Three Years On
An Atlanta suburb's downtown development plan is bearing fruit
"I think we're on the cusp of a new wave of development standards that are coming about... [people] want something other than subdivisions." George Berkow, a developer working in the Atlanta suburb of Lawrenceville, told the Gwinnett Daily Post that the city's downtown renaissance is well underway. Hundreds of units of multifamily housing, mostly in buildings that also have retail or restaurant components, are making downtown Lawrenceville into one of Metro Atlanta's most vibrant places.
City officials have taken the lead on making sure that developers, new businesses, and prospective residents are made to feel welcome. "They said, 'Please come, you're welcome here,'"Berkow said of Lawrenceville's leaders. "I have developed in Roswell, Alpharetta, downtown Atlanta, and believe me, what you get there is not 'You're welcome with open arms.' It's 'Go away.' So it was incredibly refreshing to find [a city] council that said 'We want you here.'"
With many new businesses opening, the residential market booming, and more projects on the way, Downtown Lawrenceville may have reached a tipping point. While its success can likely be attributed to factors including the Atlanta metro's continued growth, the strength of the national economy, and generational shifts, some of the renaissance's underlying features may be traced to RKG's Downtown Economic Development Plan, issued for the City and Downtown Development Authority in 2015. The Plan examined the market feasibility of several development types including mixed residential and retail, and built conceptual development programs for infill sites in the downtown. Several of the Plan's recommendations focused on retaining and expanding Downtown's employment base. The final report was the culmination of a collaborative process that involved city officials, business owners, and a wide array of downtown stakeholders.
City of Lawrenceville