Lilburn buzzing with redevelopment activity across town | News
Lilburn town center has seen a lot of construction in recent years – and it has more projects going on for this area. But city leaders are keen to stress that downtown isn’t the only place where development is happening.
Lilburn has several development projects going on in the town at the moment. Some of them are residential developments. Others relate to economic development. Streetscape projects and new roads are under consideration, as are plans to improve access to the Camp Creek Greenway.
There’s even a City Park expansion, which will roughly triple the size of that park, included in Lilburn’s long-term plans.
“We have a lot of development going on,” City Manager Bill Johnsa said. “We like to brag about our old town neighborhood and some of our recent projects – our new paddling pool, our new pavilion – but we also have projects on the board, and we have a lot of projects all over the city, so we see the city, as a whole, revitalizes and discovers itself honestly again.
With so many projects planned or under development across Lilburn, it can feel overwhelming trying to find one place to stand out.
Downtown has seen major projects in recent years, starting with the opening of a new city hall and library complex, and the realignment of Main Street, in 2016. Later housing developments began to appear along Main Street and the City Police Department and Municipal Court moved out of the old City Hall building, which was demolished to make way for a new clubhouse and wading pool at the city park.
Now there are new developments on the horizon in Lilburn town centre, or Old Town Lilburn as it is now known.
“We’ve created a place, a unique place,” said Deputy City Manager Jenny Simpkins.
Brewery and food hall headline Railroad Avenue redevelopment plans
Chief among these projects is the redevelopment of the former Builders Steel Supply building on Railroad Avenue. Plans to redevelop the site as The Brigade, which will house a brewery and tap room called Legends Brewing Company, and a food hall were presented to the Lilburn Downtown Development Authority on October 20.
Legends Brewing Company’s head brewer will be Austin Edwards, who is currently the head brewer at Hopstix Brewpub in Chamblee and previously served as head brewer at STATS Brewpub in Atlanta, and production brewer at Jekyll Brewing Company.
He will work with Tim Chapel, who previously worked on the beer brand, according to Simpkins.
Meanwhile, the main person working on The Brigade – which takes its name from the old stories of the Lilburn Bucket Brigade – is also involved with Hot Betty’s in Tucker.
“It will bring synergy to downtown, but it’s more than that,” Johnsa said. “This (kind of) development also stimulates other developments.”
Concurrent with The Brigade development, the city plans to extend Velva Way from First Avenue to Railroad Avenue to increase residents’ walkable access to the development. Additional municipal parking will also be installed at the brewery and the food hall.
Railroad Avenue itself will undergo a beautification project, with parking at the Hope Springs Distillery paved and a new access point for the Camp Creek Greenway established. This will be related to the work that needs to happen on Main Street.
Street development and retail development planned on Main Street
Downtown redevelopment is not limited to Railroad Avenue.
The city is working with a developer to redevelop the storefronts across Main Street from the 1910 public house in conjunction with the streetscape. This will coincide with street work on this side of the road.
A site plan foresees future retail, potentially including a restaurant, on this block, with parking in front and behind the shops, which will be added to the existing Cofer building. Walkways with string lights hanging overhead would connect the rear parking lot to Main Street.
The streetscape works will include four-way stops on Main Street, Railroad Avenue and First Avenue, as well as decorative upgrades, wide sidewalks and a change from corner parking to 90-degree parking.
“We plan to let (street development) bid around the first of the year, January or February at the latest, and start construction in the spring,” Johnsa said. “And it’s not just Main Street across the street since 1910, it’s also the side streets, and the second phase will be along Railroad Avenue.”
star for the future
But, one of the biggest projects – in terms of size at least – that city leaders have in their long-term plans is an expansion of City Park. The expansion, which is expected to be included in Lilburn’s project applications for the 2023 Special Use Local Options Sales Tax, would effectively triple the size of the park and extend it to Killian Hill Road.
Some possibilities for expansion include the addition of an amphitheater that would fit into a natural bowl on the property.
The expansion property is bordered by the railway line, Killian Hill Road, the existing park and a spur of the Camp Creek Greenway which includes a connection to Sarann Court. It currently houses a concrete production plant.
“Right now it’s being used commercially…and they’re playing their lease and cleaning it up,” Mayor Tim Dunn said.
Property developments around Lilburn
The majority of development projects going on in Lilburn currently involved housing, and there is not a single part of town where they are taking place.
They ride everywhere in Lilburn.
A list of residential projects provided by the city shows that there are 10 projects under construction and two more projects that are proposed. A total of approximately 688 residential units, including townhouses, age-restricted duplexes and single-family residences.
“These are not building permits for a single-family home,” Simpkins said. “These are the development of large expanses.”
Of the residential unit developments under construction, approximately 341 of the residences are townhouses. Simpkins said that prompted city leaders to decide to suspend all new townhouse development in January 2020. At that time, there were about 500 permits for new townhouses.
The moratorium was put in place to review Lilburn’s zoning, and city leaders made changes to encourage greater diversity in its new housing stock.
“Within six months, we had re-evaluated our zoning code and we no longer allow development of attached units in any of our zoning categories,” Simpkins said. “This requires a special use permit.”
Johnsa added: “It’s a specific site plan so it needs to be presented to the mayor and council, which is extremely important.”
Among the major residential developments highlighted by officials is Luxomni Point, which includes 47 townhouses, which will sell for the low $300,000 range, at the intersection of Arcado Road and Cedar Road. Another project they highlighted was Main Street Townes in Lilburn, which includes 80 townhouses and 15,000 square feet of future retail space that will be located across Main Street from City Hall.
City leaders also highlighted the Parkview East development, which includes 127 single-family homes on approximately 36 acres off Arcado Road near Lilburn Stone Mountain Road. The homes are expected to sell for between $300,000 and $400,000.
“We’re seeing a lot of higher priced properties, especially in the Old Town area and the Parkview area, selling and growing,” Johnsa said.
Johnsa and Dunn said there are also a lot of home improvement projects going on in the city right now.
“(You see) these dumpsters in the driveway and they’re emptying the house,” Dunn said. “There is a lot of optimism. Citizens are very optimistic about the future of Lilburn.
The Lawrenceville Expressway trade corridor is under study
Another key project underway is a study to determine how the Lawrenceville Highway trade corridor can be revitalized.
The city is partnering with the Lilburn Downtown Development Authority and the Lilburn Community Improvement District for the study. Retail Strategies was hired in August to look at ways to revitalize the retail corridor, with new retailers and restaurants.
The three-year consultancy contract asks Retail Strategies to carry out market analysis and recruit companies in the corridor.
“It’s a partnership…to bring in professionals to give us feedback on what we need to do, and first give us an inventory of what we have, and then let us know what strategies we have to put in place to attract the types of businesses that we would like to see here,” said Johnsa.
The analysis phase is coming to an end, and city officials are expected to hold a conference call with Retail Strategies in November to review these results. The next phase will be to consider how this information can be used to attract business.