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POPULATION ___________________________



Table of Contents ________________________ page 3n n Introduction __________________________________________ 1 Suwanee, Past and Present _____________________________ 1

Population and Household Trends ____________________________________1 Population by Age _________________________________________________3 Race and Sex Characteristics ________________________________________5 Educational Attainment _____________________________________________6 Income__________________________________________________________7

n n

Suwanee Tomorrow ___________________________________ 9

Housing and Population Forecasts ____________________________________9

Summary and Needs Assessment ________________________ 9

The Suwanee Town Master Plan______________________________________________________________________ 3-i

Chapter 3: Population _____________________________________________________________________ n

3-ii _____________________________________________________________________ The Suwanee Town Master Plan

POPULATION ___________________________

n Introduction



An understanding of a community's past, present and projected population characteristics serves as the basis of any comprehensive planning effort. This chapter provides basic information about Suwanee's residents and households, including trends over the past several decades, the population's current characteristics, and forecasts of the future. When combined with development opportunities and constraints contained in the Historic and Natural Resources chapters, this chapter provides a basis for the Economic Development, Transportation, Community Facilities, Housing, and Land Use elements of the Comprehensive Plan. Future population and housing data, along with future employment forecasts, help determine demand for housing and employment opportunities, infrastructure improvements, and land development patterns that are consistent with the goals and policies established in the other elements of this plan. In many instances these characteristics are compared with those of Gwinnett County, the Atlanta Region and the State in order to provide regional and statewide comparisons. Population characteristics analyzed include the number of people and households, age, sex, race, educational levels and income.


Suwanee, Past and Present Population and Household Trends

As recently as 30 years ago, Suwanee was a small town lying along the Southern Railroad. Access to Atlanta was provided by U.S. 23 and Interstate 85 (via the Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road interchange.) The city consisted of only 615 persons clustered near the historic downtown and scattered along nearby farm roads. As the Atlanta region has grown northerly over the last thirty years, jobs and workers have moved to Gwinnett County in increasingly large numbers. Between 1970 and 1990, Gwinnett County's population increased by 388%, from 72,349 to 352,910 (an increase of 94,554 between 1970 and

Population & Households Suwanee: 1970--2000

10,000 9,000 8,000 7,000 6,000 5,000 4,000 3,000 2,000 1,000 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000



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1980, and 186,007 between 1980 and 1990). By 1998 (the latest Census estimate) the county had grown by another 169,185 people to over 522,000. At this pace, the county will have added over 232,000 during the last decade, reaching a population of more than 585,000 by 2000. With the explosion of growth into Gwinnett County, Suwanee boomed as a bedroom community. The population of Suwanee almost doubled between 1970 and 1980, and grew by 135% times between 1980 and 1990, to 2,412 persons. Since 1990, Suwanee's growth has quickened to an estimated population of 9,191, 3.8 times as many people that lived here 10 years ago. The number of households, which includes families as well as individuals living in dwelling units, has increased in pace with population growth. From 1970 to 1990, the number of households grew from 186 to 769, and then added another 2,302 during the 1990's. Table P-1 shows these population and household figures for the city, including the 2000 estimate.

Table P-1

Population and Household Trends

City of Suwanee

1970 Total Population Number of Households Average Household Size* 615 186 3.43

1975 823 248 3.32

1980 1,026 320 3.21

1985 1,476 475 3.11

1990 2,412 769 3.02

1995 3,935 1,241 3.10

2000 9,191 3,071 2.96

*Based on population in households only (excludes population in group quarters). Source: U.S. Bureau of Census, 1970 through 1990; 1995 & 2000 -- see Appendix A.


The Atlanta region provides the economic engine that creates jobs and drives popula-

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Table P-1 also shows the city's average household size for each 5-year increment since 1970. Like the rest of the country, as well as Gwinnett County, the average size of Suwanee's households has been falling, from over 3.4 in 1970 to an estimated 2.9 today. In comparison, however, the city's households have consistently averaged more people than the county overall, and the difference has grown over the years. This reflects an increasing proportion of individuals and small families living in the county, while Suwanee has continued to reflect a "traditional family" environment.

