Downtown Lawrenceville Featured in AJC

Downtown Lawrenceville, Georgia, for which TSW created master plan and designed the Cornerstone Square project, was recently featured in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Lawrenceville glad for mixed-use site
by Gracie Bonds Staples
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Saturday, March 07, 2009

Lawrenceville City Councilwoman Marie Beiser gushes about this weekend’s opening of the Cornerstone on the Square.

“It’s the biggest thing going right now,” she says.

The mixture of condos, townhomes, restaurants and shops, the brainchild of developer Emory Morsberger, promises upscale city living with small-town charm.

It is part of a movement to create pedestrian-friendly communities and at the same time revitalize suburban downtowns in the metro area. The recently completed Cornerstone on the Square consists of 12 condos, 17 townhomes, four courtyard carriage houses and 9,000 square feet of retail space. About a third of the residential homes are under contract or have been sold. The retail space is still vacant.

“The goal is to create a place where people can walk to the theater, restaurants, stores and work,” said Morsberger.

But are suburbanites, who left big cities for wide-open spaces, buying into the live/work concept?

Dan Reuter, land use chief of the Atlanta Regional Commission, said the concept has become a trend for a lot of reasons, including the fact that people are living longer and want to downsize after their children have left the nest.

Mixed-use developments, he said, have been popping up across metro Atlanta at least since the 1990s.

“Since then over the last 10 years, there have been a whole lot of local governments in the suburbs —- Duluth, Norcross, Suwanee —- that have opened retail developments with condos and townhomes around them,” he said.

Similar projects exist in the cities of Woodstock, Smyrna and Covington, and in Forsyth County.

Cornerstone, the first of several residential projects slated for downtown Lawrenceville, is located a block from the Gwinnett County Government and Justice Center and within a mile of both the Gwinnett Medical Center and Georgia Gwinnett College.

Morsberger said the $15 million project offers a better quality of life for residents.

“It’s healthier, more energy efficient and more secure than living on your own in a secluded house,” he said.

Although sales at some developments have slowed significantly, Ginny Bryant, director of sales and marketing for the Providence Group, a home construction company, said she has seen a huge increase over the past six weeks in the number of people looking and making purchases.

Of the Providence Group’s two projects in Lawrenceville, only Three Bridges, which opened in 2005, is struggling, she said.

Only 35 percent of the project’s 283 units have sold. At the 202-unit Villages at Huncrest, only 15 are vacant, she said.

The historical living pattern in Gwinnett, Morsberger said, is a house on each acre, but that’s not the most efficient way to live.

“Most people in Gwinnett have to drive to everything. People who live here won’t,” he said.