History was in the air Thursday night in Old Town Suwanee.
David Pierce, a 79-year-old Suwanee resident, was among those gathered at a business on Main Street. He brought along his sister, Elizabeth Payne, 89.
"The building is in better shape now than when my father bought it," David Pierce said of Pierce's Corner, a vacant brick building a short distance away.
But vacancy no longer is the only option for the building. Officials of the city's Downtown Development Authority announced, after about a year of proposals and discussion, a lease-purchase deal to sell the 6,000-square-foot site to a group led by Norcross attorneys Michael Deming and Michael Deming Jr. Also involved are Chuck Warbington of Gwinnett Village CID and Robert Gresham III.
The building dates to 1910, but the name dates to the 1950s, when David Pierce's father George bought it for $5,000.
That was about the time that David Pierce, who is uncle by marriage to Suwanee mayor-elect Jimmy Burnette, moved to Suwanee. David Pierce remembers that the building housed a dentist's office and a Masonic lodge upstairs.
That's not in the plans of the future owners, though. Deming LLC plans include retail on the ground floor, possibly a restaurant, and office space on the top two floors. The long-term vision is that the site becomes a cornerstone for development in Old Town.
"There was some pushback," Burnette said of the sale and redevelopment of Pierce's Corner. The mayor-elect was among several Suwanee officials at the announcement.
But the deal is set now. Lease-purchase price was $258,640, according to a city news release, with Deming LLC having the right to fully purchase in the first 22 years of an agreement.
"We sought a unique proposition that would spur creative ideas and ultimately enhance the visibility of Old Town and the city as a whole," said Alison Starnes, Downtown and Business Development Manager for the city.
Construction could begin in the spring, with a 10-12 month timetable for finishing, said consultant Kirby Glaze, who has a history of renovating historic properties. Plans include design to achieve LEED certification, such as parking for bicycles and fuel-efficient vehicles, using solar panels, and collecting rainwater for landscaping.
"These are not easy properties to do, but they have their own rewards," Glaze said.