Gwinnett County has a wealth of thriving downtown centers, from the urban-planning success story that is Suwanee’s core to the vibrant old retail villages along railroad lines in Buford and Norcross. But the vintage, walkable, organic charm of Lawrenceville’s downtown square—punctuated by the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse, a brick 1885 relic topped with a clock tower—is in another league.
Leaders of Gwinnett’s county seat (population: roughly 32,000) decided several years ago to steer away from Lawrenceville’s vehicle-centric past in favor of a more pedestrian-friendly hub. With a variety of early 20th century storefronts and existing restaurants and boutiques, the bones were in place to create a sort of OTP Decatur. A sign that those plans could be working: Gwinnett’s first brewery, Slow Pour Brewing Company, opened last year in a former warehouse near the square, beside an old depot where Eddie Owen, of Eddie’s Attic fame, hosts Friday night concerts at the Red Clay Music Foundry.
Downtown Lawrenceville hasn’t added many new residences since a smattering of pre-Recession condos, but that’s about to change. Existing houses, primarily bungalows built between 1900 and the 1940s, are being converted back from commercial businesses, fetching prices in the $500,000s. Meanwhile, perched on a downtown hill, a $20-million, live-work project with townhomes called City View is under construction. And the Big Kahuna of pending mixed-use—a nearly $200-million venture called South Lawn, Gwinnett’s largest such redevelopment—is expected to launch this spring.
Who lives here?
Young families and empty-nesters, with more of the latter and more young professionals expected as new townhouses, apartments, and cottages open.
Along with construction, livability is on the rise. Downtown’s one-way streets are being converted to two-way thoroughfares to calm traffic; the award-winning Aurora Theatre is gearing up for a $25-million expansion; and construction recently launched on a two-mile linear park that will link downtown to 13,000 students at Georgia Gwinnett College—the fastest-growing college in the Southeast.
The original downtown housing stock is limited and older.
“I’d say we’re more than thriving. we’re having a renaissance. We’re getting a lot of folks kicking tires, asking about this project and that.”
— Chuck Warbington, Lawrenceville city manager
Crime (Annual odds of becoming a victim in the City Center neighborhood as defined by NeighborhoodScout.com)
Violent crime: 1 in 302
Property crime: 1 in 24
Georgia School Grade
Central Gwinnett High School: C
Crime ratings by NeighborhoodScout.com are based on data collected from more than 18,000 local law enforcement agencies and coded by location. NeighborhoodScout.com is the most widely used neighborhood search engine in the world. It is owned by Location Inc., a leading builder and source of location-based data and tools for businesses and consumers nationwide. NeighborhoodScout areas are based on Census tracts and don’t always exactly mirror neighborhood boundaries.
School grades were provided by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. The office’s Georgia School Grades Reports include “A-F letter grades based on school performance and other useful information about the school, such as performance on statewide assessments, the makeup of the school’s student body, the graduation rate, and additional academic information.” schoolgrades.georgia.gov
This article originally appeared in our February 2018 issue.