By Geoff Smith
Suburban downtown areas are flush with redevelopment these days as cities and developers rush to meet market demands of residents who want to be close to where some action is. Lawrenceville is the latest to double-down on this idea.
A couple years ago, or really any time in the history of the Atlanta metro area, I would have trumpeted what is going on in downtown Lawrenceville as epoch development. But these days, what they are doing is keeping up with what’s going on in other cities like Alpharetta, Sugar Hill, Chamblee, and Sandy Springs. All that said, there are at least three major projects going on in downtown Lawrenceville that will transform a city that already has seen significant downtown development.
The projects include almost 40 acres of mixed-use development and a 2.2-mile linear park that will connect Georgia Gwinnett College with the downtown district, and open up development opportunities along the way.
The biggest project being proposed is a 32-acre development behind the Lawrenceville Lawn Park and around City Hall that would include 600 residential units – 435 multifamily units and 159 single-family and townhouse units. Within that project would also be about 15,000 square feet of retail. Novare Group is the developer and is scheduled to present the project to the city in December, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
Just across the Lawrenceville square and on 7.5 acres that used to be the site of the now demolished Lawrenceville High School(built in 1895), Richport Properties is proposing a $20 million mixed-use development. The project, being called City View, would include 58 single-family homes, townhomes, “cottages” and office space. According to the AJC, the developer is under a purchase-sale agreement with Lawrenceville’s Downtown Development Authority.
The linear park is a significant project, mostly because of the opportunities it will create. This project has been in the planning stages for several years and the city has recently hired Georgia Development Partners to run construction of the project, which is expected to begin next month, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post. In addition to a new two-lane road, the project will include multi-use trails, bike paths, roundabouts and landscaping features. Multiple pocket parks and detention ponds are also shown in the plans – as are spaces for new townhomes, a restaurant, some retail space and a multi-level residential structure.
One of the biggest things this corridor would do is connect the roughly 11,000 students enrolled at Georgia Gwinnett College with the downtown district and the two other projects mentioned in this article. The corridor will also fold in an existing brewery named Slow Pour Brewing Company, and 550 Trackside, a popular event facility housed in the city’s old train station. It should take about a year to demolish some of the buildings in the corridor to make way for the new road and trails. At that point, construction on the new infrastructure is said to begin.
I imagine that retail businesses in downtown Lawrenceville are chomping at the bit to see these projects completed. With almost 660-residential units going in, they will see a significant increase in night-time and weekend customers. And with the office development and the connection to Georgia Gwinnett College, they will see a significant increase in daytime customers during the weeks. It will be a good time to be doing business in Lawrenceville for sure.