In Why I Walk, urban designer Kevin Klinkenberg writes, “creating better places to live can, in turn, improve our lives. And better places are places where we can walk.”
When you arrive at your vacation destination or the hotel that will be your home during a business trip, how often do you think about taking a walk to unwind, seek out the flavor of the city or even run a quick errand? Sometimes it’s nice to get out of the car and explore a new area if you can.
As the General Manager of the Sonesta Gwinnett Place Atlanta, Gwinnett County’s premier hotel, I have witnessed many guests take advantage of our area’s walkability. The ample number of sidewalks make it easier for our guests to experience the diverse restaurant scene happening in greater Gwinnett Place, the great shopping destinations and nearby places of interest. These pedestrian enhancements not only benefit our guests and the entire community, but they also benefit our bottom-line as guests factor in walkability when selecting a hotel. The Sonesta Gwinnett Place is proud to be located in one of the county’s most walkable areas.
Yet only a few years ago, Gwinnett’s central business district had a challenge — it lacked the pedestrian infrastructure to support a walkable community. However, working together, the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners and the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District have changed that paradigm and created one of the most walkable areas in Gwinnett.
Promoting a more walkable Central Business District has been an important focus of the CID Board of Directors’ mission from the beginning. A combination of Gwinnett County SPLOST funds, Transportation Enhancement grants and CID funds have helped to construct sidewalks on almost every street in the greater Gwinnett Place area, translating to miles of new sidewalks throughout the district.
More than 15 Gwinnett Place sidewalk and associated landscape repair projects have resulted from the combined funding from the Gwinnett County SPLOST and CID at these locations:
- Venture Parkway
- Market Street
- Crestwood Parkway
- Satellite Boulevard
- Old Norcross Road
- Steve Reynolds Boulevard
- Merchants Way
- Koger Boulevard
- Pineland Road
- Sweetwater Road
- Venture Drive
- Pleasant Hill Road
- Tandy Key Lane
- Commerce Avenue
- Liddell Lane
- East Liddell Road
New sidewalks are currently under construction along Steve Reynolds Boulevard and should be completed in February or March of this year.
In addition to new sidewalks in the area, four phases of streetscape improvements have been completed along Pleasant Hill Road. The first phase of streetscape improvements has been completed along Satellite Boulevard, and on January 3, the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners approved the agreements to begin construction of a second phase. The new streetscape areas have pedestrian plazas, professionally-installed landscapes, benches, trash receptacles and pedestrian lights. Thanks to Gwinnett County, new LED streetlights were installed last September along portions of Pleasant Hill Road, Steve Reynolds Boulevard and Satellite Boulevard, further enhancing safety features and making the area more pedestrian friendly.
The CID is currently developing preliminary engineering and construction plans to install streetscape elements for the remaining portions of Satellite Boulevard, from Old Norcross Road to Steve Reynolds Boulevard, and for the remaining portions of Pleasant Hill Road from Club Drive to Old Norcross Road. These plans should be completed by February 2017 with the CID hoping to move toward construction as soon as funding is made available. The CID also has been studying ways to better link the area to nearby McDaniel Farm Park and Shorty Howell Park with a series of pedestrian improvements and trails.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could leave your hotel and walk to a great park just before a quick dinner at one of Atlanta’s most unique and delicious restaurants? I believe Gwinnett Place will set the standard for walkability in the suburban market.
David Kohlasch has 30 years of experience as a hospitality executive, and has been the General Manager of the Sonesta Gwinnett Place Atlanta for three years. He also is on the Board of Directors for Explore Gwinnett, Gwinnett Sports Commission and Infinite Energy Arena.