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Dec 14, 2018

Suwanee highlights downtown growth as Solis Town Center opens

Suwanee’s Town Center is turning 15 this month, and like any teenager, the city’s downtown center is undergoing a major growth spurt.

The Town Center, which is located at the intersection of Buford Highway, Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road and Suwanee Dam Road, opened its doors in December 2003. It was a large scale public-private partnership with a new City Hall, a park, an amphitheater, shops, restaurants, residences and space for public art.

And, after a decade and a half, city officials say the center remains a key part of the Suwanee community.

“Suwanee’s downtown is currently a wonderful mix of restaurants, retail, offices and recreational greenspace,” Suwanee Downtown Development Manager Adam Edge said in a statement from the city. “Town Center is not just another new large mixed-use development; it is a key part of our beloved and well-established downtown.”

But, while city officials are still singing the Town Center’s praises, there have been other projects that have either been built, are currently being built or are on the drawing board for the surrounding area.

The most evident sign of the new growth in the Town Center area is the recent opening of the first part of the Solis Town Center development. It is located immediately southwest of the original Town Center and combines residential and commercial spaces along Buford Highway.

Part of the development is still under construction, but residents began moving into a finished part of the project last month.

“Solis Town Center provides us with further opportunities to enhance the restaurant and retail mix, which will only add to our already vibrant downtown experience,” Edge said.

Another sign of downtown Suwanee’s current growth is the impending opening of the Heartis Senior Living development that overlooks Suwanee Dam Road and is preparing to open.

Heartis is expected to have about 175 independent living, memory care and assisted units on 10 acres, Caddis Healthcare Real Estate said when it announced plans for the Heartis Suwanee project in February 2017.

“Everything about the new Heartis Suwanee community, including the beautiful grounds, first-class finishes and fun daily activities, will be designed to appeal to those who want to live a fulfilling, rewarding life,” Caddis Senior Vice President of Senior Living Katie Kleinsmith Csobaji said at the time.

There are other projects in the works for the downtown area as well.

The city is also working on $11 million enhancements on Buford Highway between McGinnis Ferry Road and George Pierce Park that will include a roundabout at Russell Street, a 10-foot wide bikeway and greenway, 10-foot wide sidewalks, landscaped medians, benches and retail and housing directly along the road to promote walkability.

The work is expected to wrap up next year.

The city is also working to turn 25 acres of property known as the DeLay land into Town Center Park West. It will be located behind the Suwanee library and Playtown Suwanee on Suwanee Dam Road and will include a terrace plaza, public art, sandpit volleyball courts and 15 acres of undisturbed woodland.

Suwanee leaders are particularly excited about the $46 million Solis development, which they have dubbed “Town Center Part II,” however.

This project, like the original Town Center project, is a public-private partnership that includes 240 luxury apartments, 71 for-sale town homes, 12,000-square-feet of retail and restaurant space and a four-story parking garage.

Officials said the groundwork and vision for what would eventually become Solis date as far back as Suwanee’s Old Town Master Plan from 2002. The city bought the undeveloped land next to the original Town Center in anticipation of eventually going forward with this development.

“We have a proven track record with Town Center of master planning our vision and then working with the private sector to implement that vision,” Suwanee City Manager Marty Allen said in a statement. “We’re confident that this project will add depth and energy that not only physically extends Town Center but also further enhances the Town Center experience.”

Unlike more traditional suburban apartment complexes that are further back away from major roadways, Solis Town Center has an urban layout lining Buford Highway with street-level retail storefronts.

Parking is located behind the buildings, pushing them out close to the street. It’s a layout that is matched by The Shoppes at Olde Towne, which is located across Buford Highway from Solis and is already home to several businesses.

“This project is a prime example of the forethought it takes to create a truly impactful and visionary project,” Suwanee Mayor Jimmy Burnette said in a statement. “I’m really proud to have broken ground on this project as it represents a significant step our community is taking toward further realizing its vision of having a vibrant, connected, and pedestrian-oriented downtown.”