TSW Design Weds Old and New in Downtown Norcross

The Atlanta Journal Constitutionran a feature on a downtown project for Norcross, Georgia, developed by Hedgewood Properties and designed by TSW. The project is planned for a 12-acre industrial site on the edge of Norcross’ renovated downtown.

Developer aims to wed the old, new in Norcross
By Matthew C. Quinn
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Hedgewood Properties, meet Norcross, Georgia.

The Cumming-based builder, known for high-end residential developments in the northern Atlanta suburbs, is about to launch its first project in Gwinnett County.

The $10 million development will comprise 17 single-family detached homes, 103 townhouses and 38 condominiums, to be built on a 12-acre industrial site on the edge of Norcross’ renovated downtown.

Streetscapes, sidewalks, pocket parks and attention to architectural details will be the hallmark of the new development, as in the company’s other projects along the Ga. 400 corridor.

Hedgewood has been the talk of the 133-year-old town.

“Half want it and half don’t,” said Bill Luebben, owner of Northern Star Coffee House, a popular gathering place for Norcross residents.

“There’s a contingent that like it the way it’s always been. There’s a group that wants to see Norcross go on the map and become another Virginia-Highland,” he said, referring to a lively intown Atlanta neighborhood.

But, Leubben said, a middle ground has emerged during two years of deliberations by the city over a rezoning application and will hopefully “keep the best of Norcross while getting some growth.”

The development will be pedestrian-friendly and designed to be part of the existing community, with no walls or gates around it. The buildings will be stone and brick, with two-car garages facing rear alleys. Homes will sell for between $200,000 and $500,000.

Don Donnelly, co-owner of Hedgewood with his wife, Pam Sessions, said the 20-year-old construction firm has been approached by several Gwinnett County communities hoping to create Mayberry-like downtowns as an alternative to suburban sprawl. Norcross fits Hedgewood’s profile. The company has a similar project under way in downtown Woodstock in Cherokee County, and a self-contained 214-acre community in Forsyth County called Vickery.

“Norcross is a little more urban,” Donnelly said. “It’s got the historic buildings and restaurants. What it needs is people. People want to live there. We want to provide places where people don’t have to drive.”

Opinion in Norcross has been divided. The town has grown from 5,900 residents to almost 9,000 in the past 12 years. But the Hedgewood development would contain the first townhouses — a dirty word for many longtime residents — in the historic district, now populated with restaurants and antique shops. A renovated railroad station houses a cafe.

Tom Day, a retiree who has lived three blocks from the Hedgewood site for 17 years, said he doesn’t buy the argument that Hedgewood will increase property values. “I’d rather see more expensive homes,” he said.

Last week, the Norcross City Council approved rezoning that will allow the construction to go forward.

Norcross Mayor Lillian Webb says she’s glad the project can proceed. She came away from a visit to the traditionally inspired Vickery, Hedgewood’s development in Forsyth County, very impressed.

“People will be able to walk and won’t have to get into their cars,” Webb said. Property values and city revenues will be boosted, and the downtown will benefit from a high-quality development, the mayor said.

“It was a no-brainer.”