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City of Suwanee Wins Two 2023 Downtown Excellence Awards from Georgia Downtown Association

The Georgia Downtown Association recognized the City of Suwanee with two Downtown Excellence Awards in the categories of Promotion: Creative New Event and Design: Best Public Improvement Project at their August 23 conference.

Suwanee’s newest interactive public art piece, The Ultimate Participation Trophy, won in the category of Promotion: Creative New Event. This captivating installation with a bold vision celebrates the power of community while capitalizing on a cool idea to use the community’s treasure trove of endless trophies.

The city sent out the call for old trophies in the fall of 2022. Expecting a few hundred, the city received a few THOUSAND. Artist Phil Proctor then reimagined these outdated relics of past glory, infusing them with new meaning and purpose. The Ultimate Participation Trophy was unveiled at the Suwanee Arts Festival in April 2023.

“I asked my kids if they want their old trophies, and the answer was a hard no,” said Suwanee Assistant City Manager Denise Brinson. “As a parent, it’s hard to just throw them away. This project gives those mementos a meaningful purpose and second life.”

The recently completed Better Buford Highway Project took home the prize for Design: Best Public Improvement Project. This project has already been instrumental in transforming downtown Suwanee into a vibrant and walkable destination, and is expected to be as transformative to downtown Suwanee as Town Center Park was over 20 years ago.

In 2008, the City of Suwanee recognized the importance of preserving the walkability of its downtown and included the goal of redesigning Buford Highway in its comprehensive plan. The city envisioned creating a “complete street” that accommodates pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles and connects the historic Old Town with vibrant Town Center.

A concept was developed for a low-speed, two-lane city street with a center-turn lane and medians, deviating from other plans for a four-lane divided highway. This shift in design prioritizes pedestrians over cars in order to preserve the walkable environment the city worked so hard to create.

Aspects of the project include:

  • A roundabout that provides a sense of arrival and encourages vehicles to slow down
  • Ten-foot-wide sidewalks
  • Street trees that offer shade and separation from vehicles
  • Streetlights
  • On-street parking supporting downtown businesses and helps to slow down traffic
  • Dedicated bike lanes

“The Suwanee Downtown Development Authority recognized opportunities presented by this project, and strategically acquired ground floor commercial space in mixed-use developments,” said Suwanee Economic Development Manager Chris Hardin.