Metro Atlantans who haven’t wandered the blocks around Downtown Lawrenceville’s historic square lately could be surprised by streets of new restaurants and boutiques in vintage buildings, beefed-up greenspaces, and hundreds of new housing units aiming to capitalize on walkability.
But the 200-year-old Gwinnett County seat is angling to make what could be its biggest redevelopment splash yet in 2021, when the curtain lifts on the $35-million Lawrenceville Performing Arts Center downtown.
Spanning 56,000 square feet, the arts center project has consumed a corner of former surface parking and a full block of street frontage facing the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse, a landmark that’s stood since 1885.
Its marquee attraction will be Aurora Theatre—Georgia’s second largest professional theater company and Gwinnett’s only pro performing arts organization.
Project officials this week provided Urbanize Atlanta with aerial footage showing recent progress at the arts center site, which broke ground in summer 2019 and topped out in November. They say it could open as early as this summer, or as late as this fall.
Features will include a 500-seat theater, Cabaret, indoor and outdoor civic spaces, plus rooms for offices and classes. A space next door will be left for future development.
Once it opens, the facility “will be a visual representation of Lawrenceville’s commitment to the arts,” Mayor David Still said recently in a prepared statement. “A 15-year partnership with Aurora Theatre and many years of hard work on the part of numerous determined individuals have delivered a one-of-a-kind project.”
Aurora Theatre remains closed due to COVID-19 concerns, but it’s managed to stay engage with audiences through alternate programming that’s included virtual performances, according to Anthony Rodriguez, the group’s cofounder and producing artistic director. In October, the City of Lawrenceville green-lighted an additional $4 million to upgrade the arts center with improved air filtration and hands-free devices for safety.
Below is a look at recent construction and how the facility is expected to fit within its historic context later this year.
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