LA Fitness replacing long-vacant dollar theater strip mall in Gwinnett

Courtesy City of Lawrenceville

Courtesy City of Lawrenceville

A vacant Lawrenceville strip mall formerly anchored by a dollar movie theater will be razed to make way for a new LA Fitness.

The new development at 899 Grayson Highway is another step towards redeveloping the area around Lawrenceville’s historic downtown, City Manager Chuck Warbington said. The project, approved by City Council in February, will result in a 40,000-square-foot fitness facility with a swimming pool and basketball courts.

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The shopping center’s movie theater closed 10 years ago, and no businesses currently operate in any of the smaller units. In recent years it became a “blight” on the city, Warbington said.

“There’s been issues with code enforcement, issues with vagrants,” Warbington said. “To see it [replaced] with a new facility of this magnitude is great.”

The location is a half mile from downtown Lawrenceville and about a mile from Gwinnett County’s elections office, where early voting is held.

The new gym is another step in Lawrenceville’s “renaissance,” Warbington said.

Much of the current interest from developers is focused on residential buildings in downtown Lawrenceville. There hasn’t been a new residential development downtown in “decades,” Warbington said. One addition will be SouthLawn, a massive mixed-use development that has been compared to Alpharetta’s Avalon. The $200 million project will bring 600 residential units — apartments, townhomes and single-family homes — and 15,000 square feet of retail space to Clayton Street, near City Hall and the Lawrenceville Police Department’s headquarters. Ground was broken in July and the project will be completed “in phases” over five years, city spokeswoman Lisa Sherman previously said.

The LA Fitness project is a “confirmation” that the city’s development strategies are working, Warbington said.

“There was a plan in place, we followed the plan and now we’re seeing old buildings go away and making room for new,” Warbington said.

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