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Latest Wal-Mart ready to open

Wal-Mart is quietly preparing to raise the curtain on its largest superstore in Gwinnett this coming Wednesday - 18 months after angry Lawrenceville homeowners tried to block its construction.

The 208,000-square-foot store at the intersections of Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road, U.S. Highway 29 and Sugarloaf Parkway will be the ninth Wal-Mart in Gwinnett and the second in Lawrenceville. It is also just five miles from another Supercenter at Collins Hill Road. An empty Wal-Mart stands on Grayson Highway.

The perceived abundance of Supercenters led 1,464 Lawrenceville residents to sign petitions to block this newest Wal-Mart. But a controversial 3-2 City Council vote in December 2003 paved the way.

Lawrenceville Mayor Bobby Sikes, who broke the Council impasse, said he hasn't given much thought to the opposition.

"I know I'd rather see a Supercenter than apartments," he said.

Even so, Lawrenceville Councilman David Rodriguez is one of many who say they won't be walking through the doors of the new Wal-Mart - or any other for that matter. Rodriguez said approving the new Wal-Mart "really left a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of citizens."

Poor Button Gwinnett

More than 200 hundred years ago, one of the nation's founding fathers lost his life in a duel with a political rival. Now, his name just got axed from a prestigious honor.

Button Gwinnett's name will no longer grace the biggest trophy handed out each year by the Council for Quality Growth. The Button Gwinnett Award, given to the most important movers and shakers in real estate development, will go by a different name.

The Gwinnett-based group of bankers, brokers, architects and attorneys will call the honor the Four Pillar Award. The new tag aims to draw attention to quality, responsibility, vision and integrity - the principles the Council for Quality Growth says it was founded on 20 years ago.

Michael Paris, council president and CEO, said changing the name of the award is just another step in the group spreading its reach beyond Gwinnett.

Gwinnett Place continues its makeover

After reshuffling its retail mix during the past year to appeal to a more diverse group of shoppers, the Duluth mall is opening four new stores and restaurants, Gwinnett Place management said.

Trendy fashion retailer Know Style, upscale apparel retailer Logic, Jamaican restaurant Kool Runnings and Market Bakery are joining the fold at the Duluth mall.

Doug Sams is a staff writer for the Gwinnett Daily Post. E-mail him at doug.sams@gwinnettdailypost.com