Average Household Size

4.0 3.5 3.0 2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 0.0 1970 1980

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tion increase throughout the area. From 1970 to 1998 (the latest Census estimate), the average annual rate of increase in population in the Atlanta Region has been relatively steady, as shown on Table P-2. (Of course, a steady rate of increase reflects an ever-increasing number of people added each year.) The location of that growth, however, has varied as new development has sought land resources farther and farther out from Atlanta. Simultaneously, sub-regions in the metropolitan Atlanta area have created their own employment base, becoming more independent of the central city. In fact, Suwanee's three commercial areas, I-85, PIB and Old Town have been growing steadily in the past decade. Suwanee's unique characteristics, outlook and desire for future development will continue to foster a positive environment for future growth and development. The wave of growth into Gwinnett County, and subsequently into Suwanee, is clearly evident from the data on Table P-2. Although the number of people added to the Gwinnett population has been greater in each decade since the one before, the actual rate of increase has trended down from almost 9% per year in the 1970s to 5% per year in the 1990s. In contrast, the average annual rate in Suwanee has increased each decade, as growth has moved up the I-85 corridor from Norcross to Duluth to Sugar Hill, and from Lawrenceville toward Braselton, over the years. During the 5-year period alone from 1995 to 2000, 1,830 new housing units were built in several subdivisions and two large apartment complexes. Today, Suwanee lies in the fastest growing area of Gwinnett--a broad crescent from Suwanee to Dacula. This "northern arc" roughly parallels the path of the Outer Loop from the Chattahoochee River to Ga. 316 and beyond. This same "northern arc" is projected by Gwinnett County to experience the highest percentage of change over the next 20 years-- exceeding 300%.

Table P-2

Comparison of Population Trends

Suwanee, Gwinnett County, Atlanta Region and the State

1970 Suwanee Gwinnett County Atlanta Region* Georgia 615 72,349 1,503,122 4,589,575

1980 1,026 166,903 1,896,277 5,463,105

1990 2,412 352,910 2,513,612 6,478,216

1998 6,872 522,095 3,116,436 7,642,207

Average Annual Rate of Increase 1970s 1980s 1990s 5.25% 8.72% 2.35% 1.76% 8.92% 7.78% 2.86% 1.72% 13.98% 5.02% 2.72% 2.09%

*Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale Counties. Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census.

Population by Age

Suwanee has experienced a large amount of in-migration over the last thirty years, appealing primarily to families with children. This is evidenced by the age breakdowns for Suwanee since 1970 shown on Table P-3.

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Table P-3

Population by Age

City of Suwanee

1970 Number Percent 0 to 4 5 to 14 15 to 24 25 to 34 35 to 44 45 to 54 55 to 64 65 & older 48 126 108 84 65 82 64 49 7.7% 20.1% 17.3% 13.4% 10.4% 13.1% 10.2% 7.8%

1980 Number Percent 61 187 170 186 142 91 114 75 5.9% 18.2% 16.6% 18.1% 13.8% 8.9% 11.1% 7.3%

1990 Number Percent 218 399 242 473 597 220 133 130 9.0% 16.5% 10.0% 19.6% 24.8% 9.1% 5.5% 5.4%

2000 Number Percent 723 1,601 828 1,268 2,396 1,184 685 506 7.9% 17.4% 9.0% 13.8% 26.1% 12.9% 7.5% 5.5%










Source: U.S. Bureau of Census, 1970 through 1990; 2000 -- see Appendix A.

In 1970 and 1980 the largest percentage of Suwanee residents were in the 5 to 14 age group. In 1990, however, the largest age groups in Suwanee were the 25 to 34 and 35 to 44 age groups while the proportion aged 15 to 24 dropped dramatically. Current estimates of age distribution reflect an increasing proportion in the 35 to 44 group and (notably) the group 45 to 64, while the proportion of elementary and middle school-aged children (5 to 14) remained very strong.

