Snellville’s long-awaited ‘Grove’ downtown district starting to take shape

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is providing this content as part of our public service mission. Please support real, local journalism by subscribing today. For decades, the idea of a mixed-use downtown district in the heart of Snellville was only a dream in the minds of city leaders. But that has changed in the last year. Dirt has been turned, concrete has been poured, and steel and wood frames as well as brick walls have begun to rise out of the ground between Oak Road, Wisteria Drive, Clower Street and North Road. These are tangible signs that the dream has begun to turn into a reality known as The Grove at Towne Center. “It seems surreal that we have been talking and planning about this for development for years and to see it finally start to come out of the ground has me at a loss for words,” Snellville Mayor Barbara Bender said. “It’s an amazing feeling and we are approaching a moment we have waited decades for.” Since ground was broken on The Grove at Towne Center last year, a lot has happened at the site. The development is very important for the city because it will give Snellville something it’s never had before: a downtown district. Snellville is working with CASTO and MidCity Real Estate Partners on the project, which is expected to cost about $85 million. The 750-space parking deck has topped out and is now in its “punch list phase.” Meanwhile, a 262-unit luxury apartment community which is being built around the parking deck has been rising out of the ground — there are some parts of the apartment community that are already getting exterior finishes. “I know the ones that they’re already starting to do stone mason work on, they’re hoping to have those available to rent by the end of this year, and I think they hope to have the space fully rented — or at least available to fully rent — by (mid-2023),” Assistant City Manager Matt Pepper said. At the end of last year, Snellville and Gwinnett County officials broke ground on a new, two-story library that will have a co-working space on its second floor and its steel frame has already been erected. The city is leasing the second floor from the county. Pepper said Snellville is working with a co-working company that is expected to fill much of the floor. He hesitated to say, on the record, who the company is since he was not sure the company had made an official announcement yet. “We’re working with that co-working company’s engineer to kind of develop and build that space out,” Pepper said. The developers of The Grove at Towne Center have expanded their plans for the site — but they aren’t expanding its foot print. Two mixed-use, two-story buildings that will have ground-level retail have been redesigned to be three stories tall so additional residential units can be added. “There will be one (building) at the corner of Wisteria and Clower, that’s where we’ll be installing the roundabout,” Pepper said. “And then the other one will be (further up Clower Street heading toward Oak Road).” City officials said the change will add 26 more residential units to the site. Conceptual renderings show two restaurants and three retail shops on the ground level of one building and three commercial spaces on the ground level of the other building. Those renderings only show one-side of each building, however, and they are conceptual so it’s not clear yet how far back the actual ground-level businesses on those buildings will ultimately go. In a statement,...

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Snellville completes first structure for new town center

Snellville has finished constructing the first of several structures that will be part of the first $95 million phase of its de facto downtown. City officials gathered this month to celebrate a “topping-out” ceremony for the 750-space parking garage that will be part of The Grove at Towne Center. The $12 million structure sits at the corner of Wisteria Drive and North Road, providing easy access to the new apartments and library branch being built. “We are continually amazed at the transformation of Snellville’s skyline as construction at The Grove at Towne Center continues,” Mayor Barbara Bender said in a news release. The Grove, developed by CASTO and MidCity Real Estate Partners, is expected to open in late 2022. The 18-acre project will include more than 50,000 square feet of retail, restaurant, office and entertainment space between Oak Road, Wisteria Drive, North Road and Clower Street. The new two-story branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library and about 250 units of luxury apartments are included in the development plans. The apartments will surround the deck on three sides and feature an ornamental glass staircase with views of the library, mercantile retail space and Town Green. This article first appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on December 10, 2021 by Tyler...

