Suwanee formally submits for historic status

SUWANEE -- Nearly a year after the city of Suwanee made a lease-to-purchase transaction for Pierce's Corner, city officials have formally submitted an application for a national historic register.

The latest update is the beginning of what could be a two-year process.

"We're at the very, very, very preliminary stages," said Denise Brinson, the city's economic development director.

The formal application was submitted late last month, and included a section along Main Street and Stonecypher Road, but also includes Scales Street, Scales Road and Russell Street. The area is about 60 acres and includes 35 historic or contributing resources. State Department of Natural Resource officials should give city officials an update within the next two months, Brinson said.

State officials gave the city a preliminary thumbs up earlier this summer, but it added Suwanee First United Methodist Church, which was built in 1910.

Brinson said at the federal level, districts are drawn to include continuous historic buildings. In Suwanee's case, the building that houses Jerry N. Little Jr.'s CPA office, 677 Main St., was thought to have too many modern improvements by consultant Ken Kocher, who Suwanee hired to assist in this process.

A group of homeowners, called "Main Street Neighbors" north of Stonecypher, have voiced their opposition through yard signs and a petition that's been signed by eight people. Property owner Linda Fleming voiced the group's opposition during the September and October City Council meetings.

The petition read: "We, the property owners below, respectfully request you not include our property in boundary lines drawn and submitted to DNR as part of a National Register District within the City of Suwanee, Georgia USA. It is not the intent of MSN, at this juncture in the process, to preclude a NRD within other areas of said City."

State officials have said more than 50 percent of property owners -- or about 25 -- would need to voice disapproval to stop the national historic register district.

Brinson said the information submitted at the Council meetings would not be reviewed by the state, but state officials would solicit comments from property owners.

Fleming has previously said the city should not be involved if property owners want to be on the National Historic Register, and there are no major advantages to an individual property owner to live in a National Historic Register other than to say they live there.

A turning point in the historic register situation came in December when the DDA and the Deming Group, LLC, agreed to a 50-year lease-to-purchase transaction for $258,640 finance at a 3.5 percent interest rate.

Tax credits gained from being in a National Historic Register for Pierce's Corner have an estimated value of $300,000, city officials have said.

Michael Deming Jr. has said his plans for a renovated Pierce's Corner include a first floor casual dining restaurant, and a second-floor office for a business that would help start-up businesses. Brinson has said Deming's business model depends on the tax credits, but a positive report from the state in the next two months could begin financing processes.