Suwanee's Jolly Holly-day Celebration
Suwanee residents better not pout, and they better not cry – Santa Claus is coming to Town Center Park!The jolly ol' elf himself is scheduled to ring in the holiday season at Town Center Park on Friday, December 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the City of Suwanee's annual Jolly Holly-day event.
Santa will magically light Suwanee's Christmas tree and then listen to wishes and take photos with good girls and boys, while choruses from Level Creek, Riverside, Roberts, and Suwanee elementary schools perform some of the season's favorite tunes on the stage. Performers from the Suwanee Academy of the Arts and Royal Dance Academy will also serve up some jammin' jingles.
Craft activities and complimentary hot chocolate, cookies, and s'mores will be available while supplies last. Parents, be sure to bring cameras or phones to snap your own photos with St. Nick.
Suwanee Youth Leaders - Learning Life Skills
Applications for the 2016 Suwanee Youth Leaders (SYL) program, an eight-month City of Suwanee leadership program for high school sophomores and juniors, are being accepted through December 4. Applications can be downloaded here or hard copies are available through local high schools.
Now in its third year, SYL is open to students who attend public, private, and home-based schools and live in the North Gwinnett, Peachtree Ridge, and Collins Hill clusters. The program centers on civic involvement, leadership skills, and volunteer opportunities.
The 2016 SYL program will kick off with a required two-day retreat on February 27 and 28. Students will then meet one Saturday each month March through September and also will be expected to volunteer at several community events, which may include the August concert, two Food Truck Friday events, Suwanee Fest, and Arts in the Park.
Make 2016 more 'event-ful'
The City of Suwanee is currently accepting event applications for community events to be hosted at City of Suwanee parks during 2016. The deadline for applications is December 11. Once the City's event schedule is approved after the first of the year, no additional events may be added.
Each year, the City of Suwanee hosts, primarily at Town Center Park, more than 40 City- and privately planned events, including concerts, festivals, races, food truck events, and more.
"Events are an important part of community-building in Suwanee," says Events Manager Amy Doherty. "Each year, we love partnering with community organizations to bring great music, fun events, and unique engagement opportunities to our residents and others."
Snap Suwanee deadline is Dec. 31
Snap – and share – your photos of the Suwanee community through the City's annual Snap Suwanee photo competition. Click here for guidelines and applications. Each photographer may submit up to five photos; the deadline for submissions is December 31.
Photos submitted to the competition should represent the Suwanee community in some way and ideally be taken within the City of Suwanee limits. Winning photographs will be exhibited, beginning in March 2016, for an approximately one-year period at City Hall.
The dozen winning photos from the 2015 competition are currently on display on the first-floor lobby of City Hall and may be viewed from 8 am-5 pm weekdays.
'Plot' a healthier, fresher 2016
Applications for plots at Suwanee's Harvest Farm organic community garden are now being accepted for 2016. Applications from returning gardeners only are due by Friday, October 16.
Garden plots are assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis with priority given to City residents, property owners, and taxpayers as well as returning gardeners.
Plots are available in three different sizes, with the annual fee ranging from $50-$100. City of Suwanee residents/taxpayers receive a 25 percent discount.
Annual fees include use of a raised bed, utilities, basic community tools, social and educational events, and, when available, compost. Gardeners incur personal expenses for items such as seeds, plants, amendments, stakes, and trellises.
Suwanee Election Results
In the November 3rd municipal election, Suwanee voters elected incumbents Doug Ireland and Dick Goodman to serve another four-year term. Mayor Jimmy Burnette ran unopposed and will return for another term.
Below are the uncertified election results for Suwanee:
Council Post 1
Council Post 2
13.1 miles of running fun
You can do this! On Saturday, January 30, the second annual Suwanee Gateway Half Marathon will take off from Town Center Park, meander through Old Town and up Peachtree Industrial, wind along the Suwanee Creek Greenway, and take you up and back Northolt Road. You'll finish spectacularly – or maybe, just finally – at Town Center.
Presented by Georgia Fitness, this Peachtree Road Race qualifier will begin at 7:30 a.m. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three male and female finishers.
Additional race information is available at runsuwanee.com, and registration is open at active.com. The race fee is $65. You may want to register early as the race will be capped at 600 runners, and the fee increases to $85 on December 14. Race-day registration will not be available.
"We had a very successful inaugural event last year," says Georgia Fitness's Jason Vance. "We're looking forward to another great run. It's exciting to us to pull the local running community together in this way that is both fun and challenging." The race course is, in parts, historic, scenic, and challenging. The elevation gain throughout the race is 613.5 feet.
