Lawrenceville delays decision on Aurora

LAWRENCEVILLE - Reeling from sticker shock, the Lawrenceville City Council decided Monday to negotiate with the only company willing to turn an old church into a playhouse.

Voting 2-1, council members delayed a decision on a $4.7 million bid submitted last week by Rogers Construction Co.

The lone bid surprised city officials, who expected to pay about $2.5 million to have a brick building near the downtown square renovated and expanded so it can house the Aurora Theatre.

"I think that's an excellent idea since we have not had time for discussion," said Councilwoman Judy Johnson, who voted for the delay along with Councilman Bob Clark.

The council's other options were to accept the bid or reject it and repeat the bid process.

Tabling a decision on the bid until March 15 gives the city attorney and mayor time to meet with the Lawrenceville company and try to negotiate a lower price.

Councilman P.K. Martin voted against the delay.

"I want to handle it more quickly," Martin said. "We have time constraints."

The former Methodist church building on West Pike Street must be ready for the Aurora by the end of the year so it can move to the county seat from Duluth. Any delay could put the theater in limbo, Martin said.

Also Monday, city officials announced a public meeting will be held at City Hall so citizens can gain more information about the possible annexation of hundreds of acres on the eastern edge of the city.

Most of the land along Ga. Highway 316 is in the massive Gwinnett Progress Center industrial park, and a bill filed with the state Legislature would move it inside the city limits.

Because the Legislature would be annexing the land for the city, the city does not have to notify affected property owners.

The 7 p.m. meeting on March 14 is being held by state Rep. John Heard, who filed the bill at the urging of city officials who want control over the land's development. They envision high-rises and bio-tech companies occupying it.