In the spirit of March Madness, Urbanize’s first-annual Best OTP Downtown tournament is kicking off with 16 contenders vying for the prestige of being called the metro’s greatest. (Note: Seeding from 1 to 16 was determined by reader nominations this month, so no pitchforks, please.)

For each Round 1 contest, voting will be open for just 24 hours. Please, let’s keep the tourney fun and positive, as one OTP city center rises above the rest in very public fashion. The eliminations begin now!




Estimated city population: 21,000

Distance from downtown Atlanta: 32 miles

Secret sauce: George Pierce Park, with more than 300 versatile acres, is practically next door, connected by a lovely trail network

So far, Gwinnett County cities are (almost) undefeated in Best OTP Downtown action, and Suwanee’s vibrant city center is as well-poised to continue that streak as anywhere. Located in northwestern Gwinnett, just south of Lake Lanier, the City of Suwanee has seen its population nearly triple since 2000. The award-winning Suwanee Town Center—which started opening in 2005, punctuated by a City Hall that’s been likened to the Hall of Justice from “Super Friends”—is a big reason why. It’s home to an interactive fountain, amphitheatre, rollicking beer festival, and a connection to the Suwanee Creek Trail, a 4.5-mile paved path full of scenic boardwalks through the woods.  



Serenbe/Nygren Placemaking

Estimated full-time population: Less than 1,000

Distance from downtown Atlanta: 32 miles

Secret sauce: Horses

As master-planned communities go, Serenbe—described as a “wellness community connected to nature on the edge of Atlanta”—is a place like no other. Mixing urban and agrarian sensibilities across 1,000 rolling acres, Serenbe erected its first house in 2004 and now counts around 700 homes, ranging from industrial-hip apartments to spellbinding, multi-million-dollar dwellings. These meadows and winding lanes are home to horseback riding, cutesy boutiques, 16 miles of nature trails, a fish-stocked swimming hole, and a half-dozen restaurants and eateries from causal to upscale farmhouse affairs. Each of Serenbe’s “hamlets” has a corresponding commercial node, but for tourney purposes, Serenbe is walkable and bikeable enough to consider the full project one contestant collectively.

(POLLING HAS CLOSED AFTER 24 HOURS. Thanks to all who participated, and congrats to Suwanee, which advances to the 2023 Elite Eight round.)