostly about what this can bring for people of all walks of life. There are plans for family movie nights on the weekends, community reading at the library, and more throughout the week.

There is so much to offer in Watkinsville but Wire Park is going to be a community of “Live, work, play” as Gibbs puts it.

People all across Watkinsville are going to have one place where they can come together at any point in the week where they are sure that something is going on for everyone in the family.