Roads abandoned in subdivision

LAWRENCEVILLE - Two local roads were abandoned by the county last week, the latest step in a project to convert a now-empty subdivision into a shopping center.

Essex Drive and Essex Court are no longer the county's responsibility to maintain. Indeed, the streets have been blocked for months by a developer who intends to build the Webb Gin Crossing development on Ga. Highway 124.

The streets were in Essex Square, a 21-home subdivision next to The Avenue Webb Gin, where residents sold their homes to the Strategic Realty Group for more than $11 million and left those houses in December.

Ajay Singadia, a member of the Group, said the abandonment is just a formality for the project. He is working to get demolition permits for the houses, and expects they will be moved or destroyed in the next two to four weeks.

"It's one of the steps of us taking over the whole place," he said. "There's nothing really exciting happening."

Singadia said he is still negotiating leases with several large retailers. In the past, he said he was in discussions with J.C. Penney and other retailers and restaurants.

The entire project should be completed within two years. Singadia said while both his company and potential businesses are being careful in their conversations, the slowing economy has done nothing to hinder the project.

"We're still on course, on schedule," he said.

Singadia requested development permits from the Gwinnett County planning department in January. Plans for the project to include five buildings ranging from 10,000 to 104,000 square feet and 952 parking spaces.

The 34-acre project is the first time an entire subdivision has been sold to make way for commercial growth in the county.