SUWANEE -- For the second time in six months, the city of Suwanee has made an investment in the city's Gateway area.
City officials announced a $1.25 million purchase of a 3.4-acre property at 2955 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road where the closed May Queen Hotel sits. The property was purchased from First Intercontinental Bank and the immediate plans are to demolish the dilapidated buildings and "land bank" the property for the future, a news release said.
In September, the city opened a police substation and training facility near Interstate 85 also in the Gateway area that in recent years has become known for closed businesses and increased crime. But after several businesses have opened recently, including an Ultra Car Wash and the Movie Tavern, city officials hope they've made a positive change in the direction of the Gateway area.
"This purchase allows the city to eliminate a vacant, rundown building and invest, as have several private businesses and other public agencies, in the long-term success of the area," Mayor Jimmy Burnette said. "We're extremely optimistic about the future of the Suwanee Gateway."
City manager Marty Allen said Suwanee has had success in the past in acquiring land and turning to the private sector for implementation.
"Significant improvements in the Gateway area are going to require bold measures like this," Allen said.
A news release said the building is antiquated, visually unappealing, and financially impractical to rehabilitate. It's been closed for about a year for safety reasons.
City residents identified improvements to the area as a top priority during the recent 2020 vision strategic plan that was implemented last year.
Police Chief Mike Jones said that recent criminal activity in the area included theft, trespassing and manufacturing and selling methamphetamine.
"A vacant building like that is a magnet for crime," Jones said. "If we can get rid of the building and clean up the property, then we can reduce the police time spent on calls to the property, and avoid the spread of crime to the surrounding area as well as the deterioration of nearby properties."