Age Distribution Suwanee: 1970-2000

30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% 0 to 4 5 to 14 15 to 24 25 to 34 35 to 44 45 to 54 55 to 64 65 & older

2000 1990 1980 1970

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Over the past 30 years, the proportion of children in the elementary and middle schoolaged group (5 to 14) has remained relatively constant. Since 1980, the shift in the proportion of "parent-age" adults from the predominant 25 to 34 group to the now predominant 35 to 44 group suggests two trends: 1) the early in-migration of young families with children has shifted to families that have older (and presumably more affluent) parents and 2) families have settled in Suwanee, put down roots and grown older. The continuing aging of the resident population as the kids go off to college or jobs is also evident in the trends among those over 45. The proportion of residents in the 45 to 54 group has risen steadily since 1980, while the percentage in both the 55 to 64 group and the 65 and older group fell between 1980 and 1990 but has begun to increase since then.

Race and Sex Characteristics

In 1980, the non-white population in Suwanee represented almost 15% of the total population, or 151 persons. By 1990, the total non-white population increased slightly to 154, but decreased proportionally, falling from almost 15% in 1980 to 6.4% in 1990. Among nonwhites, the number of Blacks increased by only 3 people between 1980 and 1990, while the number of Asians held steady. While the city contained a few people of Hispanic origin in 1990, all were Cuban and classified by the Census as White or "other." Currently, the proportion of non-white residents in Suwanee continues to be very low.

Table P-4

Racial Characteristics

City of Suwanee

1980 Number Percent White Nonwhite: Black American Indian, Eskimo or Aleut Asian or Pacific Islander; Other Subtotal--Nonwhite 875 85.3%

1990 Number Percent 2,258 93.6%

104 47 151

10.1% 4.6% 14.7%

107 47 154

4.4% 1.9% 6.4%

Total Population Hispanic Origin*

1,026 3

100.0% 0.3%

2,412 29

100.0% 1.2%

*All Hispanic persons in 1990 were classified by the Census as "White" except 4 "Other." Source: U.S. Bureau of Census; 1990 -- STF1A tape.

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Suwanee's decrease in non-white population is not consistent with trends in Gwinnett County, the Region and the State. Increasingly, non-whites have been attracted to the Atlanta Region, and the increase in Gwinnett County has been proportionally higher. Between 1980 and 1990, while the percentage of non-whites in Georgia increased only 1.1% (from 27.8% to 28.9%), the percentage in the Atlanta Region increased from 27.3% to 32.9%, and the proportion living in Gwinnett County grew from 3.4% to 10.6%. The fastest growing minority group in Gwinnett County was Asians, which increased over 10-fold in population between 1980 and 1990, from 927 to 10,219 persons. Blacks remained the largest minority group in Gwinnett County, with 18,175 persons in 1990, an increase of about 340% over 1980. The Gwinnett Hispanic population increased over 5-fold during this same timeframe, from 1,356 to 7,044 persons. Future trends in minority population characteristics in Suwanee are expected to show an increased number of minority residents. While the 1980-1990 increase in minority population in Gwinnett County was concentrated in the Norcross-Lilburn area, movement north up the I-85 corridor reasonably can be expected. However, because the total increase in new residents will be so large, the proportion of minority residents will continue to remain small. In 1990, the male population in Suwanee represented a clear majority of all residents, unlike the characteristics of Gwinnett County or the State. While Gwinnett County had a mix "close" to 50/50, the State's population had a decided trend toward a majority female population. The State's split between males and females is more typical of the population in general, where females outnumber males primarily because of longer life expectancies. The departure from this "norm" in Suwanee, however, is not expected to reflect a trend or to have any influence on future plans for the area.

