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Parking Problems Persist in Downtown Lawrenceville

Business owners and shoppers thought a resolution had been reached when a parking lot downtown re-opened, and where shocked to find it blocked off once again.

Wood pillars blocking off a parking lot in Downtown Lawrenceville are frustrating local business owners and their customers.

There are signs up that saying the lot in between and will be closed starting February 1st. However, the lot had reopened for a short time in July, giving shop owners and shoppers hope that the issue had been resolved.

That issue being the sale of the lot. The Morsberger Group currently owns it. The asking price? $1.2 million. “We can’t sell something for less than what we owe,” said Emory Morsberger, owner of The Morseberger Group. “We’re trying to work with the community and property owners as best as we can.”

Which is why Morsberger decided to reopen the lot temporarily last month, so the city could shoot off their fireworks for their annual Prelude to the 4th celebration on the Square.

But at the beginning of August, the wood pillars went up, closing the lot off once again.

When we arrived at the lot, we found Alejandra Rojas, Event Coordinator at La Cazuela, directing a truck driver where to go. She was telling the driver how to navigate the pillars so he could empty the grease trap at the Mexican restaurant.

While this is an inconvenience for her, Rojas said her customers also suffer, especially those who come downtown to eat on their short lunch breaks. “Like the people from the bank, the nurses… Every time they come in they let us know how they have to find parking somewhere,” said Rojas. “Even though we have , sometimes it’s too far for them to walk when they have a very limited time to eat.”

We also witnessed a car with an elderly couple drive down the alleyway, looking to park close to their destination, but instead had to drive off and find other parking. A Sysco truck later parked, blocking the entire roadway while the driver made deliveries to the restaurants on the block.

At one point, developer Morseberger owned several buildings in , however the economic downturn changed much of that. “We used to receive a lot of rent on that lot and now that money is going to Texas,” said Morseberger referring to the TriGate Capital, owner of the building that houses .

“We can’t function without getting paid. It doesn’t work,” said Morseberger.

Rojas does not understand why Morseberger decided to block off the lot all together. “If they charged for parking, it would make sense,” she said. 

“It's really hurting the businesses there,” said former Downtown business owner Cindy Pitts Gilbert in a post on Lawrenceville Patch’s Facebook page. “It is a shame that someone has to hurt others to make their point.”

Morseberger said he has received offers for the parking lot in the past, but “they’re not enough to pay off the bank loan on the property.”

What do you think about this parking situation? Tell us in the comment section below.

