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Subdivision-to-shops project revived

Staff Photo: John Bohn Abandoned property has become overgrown with vegetation on Essex Drive, located near the Avenue at Webb Gin in Snellville. Plans to build a retail shopping center have been delayed.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Abandoned property has become overgrown with vegetation on Essex Drive, located near the Avenue at Webb Gin in Snellville. Plans to build a retail shopping center have been delayed.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Four years after homes were demolished to make way for shops, the project is back on.

Officials are slated to hear arguments in September for a rezoning and change in conditions to allow the revamped plan for what was once residential Essex Drive, along Ga. Highway 124 next to the Avenue at Webb Gin.

The land was rezoned in 2007, after all of the homeowners agreed to sell to developers interested in capitalizing on the success of the open-air mall. With the promise of a J.C. Penney anchor and other shops, a year later, the homes were demolished.

But with the economic downturn, the vacant lots became infested with weeds and the cul-de-sac street -- blocked off from traffic -- languished in disuse.

Now, a new property owner is reviving the project, said Michael Sullivan, an attorney representing Scenic Capital in the land use hearings.

"We are very excited to move forward with this project and are continuing to work with the adjacent neighborhoods to come up with a set of zoning conditions that will assure both sides of a successful development that will be an asset to the community," Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the original retailers are not involved, but he could not release info on which stores could come to the complex, which could be expanded from the original 33 acres to add nearly more 10 acres currently zoned to allow apartments.

Total square footage of the project has been reduced, he added. The center would include 266,450 square feet of retail building with six outlots totalling 29,000-square feet and 1,333 parking spaces, according to paperwork filed with the Gwinnett Planning Department.

The project is slated to be heard by the Gwinnett Municipal Planning Commission Tuesday, with commissioners expected to make the final decision Sept. 25.