Suwanee Formally Applies for Historic District in Old Town
Opposition becomes visible along Main Street.
City of Suwanee officials have formally applied for federal Historic District status for a part of Old Town.
And opposition has surfaced along Main Street, the area's main thoroughfare.
Denise Brinson, economic development director at City Hall, noted that the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) formally submitted its application to the state Department of Natural Resources this month. The city had gotten a preliminary "thumbs up" during the summer.
National Register Historic District status is seen as essential to completion of the lease-purchase deal for the historic Pierce's Corner building, which is owned by the DDA. And Pierce's Corner is seen as a catalyst for further redevelopment in Old Town.
However, some Old Town residents are not pleased. Several homeowners on Main Street have posted signs in their front yards to indicate their opposition to National Register status. (See attached photo).
-- How do you feel about a national Historic District in Old Town Suwanee? Would you like to see that area go commercial? Tell us in the comments below.
Main Street property owner Linda Fleming presented City Council a petition in September that contained the signatures of seven homeowners on Main Street who desired to be excluded from a historic district.
However, Brinson indicated that a petition to City Council is not part of the state's review process. Eventually, all residents in the proposed district would be asked for comment by state officials.
The entire review process by state officials could take 18 months to two years. However, development of Pierce's Corner could begin before formal approval.
Norcross attorney Michael Deming Sr. leads a group that has the $258,000 lease-purchase deal for Pierce's Corner, which dates to 1910. He has said that the tax credits from a historic district are essential to completing the sale.
Deming, who is working with his son Michael Deming Jr., envisions a restaurant on the lower level. Also, he would like a so-called business incubator for start-ups on the upper level of the vacant building, which sits across from the red caboose on Main Street.
Also, Brinson notes that the city's long-term plan for downtown (which includes Old Town) supports commercial and residential uses. The Creative Clayhouse, which is near Pierce's Corner, is a commercial use -- and as income-producing property, it would also become eligible for tax credits in a historic district.
Everett's Music Barn co-owner Jennifer Falk has called a historic district a "godsend."
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