LAWRENCEVILLE - Lawrenceville is getting progressively easier on the eyes - to the tune of $10.6 million prettier in the past year alone, economic leaders said.
The spruce-up hasn't gone unnoticed.
More than 20 completed projects were recently bestowed Golden Hammer Awards by city leaders focused on local tourism and economic vitality. Think of it as the Oscars of tactful renovation and new construction.
Recognized projects - ranging from a popular downtown bar and grill with a bird's-eye view of the county's landmark courthouse, to a parking lot on Pike Street - invested more than $10.6 million in Lawrenceville in 2007 and the first two quarters of 2008.
The Georgia Gwinnett College was offered a separate award for an investment of more than $60 million at the June 17 ceremony.
Modeled after the "Golden Nail" awards put on by Gainesville and Athens, the local accolades are meant to encourage property owners to be mindful of aesthetics and quality when taking on projects in greater Lawrenceville, said Jay Markwalter, executive director of the Lawrenceville Tourism and Trade Association.
"It's important to recognize not only the dollar investment but also the sweat equity," Markwalter said. "I think they certainly deserve the recognition."
Markwalter said the only criteria for recognized projects is that they must be completed. Now in their second year, the Golden Hammer honors branched out from the city's downtown core to shed light on outlying projects, such as the college. The program's focuses last year were the pioneers of Lawrenceville's beautification, or projects completed in the decade after 1997, Markwalter said.
"It's a source of pride for the recipients and the community as a whole," he said.
SideBar: 2008 Golden Hammer winners
The 2008 Golden Hammer Award winners are:
City of Lawrenceville (Calaboose Alley)
Randy and Cindy Sutt (Two awards - Honest Alley Exchange and Garden and Rock Paper Scissors)
Lee and Meg Earhart (Sparkle!)
Dorothy Riddle (Hair Riddles)
Scott McCray and Henry Vara (McCray's Tavern)
Morsberger Group (Three awards - McCray's Tavern; The 200 Crogan House; 162 E. Crogan Dance Studio)
Lawrence Design Group (162 E. Crogan St., Suite T)
Rozalie and Robert Hollis (Two awards - Pike St. parking lot, landscaping and entrance wall; The Church Stone Wall)
Lindsay, Pope, Brayfield and Associates (LPB Building)
Professional Equities Inc. (Two awards - Clayton Commerce Center; the 485 Perry St. Building)
Marshall Boutwell (Gwinnett Federal Credit Union)
Katie Platt (The Paper Fairy)
Shannon and Joe Braley (Fleet Feet Sports)
Redpepper (Main Perry Street office)
Gwinnett Facilities Management/Parks and Recreation (Historic Courthouse Lighting and Grounds)
Georgia Gwinnett College, Eileen and Bob Barrow (The Barrow Group LLC)
Maggie Walls and Stephanie Cushing (Studio Dance and Fitness/Delphi Dance and Yoga)