Actual Factual Gwinnett: What the heck's going on in downtown Duluth?

This is "Actual Factual Gwinnett," a regular column in which I, Tyler Estep, answer reader questions about Gwinnett happenings and history. Read previous editions by clicking the hyperlinks at the bottom of this column, where you'll also find information for submitting your own questions. Enjoy!

Reader Anna M. recently asked:

"What is going on with downtown Duluth? SO much demolition and destruction!"

Oh Anna – do I have an answer for you. what's going on? A lot's going on. A whole lot. A whole, whole lot of development is what's going on. Nearly $300 million worth.

Out with the details, Estep! What we've got on our hands in Duluth is a developmental reckoning, pure and simple. Hundreds and hundreds of new single- and mult-family residences, a ton of new restaurants, one of those high-end grocery stores Gwinnett seems to love -- and a whole lot more.

Let's start with The Block at Parsons Alley: Last month, I reported on the official (but approximate) opening date for Dreamland Bar-B-Que's new location in Duluth, the 6,500 square-foot rib joint destined for the corner of Main and Lawrenceville streets. That's just part of "The Block," a 30,000 square-foot restaurant (and retail) district surrounding Duluth's Village Green.

The Block at Parsons Alley.

Dreamland hopes to open sometime in June, along with the project's public plaza and common area. We also know that O4W Pizza, which has made quite a name for itself in intown Atlanta, will be opening soon in the nearby former home of Steverino's, and that a high-end chocolatier has plans to move into the former Best of Brews location listed on the map above.

No other tenants have been announced. Duluth's economic development director, Chris McGahee, said recently that some tenants could begin interior buildouts by September, and that most buildings should be "substantially complete" in about a year.

"The Parsons Alley development will use [the exisiting] picturesque stone church and its parsonage as the starting point for a collection of carefully selected restaurants and shops surrounding an inviting plaza witht festive lighting and public art," according to the development's website.

But wait, there's more! At the nearby intersection of Buford and Duluth highways, The Residential Group has been approved for a development that would include 371 multi-family units -- including a live-work concept -- and street-facing retail.

Pulte Residential has also already begun work on a 109-home development on the back side of downtown.

And that's not all! Apologies for the repeated exclamation points, but there's even more coming. Just down the road, on the western side of Peacthree Industrial Boulevard and Sugarloaf Parkway, a mixed-use development is sprouting up -- pun intended. The 31-acre project from Fuqua Development will include 330 luxury apartments and 75,000 square feet of retail, including a Sprouts Farmers Market.

Sugarloaf Marketplace.

As you can see in the photo above, dated Jan. 30, work is already well underway. According to Fuqua's website, the development is expected to open sometime this spring.

All of the projects are in addition to ongoing sidewalk and traffic improvements, as well as the addition of a new middle school, McGahee said.

"It's a massive beehive of construction," he said.

Truer words have never been spoken.


I, Tyler Estep, am a staff writer with the AJC and a Gwinnett County native. To submit “Actual Factual Gwinnett” questions, contact me at, @ByTylerEstep on Twitter or via the form below.

In the meantime, read the column’s previous installments:

Explore»Where did the "Success Lives Here" towers go?
Explore»Which Hollywood actress used to own a Gwinnett city?
Explore»What’s that statue atop the Mall of Georgia?
Explore»A serial killer shot Hustler publisher Larry Flynt…in Gwinnett?

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