by: Jim Strickland Updated:DALLAS, Ga. —
A metro Atlanta county once listed among the fastest growing in the nation is looking for a new path to prosperity.
At the height of the building craze in 2005, Paulding County permitted 3,000 house starts. Last year, the number dropped to 125.
"We were in the unfortunate position of having about 10,000 of these lots in some stage of construction," said County Administrator Mike Jones.
Jones told Channel 2's Jim Strickland the county is now encouraging commercial and industrial development on land once targeted for housing.
More than 1,000 former house lots have been converted to other uses. The new Wellstar Paulding Hospital sits on a failed 47-acre subdivision.
A new middle school took up 58 defunct housing lots. Some of the remaining lots are right across the street. In another former subdivision, crews have poured concrete for the southeast headquarters of a company that rents out movie trailers.
Economic development director Jamie Gilbert said the county has a second deal in the works.
"That's in the digital media business that's looking to build a 50,000-square foot facility which will employ 70 associates," said Gilbert.
Paulding's dismal tax digest is also on the comeback. Assessments had dropped 30 percent over the last three years.
“A recent meeting with our tax assessor indicates that we've leveled out. This is the first year out of the last four that we'll either be flat or slightly positive,” Jones said.