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Snellville building its ‘heart’ with Towne Center project

If Snellville were to be compared to a body, then city officials are working on creating the thing that will give it life.   A heart. Or municipal version of a heart: a downtown.   That is what Snellville officials see as being the driving force behind The Grove at Towne Center project that broke ground earlier this year. The project will see the creation of a downtown district within walking distance of City Hall, with restaurants, retail, event space, green space, a new library and luxury apartments.   “Snellville has never had a heart, a center and that was the vision all along: to build a town center, a downtown (and) base it, as much as possible, in a lot of our history,” City Manager Butch Sanders said.   As far as development in Snellville is concerned, The Grove at Towne Center is the project that city officials are solely focused on right now. The city is working with CASTO and MidCity Real Estate Partners on the $85 million, 18-acre project.   Although construction is just now starting, the Grove at Towne Center project has been in the works in Snellville for about two decades. The first phase is between North and Oak roads, Clower Street and Wisteria Drive, and it is expected to open in late fall 2022.   The project is, in a way, Snellville’s version of what other Gwinnett cities, such as Suwanee, Sugar Hill, Duluth, Lilburn and Lawrenceville, have done to either expand and redevelop existing downtown areas or to build a downtown that did not exist before.   “I think it gives the city the downtown identity that it’s never had,” Mayor Barbara Bender said. “You know, the center of Snellville, the downtown was always the intersection at 78 and 124 and, of course, that’s gone and paved over, so the first thing we get out of it is a downtown identity.   “And, I think economic development-wise, it’s just going to be huge having a high quality project, or a high quality area in southern Gwinnett County.”   The biggest visible sign of what is to come at the site, aside from the large dirt patch that now exists, is the foundations of the more than 250 luxury apartment complex. One of the staircase towers for the complex is rising out of the ground near Oak Road.   Eventually, the development will have the apartments with a parking deck, two free standing restaurants, a two-story market and events center with restaurants and event space, at least two buildings with commercial space and a green space with a small performing stage that can supplement the Snellville Town Green and host smaller events.   The city is also planning to put in a splash pad, as well as digital kiosks that visitors can play games on, at the green space. The green space is in addition to the first phase of a walking trail that be part of The Grove.   The City Council awarded a $606,367 contract to Tri Scapes Inc. this past week to build the second phase of the trail. The second phase which pickup where the first phase will end, at the corner of Oak Road and U.S. Highway, and continue it south to Briscoe Park.   There were also be the new two-story, 44,000-square-foot Elizabeth Williams library branch that the city is working with Gwinnett County to have built at the site. Pre-construction meetings on the library were still taking place this past week.   It will be different from other libraries that Gwinnett has been partnering with cities...

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Snellville, with Partners, Closes on Land Purchase for The Grove at Towne Center

Snellville, in a joint venture with CASTO and MidCity Real Estate Partners has closed on the purchase of the land and its loan with US Bank for Phase I of The Grove at Towne Center. Construction on the project’s $85 million first phase began in March with the multi-use project expected to open in late 2022/early 2023.   “Every item we check off the list brings us one day closer to seeing The Grove at Towne Center open to our community,” said Mayor Barbara Bender. “It’s especially exciting to see physical evidence of this long-awaited project now that construction has begun!”   In addition to 50,000 square feet of shopping, dining, recreation, and business space, The Grove at Towne Center will also offer upscale apartments, a new Gwinnett County Library, a special use mercantile building and common areas including The Grove town green.   “Watching a project come to life never gets old,” said Kirk Demetrops, President of MidCity Real Estate Partners. “Closing on the land sale is an exciting milestone that opens up the door for us to continue creating and adding to this project that means so much to the city and its residents.”   Information and updates on the project: www.snellville.org/the-grove-at-towne-center.   Article as seen in the AJC on June 6,...

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City of Snellville Breaks Ground on The Grove at Towne Center

