E Center Well Under Way
Sugar Hill has a clear vision of where it wants to go and what it wants to be. This vision is based on what the Sugar Hill community said it wanted through broad-based community input over ten years ago that formed the backbone of the first downtown master plan. That master plan has been updated and supplemented with other specific planning initiatives over the last few years to address office/retail capacity, hotel feasibility, housing needs and downtown mobility plans.
Over the last five years, city leaders have made key downtown investments to help jump-start its vision, clearly recognizing that private investment doesn’t happen by accident – it follows markets and goes to areas where planning is clear and predictable and elected officials are committed to its vision. Sugar Hill has invested in a new city hall, a beautiful community plaza and splash park behind city hall, an amenity pond that looks remarkably similar to Ponce City Park that serves as a functioning downtown stormwater facility and a 2017 Gwinnett Magazine “Best of Gwinnett Concert Venue” known as The Bowl.
Under construction beside city hall and overlooking The Bowl is the “E Center”, a public-private partnership that will include a 387-seat state-of-the-art indoor performing arts theater which will attract touring performances as well as house the city’s own Players Guild and Broad St. Concert Band. The project includes a gymnasium for basketball, volleyball and pickleball, all wrapped by an indoor-walking track, classrooms and community center offices. A highlight of this project is the 40,000sf of office, retail and restaurant space which will include a roof-top bar overlooking The Bowl. Several tenants have already signed on to be a part of the project and the city is in discussions with several other potential tenants. The goal is to attract unique shops and restaurants to the area and so far the city has been successful. While these upcoming tenants have not yet been announced, citizens can look for the announcement prior to the E Center’s expected opening in May 2018.
These community-initiated investments are both strategic and tactical, intended to build the type of destination downtown Sugar Hill residents want and deserve. The city is a growing community with over 21,500 people living in the city but now serving a much larger market with the recent completion of the widening of Georgia Highway 20, the only direct east-west route to Georgia 400 from I-85 and I-985. Sugar Hill is literally sitting at the crossroads of commerce yet many people and businesses still don’t know where Sugar Hill is or what it has to offer. The leaders at Sugar Hill are certainly changing that mindset.
The city’s physical investments, as well as quality of life downtown investments such as their concert series, festivals and the largest outdoor ice rink in south during the winter months have helped “activate” Sugar Hill’s downtown every day of the year. These investments and the resulting downtown activation have helped attract over $250 million of private sector projects planned for construction around The Bowl and E Center.
Mayor Steve Edwards proudly proclaims the city’s motto of “Go Big or Go Home” any time you are around him. And this is not bravado. They live that every day and are committed to making Sugar Hill the premier to live, work, play, entertain, engage and invest city in Georgia.