Table P-5

Population by Sex--1990

Suwanee, Gwinnett County and the State

Suwanee Male Female % Male % Female 1,229 1,183 51.0% 49.0%

Gwinnett County 175,529 177,381 49.7% 50.3%

Georgia 3,141,761 3,336,455 48.5% 51.5%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Census, STF1A database.

Educational Attainment

In 1990 (the only year for which comparative data are available), 24% of the residents of Suwanee 25 years and older had graduated from high school but had not gone on to college. This percentage is close to the figure for Gwinnett County as a whole (25.7%) and for the surrounding counties (25.3%). The percentage of residents lacking a high school diploma in Suwanee in 1990 was 22.1%, considerably higher than the 13.3% for Gwinnett County overall. At the other end of the scale, 27.2% of Suwanee's residents in 1990 were college graduates, which compares favorably with the proportion of college graduates in Gwinnett overall (28.6%) and the surrounding counties (27.5%).

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Table P-6

Years of School Completed--1990

Suwanee and Gwinnett County

Suwanee Number Percent Less than 9th grade 12th grade, no diploma High School Graduate Some college, no degree Associate degree Bachelor's degree Graduate degree 161 195 388 340 94 307 132 10.0% 12.1% 24.0% 21.0% 5.8% 19.0% 8.2%

Gwinnett County Number Percent 9,923 19,493 56,615 52,196 16,941 48,222 17,059 4.5% 8.8% 25.7% 23.7% 7.7% 21.9% 7.7%

Neighboring Counties* Number Percent 39,436 65,299 122,440 95,374 28,233 87,151 46,131 8.1% 13.5% 25.3% 19.7% 5.8% 18.0% 9.5%

Georgia Number Percent 483,755 686,060 1,192,935 684,109 199,403 519,613 257,545 12.0% 17.1% 29.6% 17.0% 5.0% 12.9% 6.4%

Total--25 or older









*DeKalb, Barrow, Forsyth, Hall and Walton Counties. Source: 1990 Census, STF3A database, U.S. Bureau of the Census.

Suwanee's educational levels surpassed those of the State in 1990. Of the State's residents 25 years and older in 1990, 29.1% did not have a high school diploma (compared to Suwanee's 22.1%). College graduates holding either a bachelor's degree or a graduate degree represented only 19.3% of Georgia's residents, whereas of Suwanee's residents, 27.2% were college graduates. During the 1990s, Suwanee has seen a major influx of families that are both affluent and well educated. Although more recent data than 1990 are not available, it is anticipated that the educational attainment of Suwanee's residents has increased considerably over the past 10 years and will continue to do so.


Table P-7 compares the median household income and per capita income levels of the City of Suwanee with those of Gwinnett County and the State in 1990. Median household income is an important indicator of the affluence of a community's households, since financial well-being and most major financial decisions are based on family income. Per capita income is the average amount of income per person in a given area, which in combination with median household income is indicative of the "buying power" of residents. In 1990, the per capita incomes for Suwanee's residents and for Gwinnett County as a whole were very close. However, Suwanee's households were somewhat more affluent than the county's, since median household income was 12% higher, reflecting the larger number of people per average household in the city. Compared to Georgia, the wealth of Suwanee's population is clear with median household incomes 68% higher than the State.

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Table P-7

Household and Per Capita Income--1990

Suwanee, Gwinnett County and Georgia

Suwanee Per Capita Income Median Household Income $17,301 $48,750

Gwinnett County $17,881 $43,518

Georgia $13,631 $29,021

Suwanee Compared to: Gwinnett Co Georgia 96.8% 112.0% 126.9% 168.0%

Note: All figures in 1989 dollars. Source: 1990 Census, U.S. Bureau of the Census.