John Bensley August 08, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Well... it is private property. But that doesn't change the truth of the inconvenience. Maybe someone will come along and buy it and charge $10 for parking... oh wait, that stinks too.
Debbie Green August 08, 2012 at 04:16 PM
It disappoints me greatly that the issue of the parking lot has not been resolved. As a wheelchair user, I have found that the street parking spaces are not user friendly for vans with ramps that let down. Therefore, I was happy to have the option to park in the lot in question for my downtown needs. Please bring this issue to a resolution as soon as possible.
Eric G Reid August 08, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Clearly the City is taking a hands off on this .. the orange fence was against code an nothing was done .. the 2 x 4 could pose safety hazard and should the fire dept need back access to rear if the building I am sure they are going to love jumping around 2x4s--
Debbie Bendever August 08, 2012 at 04:37 PM
We had to circle the block a couple of times to find a parking space when we went to Dominick's Saturday for my husband's birthday dinner. He is disabled and can't walk far. This can't be good for the businesses in the square. All because someone is greedy! It looks like we can forget about free parking in that spot. Unless the surrounding businesses can go in together to buy it, whoever does buy it will have to charge for parking--why else would they want to buy it?
Vanzetta Evans (Editor) August 08, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Eric, when I was there, I actually had to pick up a pillar that had fallen over into the roadway because I didn't want the grease truck to run over it and get a flat tire.
Susan G August 08, 2012 at 05:39 PM
It is amazing how people expect everything to be given to them, it is a private lot, he clearly has a mortgage, taxes and other expenses related to owning the property. The tenants should be upset that their landlord is not trying to lease or purchase the property, since the new landlord bought the properties at such a huge discount. No one in Gwinnett County will pay to park if there is a free parking garage down the street and non-enforced street parking. Morsberger or Morseberger did a lot to make Lawrenceville what it is today, and people seem to have forgotten that very quickly.
Cindy Pitts Gilbert August 09, 2012 at 03:49 PM
When a business opens in a particular location they evaluate things like parking and access to their business. When you open a business in good faith because a parking lot is there and then suddenly the parking lot is not there especially for a business like a restaurant it is not only unfair but it affects the businesses ability to support their employees, their ability to provide for their families and in many cases can put the business completely Out of Business. The businesses that opened here should be able to make money. If a customer finds it inconvenient to eat or shop somewhere they simply find somewhere else to eat and shop and the businesses there either close or move to a more convenient location. It's really simple. The 2 by 4s can't be safe or even legal poking up out of the ground all over the place. Grease Traps have to be emptied quarterly and food has to be delivered weekly and sometimes bi-weekly. Semi's and grease trap trucks blocking the street to gain access to these businesses has to present additional challenges for the city. It's a shame really. I have recently opened a booth in Scotland Yard. I can't park to unload my items for my booth. We will be moving to Snellville September 1st. I love Lawrenceville it is my home but I just can't provide for my family in Lawrenceville,
Susan G August 09, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Cindy, at your former space (The Singing Bean) it had no allotted parking, and where your customers parked was Gwinnett County owned. The county could have built on that lot at any time or not allowed your customers to utilize the lot, it's their right, the same as the owner of the other lot. You expect the owner to sacrifice without paying their bills. The stores along the rest of Crogan Street park either in the garage or in the street parking, it shouldn't be such a big deal for others and their customers to do so as well, and if not then the stores or landlord need to pay for the parking option there. Many stores and restaurants around the Square do not have allotted parking (Cosmos and Sparkle are just a few examples). Given your recent negative comments on the Lawrenceville Patch about the stores, downtown area and city government, I am glad you are leaving Lawrenceville. I am a long time Lawrenceville homeowner, and I am amazed at the changes Morsberger did and how far Lawrenceville has come, especially with the recent incredible leadership of the City Council and Mayor. I look forward to the positive articles and news about Lawrenceville such as store openings, plays, restaurant reviews and of course the adorable pets up for adoption!! The negativity does not help Lawrenceville, and by not offering a solution to these negative issues it only hurts more. I would like to see Lawrenceville move forward with less negativity (and more events on the Square!).
Cindy Pitts Gilbert August 10, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Well Susan you completely lost my point. I have written plenty of articles on the sunshine and roses of Lawrenceville, I love Lawrenceville and the fact that I'm willing to speak out about when something is completely wrong and hurting people means I care. I love the Aurora and I love that people haven't given up. Yes we had a parking lot behind our building and would have gone out of business much sooner than 9 years if that parking lot was suddenly taken away. It was a deciding factor for us opening the business where we did. People need to understand the why's behind something that happens to a business and how a decision hurts others. I feel for Domminicks and LaQuezula the most because they can't provide ample parking for their customers. Restaurants need ample parking the most. I'm am sorry if that offends you. You have to understand that not talking about the issues doesn't help them go away. Negativity is sooo not the point. Making a difference is. Your blinders concerning a wrong that is happening is part of the reason that the businesses can't make ends meet. Sorry that you just can't see the forest for the trees. More events is always the answer for someone who doesn't understand. Most of the merchants lose business on those days. ask them.
Frank T August 10, 2012 at 12:44 PM
morseberger did it for his own pocket. no one else.
Cindy Pitts Gilbert August 10, 2012 at 07:09 PM
I just posted to pictures today of the open parked Sysco truck in front on Oyster Bay unloading and blocking 1 lane of traffic at 11:45 today. So Sorry I left Oyster Bay out of my comments earlier. I know this has got to be difficult for your business as well. My parking experience ended up being about 1/2 mile from my destination.
Eric G Reid August 11, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Susan - That's tell the truth the current owners did not buy it at a discount .. the previous owners lost them in a foreclosure / bankruptcy and the Morseberger group has sent letters to the current tenants - telling them he knows that without parking their business will be harmed so they should call the new ownership and have them buy the parking lot and if it cause a hardship so sorry .. it is basically if I cant play first base then I am taking my bat and ball and going home letter.. I agree he owns it he can do what he wants -- the sad thing is Yes the Morsberger Group has done a lot for the city and those elected but now because of business decision that did not work in their favor (filing bankruptcy to remove debit owned and wanting to keep the assets) they are putting a strangle hold on small business and the city.. and that just is not good neighbor to neighbor business. I have suggested he rent the lots for flea markets on weekends, open weekend / evening pay parking, have a voucher system that downtown business can validate parking if they wish .. they are many ways they can add to the quality of life the down town district but he has opted to plant 2x4s, comes down to being a good neighbor and moving forward in this difficult economy . Sure a 2x4 farm is not the highest and best use of this land
Eric G Reid August 11, 2012 at 01:58 PM
also I am sure that many of the business where on a Percentage Lease – This involves a base rent, plus an additional amount based on the profitability of the business in that location. For example, the commercial leasing arrangement a retail store might have would be to pay $1,000 per month and 3% of monthly gross receipts over $25,000. The percentage could be calculated on the total gross receipts, rather than “over” a certain amount. So buy allowing the Domminicks and LaQuezula, Oyster Bay to use the parking lot was not an act of good will but a return to the property lease holder by providing more parking resulting in more business ie more revenue for the restaurants and in turn the Morsberger Group. Again it is not about their rights to do as he please with their parking lot .. but doing something positive for everyone (city,local businesses, and the Morsberger Group). Be a Good Neighbor

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