Snellville, GA — The City of Snellville, along with co-developers CASTO and MidCity, is pleased to announce that Mid Cast Snellville has commenced demolition and broken ground on The Grove at Towne Center. The ceremony initiated The Grove’s $85 million first phase, which is scheduled to begin to deliver in 2022.   The City of Snellville and Mid Cast team have been working for more than three years to plan and design the project. The groundbreaking event commemorated the first visible progress of the highly anticipated town center project. Attendees heard from key leaders of the project, including Mayor Barbara Bender, and witnessed a ceremonial groundbreaking. There was also a surprise presentation of a $500,000 donation from the Snell Family Foundation. A portion of the funds are expected to go toward a public art statue of City founders James Sawyer and Thomas Snell.   “We’re ecstatic to begin visible progress on this long-awaited project,” said Snellville Mayor Barbara Bender. “This is a momentous occasion for the City and its residents.”   The Grove at Towne Center will be a large scale, mixed-use town center property, comprising 18 acres between Oak Road, Wisteria Drive, North Road and Clower Street, in downtown   Snellville. The Grove at Towne Center’s first phase will include over 50,000 square feet of retail, restaurant, office and entertainment space, and approximately 262 multi-family luxury apartments.  In addition, the new Elizabeth Williams Library will be constructed and include a 2nd floor business development/accelerator space.   For more information and updates on the Grove at Towne Center project visit www.snellville.org/the-towne-center-snellville.   ABOUT CASTO CASTO, a fully integrated real estate organization since 1926, is a recognized leader in the ownership, management, acquisition and development of multifamily residences, mix-use properties, commercial shopping centers and office buildings. CASTO’s growing portfolio currently includes more than 26 million square feet of commercial property and more than 5,000 residential units located throughout the midwestern and southeastern United States. CASTO is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, and serves a variety of clients from five offices in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio. To learn more about CASTO, visit www.castoinfo.com.   ABOUT MidCity Real Estate Partners Founded in 2009, Atlanta based, MidCity Real Estate Partners acquires, repositions, and develops office, and mixed-use properties. MidCity is known in the Atlanta market for their work on Alpharetta City Center, which was named a 2018 Development of Excellence for Exceptional Merit for Context-Sensitive Town Center Development, by the Atlanta Regional Commission. Through MidCity Realty Corporation, an affiliate real estate brokerage company, MidCity offers a full range of advisory services. MidCity is the successor company to The Griffin Company, a 35-year-old full service commercial real estate development and construction company headquartered in Atlanta, GA. To learn more about MidCity, visit www.midcitypartners.com.   ABOUT SNELLVILLE Snellville’s convenient Gwinnett County location, approximately 18 miles east of Atlanta and 45 miles west of Athens, has allowed it to prosper as a hub of commerce and retail in Northeast Georgia. Snellville’s roots extend to 19th century London when two friends traveled to America and later started Snellville’s rich history of commerce with stores of their own. Snellville is home to the award-winning Snellville Farmers’ Market, a world class Veterans Memorial and one of the most decorated police departments in the state. Snellville is known for its dedicated volunteers and its celebrated diversity.    ...

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Snellville picks MidCity as developer for $85 million Towne Center project

Snellville is partnering with two developers on an $85 million first phase of its new town center, the latest suburban Atlanta city embracing the chance to create a vibrant downtown.   The Grove at Towne Center will be led by a joint venture of Casto, a more than 90-year-old real estate company based in Columbus, Ohio, and MidCity Real Estate Partners, an Atlanta firm that brought walkable, mixed-use development to downtown Alpharetta.   The first phase is set to begin in 2020, depending on the development team’s ability to secure construction financing in coming months. It will include 250 apartments and over 50,000 square feet of retail, restaurant, office and entertainment space. Paths for pedestrians and cyclists will also connect to the Snellville Greenway.   The Market Center will anchor the project. Early ideas for the building include a brew pub and upscale event space. The Commons area will also allow the city to create a public gathering space for festivals and other events.   The Grove at Towne Center is a microcosm of widespread downtown revitalization underway across the country, with local examples in Alpharetta, Duluth, Suwanee, Lawrenceville and other cities. As more people return to downtowns, it’s also a reminder of how many regional power retail centers and malls that flourished in the 80s and 90s are under pressure to stay relevant with consumers.   “Historically, in areas of the Northeast, the Midwest and Europe, the town center was everything,” said Kirk Demetrops, president of MidCity. “There was a 20-year trend where land was cheap, and the power centers and the malls were in vogue. There’s still room for those. But, the town center is coming back as a place that brings people together.”   “We’ve been working on this for a year,” Demetrops said. “It’s a really good match for us.”   This article first appeared in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on August 27th, 2019 by Douglas Sams. To see the original article, click...

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