New upscale mall opens

Cousins Properties must be smiling.

The developer's new Avenue Webb Gin drew rave reviews in its first days of business.

The company based its decision to create the upscale shopping center at Webb Gin House Road and Scenic Highway on research that suggested the area would embrace the mall. While Gwinnett does have three traditional, regional malls, Cousins felt that eastern Gwinnett was underserved by high-end retail.

This week, many first-time shoppers browsed among the sandstone-colored storefronts, sparkling fountains and soft pop music of the new lifestyle center. Many said they had been waiting for retailers like Ann Taylor, Banana Republic and other high-price point stores to open closer to the fast-growing areas of Snellville, Grayson and eastern Lawrenceville.

"It took me less than 10 minutes to get here,"said Andrea McNeish of Snellville. "This is awesome. I'm going to be so happy."

While other Gwinnett malls have either launched new attractions - Discover Mills mall recently opened Medieval Times - or expanded their most successful stores, they will face a tough competitor in the Avenue.

Maleikka Williams, who usually shops at Discover Mills mall in Lawrenceville or the Mall of Georgia in Buford, said "This is a lot more convenient for me than those places."

The Avenue Webb Gin is the company's fourth Avenue project in metro Atlanta. It will be house more than 70 retailers, businesses and restaurants.

Chamber gets new logo

The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce has a new logo.

It unveiled the new brand and corporate identity this week at its Business in Gwinnett Expo and Job Fair.

The new look came from months of work by focus groups, surveys of Chamber members and one-on-one interviews with community leaders.

A branding task force that included the board of directors and staff worked with Adrenaline Inc. to craft the updated look. The logo signifies the Chamber as an important hub that unites business, health care, education and government. The new logo also represents bringing together businesses - both large and small - industries and cultures.

The Chamber will soon send its leaders to Richmond, Va., to see how that city's growth might foreshadow how Gwinnett County develops as it heads toward 1 million people. The Chamber will look at how Richmond met transportation, housing and economic development challenges to see if their approach can serve as a model for Gwinnett.