The proportion of households by income grouping in 1990 is also indicative of the city's higher income status. Table P-8 groups Suwanee's 1990 households roughly in quartiles by income. Between Suwanee and Gwinnett County there was a rough equivalency in the proportion of households making between $35,000 and $75,000 (50.6% and 49.3%, respectively). A much larger proportion of Gwinnett's households fell into the lowest income quartile, however, while Suwanee's households outpaced Gwinnett's in the highest quartile (over $75,000) proportionally by 3 to 2.

Table P-8

Income Groups-1990

Suwanee, Gwinnett County and Georgia

Suwanee Less than $34,999 $35,000 to $49,999 $50,000 to $74,999 $75,000 or more 27.13% 23.57% 27.01% 22.29%

Gwinnett County 35.94% 24.09% 25.17% 14.80%

Georgia 59.35% 17.79% 14.44% 8.43%

Suwanee Compared to: Gwinnett Co Georgia 75.5% 97.8% 107.3% 150.6% 45.7% 132.5% 187.1% 264.5%

Note: All figures reflect 1989 dollars. Source: 1990 Census, Bureau of the Census, U.S. Dept. of Commerce.

Current data is not available regarding income levels in Suwanee today. However, based on home sales prices and apartment rental rates prevalent in the city, it can be surmised that the majority of the many households moving into the city since 1990 continue to be

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considerably more affluent than the State as a whole and are at the upper end of the spectrum for Gwinnett County. In the Zip Code area that includes Suwanee, for instance, demographic surveys by a private market data firm (Claritas Inc.) indicates that per capita income had grown to $29,346 by 1999, while the median household income had grown to $70,077.


Suwanee Tomorrow

The Suwanee Comprehensive Plan forecasts population growth to the year 2020. These projections are summarized in this chapter and are discussed in detail in Appendix B. Importantly; the forecasts are made for the city, as the city limits exist today. Future annexations, which may or may not occur, cannot be anticipated because of the myriad of factors (both political and financial) that go into a property owner's request for annexation or approval by the City Council.

Housing and Population Forecasts

Table P-9 shows the housing units, households and population in Suwanee back to 1990, and forward to 2020 in five-year increments.

Table P-9

Housing and Population Forecasts

City of Suwanee Increase 2000-2020 1990 Housing Units × = × = + Percent Occupied Households Average Household Size* Population in Households Population in Group Quarters 825 93.2% 769 3.02 2,320 1995 1,312 94.6% 1,241 3.10 3,844 2000 3,199 96.0% 3,071 2.96 9,099 2005 4,903 96.0% 4,707 2.91 13,676 2010 6,615 96.0% 6,350 2.86 18,158 2015 7,804 96.0% 7,492 2.83 21,186 2020 8,081 96.0% 7,758 2.81 21,781 12,682 139% 4,687 153% Number 4,882 Percent 153%









Total Population










* Persons per household--2005-2020: Atlanta Regional Commission RTP Alt. 4 times Suwanee multiplier (see Appendix B).


Summary and Needs Assessment

Suwanee's population has increased dramatically over the past thirty years, propelled by the rapid growth into Gwinnett County as it reached out to the "northern arc" of the

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county. Suwanee's location and accessibility to Interstate 85 offered large lots, large houses and suburban living for persons wishing to locate outside the urban core of Atlanta. Suwanee's population today is 1,500% of what it was in 1970. The population gain has been a combination of new growth combined with rapid annexation in the 1980s. Suwanee's population is projected to increase 138% over the next twenty years to 21,900. This projected growth will affect the service provision and land use patterns of Suwanee over the next twenty years. The influx of new residents has changed the socioeconomic characteristics of Suwanee dramatically. The trends of the 1980s, during which the per capita and average household incomes increased over 200%, have continued and probably accelerated during the 1990s. Some data about Suwanee's households and individuals are difficult to obtain, such as incomes and educational attainment. Of the people living in Suwanee today, the vast majority were not in the city when the last Census was taken. Some data is clear: The average household size in Suwanee is still about 3 persons per household, which is above State trends. This indicates a large number of families with children in Suwanee, and this trend is expected to continue.

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