Lawrenceville celebrates start of transformative $200M redevelopment

The work to reshape Gwinnett’s county seat is already underway.

As officials, developers and dignitaries gathered Wednesday to celebrate the official start of Lawrenceville's $200 million "SouthLawn" redevelopment project, a nearby parking lot was already filled with the hum of heavy machinery.

“With this development,” Lawrenceville Mayor Judy Jordan Johnson said, “we have a new sense of place.”

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Officials have taken to calling the SouthLawn project the largest redevelopment effort in Gwinnett, no small feat in a county that’s teeming with activity. On the 32-acre site just south of Lawrenceville’s existing downtown square, Novare Group and George Berkow Inc. plan to build a mixed-use concept that will include not only a new town green and 15,000 square feet of retail but some 600 residential units.

Those residences will include “urban-style” apartments, townhouses and traditional single-family homes.

Lawrenceville’s downtown square has become a popular destination for restaurants and shops in recent years — but officials hope the significant influx of new places to live will push things even further.

Wednesday, developer George Berkow said the goal is to create “a more vibrant downtown and a magnet for future growth.”

Said Lawrenceville Councilman David Still: “That’s what bringing in 600 residential units plus is going to do. … It’s going to be fun to watch.”

The SouthLawn project — so named because it’s south of the Lawrenceville Lawn — is one of several ventures currently underway.

The city began work last fall on a $30 million "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 on a significant expansion of Lawrenceville's Aurora Theatre and a corresponding arts and cultural facility.

Near SouthLawn, officials are preserving the original Hooper Renwick School building to create a civic space. The school, which educated black children during segregation, likely will be converted to a museum highlighting African-American history in Gwinnett. Lawrenceville's branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library is also slated to be moved to a brand new facility next door.

Jim Borders, founder of Novare Group, said construction on the SouthLawn project should be full speed ahead by the end of the year. The first units could be on the market by late 2019 or early 2020, though the full project likely won’t be completed until 2021.