$200M ‘urban-style’ development just part of big plans in Lawrenceville

The city of Lawrenceville announced Thursday developers’ plans to build a $200 million, “urban-style” mixed-use project near the Gwinnett County seat’s downtown square.

Officials are calling it “the largest redevelopment project in Gwinnett” — and it’s just one part of the city’s big plans for the future.

“There’s a lot of pent up demand for walkable downtown communities with historic character, and we have kind of been on the tail end with redevelopment as opposed to other cities,” Lawrenceville City Manager Chuck Warbington said. “[But] we have incredible leadership and everybody knows where we’re going. We just see all the stars aligning.”

The project announced Thursday, slated to be developed by George Berkow Inc. and Novare Group, will go up on about 32 acres just south of Lawrenceville’s town lawn — property that currently holds most of the city’s public works facilities, which will soon move to a new $20 million building about a mile away on West Pike Street.

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The so-called “South Lawn” development is expected to offer more than 600 residential units, including “urban-style, three- and four-story apartments and townhomes,” single-family homes and about 100 “age-targeted” residences. Plans also call for about 15,000 square feet of retail space and a new “town green” in the middle of a central promenade.

“The member of our team responsible for this development executed similar developments in Roswell and Johns Creek, and we have taken the best of those concepts and incorporated them into the fabric of the Lawrenceville town center development,” Novare Group founder Jim Borders said in a news release.

Lawrenceville City Hall will border the development to the west, and the Lawrenceville Police Department will do the same on the east. To the immediate south will be the Hooper Renwick School, an historic facility that educated Gwinnett’s black children before its schools were integrated.

Just last week, city officials vowed to preserve the original school building and create a “civic space,” which is likely to include a museum highlighting African-American history in Gwinnett. Lawrenceville’s branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library will also be moved to a brand new facilty built next door.

Other huge projects are being undertaken in the city too.

It announced earlier this week that work will soon begin on a $30 million project to create a “college corridor,” a 2.2-mile linear park connecting the Georgia Gwinnett College campus to downtown. It will eventually include bike paths, multi-use trails and a new two-lane road.

Another $30 million is being spent for a significant expansion of Lawrenceville’s Aurora Theatre and a corresponding arts and cultural facility.

For years — if not decades — various Gwinnett cities have talked about redeveloping their downtown areas to make them more walkable and modern, and many have done so in a big way in recent years.

A large mixed-use development with restaurants and shops is under construction, and partially open, in downtown Duluth. The city of Sugar Hill is building an “EpiCenter” that will hold a theater and other commercial and community space, with a new hotel also in the works down the street. Norcross, Suwanee and Lilburn, among others, have also taken big steps.

Lawrenceville is now officialy getting into the act.

In other Gwinnett news:

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