Bond refinancing to save about $180K
With authorization from the Suwanee Urban Redevelopment Agency, the City of Suwanee plans to close in November on an agreement with JP Morgan Chase to refinance 2006 revenue bonds that were used to help fund construction of Suwanee City Hall. The City still owes about $4 million on the original $6.5 million bonds and, through refinancing at an interest rate of 1.94%, will save approximately $180,000, or about 4.65 percent, across the 11-year payment period that remains.
JP Morgan Chase offered the City a 1.94% fixed interest rate. The original interest rate on the bonds was 3.5%.
"The City's debt policy requires that, unless terms are changed, a savings of at least 3% must be realized in order to refinance debt," says Financial Services Director Amie Sakmar. "Suwanee's strong financial position – we have a AAA bond rating from Standard & Poor's – make us a good investment, and market conditions and low interest rates make this a good time to refinance. Premier financial institutions like JP Morgan Chase want to partner with us because we're a secure bet."
The City of Suwanee also has about $13 million in general obligation bonds (remaining from $17.7 million in bonds that were originally issued in 2002), which were used to acquire open space and build parks. The City refinanced those bonds in 2006 and cannot, according to IRS rules, refinance again within a 10-year period.
Photo by Bill Mahan
Art where it matters most
Suwanee's new public art master plan, adopted by City Council at its September 22 meeting, calls not for placing public art everywhere, but rather for putting art where it matters most. The plan, developed over the past six months in consultation with Todd Bressi, an independent art consultant from Philadelphia, and Meridith McKinley, a public art planning and programming professional in St. Louis, suggests that Suwanee focus its efforts on public art that is "engaging, fun, memorable, and distinctive;" helps strengthen community connections; and that, in many cases, is temporary.
The master plan suggests two themes for future projects: art + play and art + identity/City image.
Art + play projects are creative, likely pedestrian-focused, and encourage community engagement. "Think about art that you can interact with," says Bressi, "things that are related to sound and light, things that are kinetic or related to STEM education. People will see fun and interesting things, things that they've not necessarily seen before or are expecting."
Art + identity projects promote a sense of arrival within Suwanee in general or perhaps to the downtown district. Such projects could strengthen the physical connections between areas of the City. "Art can create scale, break down distances, and make those connections more interesting for people," notes Bressi.
Overall, the plan suggests a variety of art projects that could be rolled out over the next decade as opportunities arise and funding becomes available. The plan emphasizes strategic use of temporary art pieces, which Bressi notes, may be more cost effective, allow for experimentation, and keep things fresh and different.
A preliminary concept drawing, provided by Terwilliger-Pappas, of the proposed mixed-use residential/retail project at Chicago Avenue and Buford Highway.
Proposed project to extend Town Center
The City of Suwanee Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has taken initial steps to enter a public-private partnership with developer Terwilliger-Pappas that will create a mixed-use multifamily/retail building at Chicago Street and Buford Highway adjacent to Town Center. The proposed development, on a 3.5-acre tract currently owned by the DDA, is expected to feature a five-story structure with 10,000 square feet of street-level commercial/retail/restaurant space and 235 high-end apartments. The project also is expected to include a parking garage around which the mixed-use structure will be built.
"The City of Suwanee DDA is pursuing an exciting public-private partnership that will extend our incredible Town Center," says Mayor Jimmy Burnette. "This project would bring more residents, commercial opportunities, and energy to Town Center's vibrant 'live, work, play' lifestyle. This could be a win for all of us."
The Suwanee DDA and Terwilliger-Pappas have executed a letter of intent and are currently negotiating details on the $46 million project. Under the terms of the letter of intent, Suwanee's DDA would receive $600,000 in cash for the property plus ownership, at no additional cost, of the 10,000 square feet of commercial/retail space. The approximately 3.5-acre property being purchased by Terwilliger-Pappas was acquired by the City of Suwanee over time for $497,000.
The primarily one- and two-bedroom residences that are part of the project are expected to appeal to professional millennials and empty-nesters and would further the City's efforts to be a lifelong community. "We fully expect that these apartments will set the bar for quality in Gwinnett County," says Suwanee's Downtown Manager Adam Edge, "and that rental rates will exceed those of any similar existing Gwinnett County development. Studies have shown that Town Center has some of the highest property values in the county. We believe that this project will not just contribute to, but enhance, Town Center's value." Get more information.