LAWRENCEVILLE - Shiny new development will come to Jimmy Carter Boulevard - a thoroughfare many people associate with aging shopping centers, graffiti and crime.
But other than being a mix of different land uses - like shops and residences - the folks behind the project say they don't know exactly what it will be.
Preferred Real Estate Investments, however, did confirm Tuesday that it is buying 75 acres of the OFS campus that is a landmark along Interstate 85.
And OFS BrightWave, whose parent company is based in Japan, reiterated that it will keep the remaining 120 acres that hold its corporate headquarters and a fiber-optic cable plant.
Preferred, which specializes in redeveloping old factories and warehouses, said it will not decide what to build on the highly visible tract until it meets with people who have a stake in Jimmy Carter Boulevard.
"Our intention at this point is to sit down with the community and collaborate on what we are going to do together to bring the best value to this land," said Preferred spokesman Scott Tattar.
"There is no plan yet," he said. "The plan is to sit down and talk with the neighbors."
Preferred has already talked with some community leaders. One said a conceptual plan he was shown called for mid-rise buildings with street-level shops and upper floors filled with condos. A hotel and conference center was also discussed, said Chuck Warbington, executive director of the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District.
Preferred, which is based in a Philadelphia suburb, would not disclose the purchase price for the industrial land that must be rezoned by Gwinnett County commissioners before mixed-use development can go there.
The deal between OFS and Preferred is subject to some contingencies. If they are met, Preferred will finalize the transaction this fall.
People involved in efforts to rejuvenate the Jimmy Carter Boulevard corridor applauded the purchase of the OFS property with a track record in redevelopment.
One of them, state Sen. Curt Thompson, of Norcross, said it could lead to other properties being upgraded.
"Just like urban decay creeps, urban revitalization creeps," Thompson said. "If this is a successful project, it will encourage other redevelopment."
County commissioners adopted rules in December that allow mixed-use development in business centers along I-85.
The OFS property marks Preferred's first foray into the Southeast. It has a track record of redeveloping complex industrial sites in the Northeast and Midwest.