Duluth Asian retail center to include hotel, market

DULUTH - A lumber yard on the edge of the city is giving way to a Korean-American shopping center and hotel.

Bulldozers have already cleared the 24 acres on North Berkeley Lake Road that belonged to Mickey's Lumber & Supply Co., and workers will soon begin erecting a two-story shopping center that will be shaped like a U and wrap around a parking lot.

The Asian-themed retail center will be anchored by an international food market, said Rick Onorato with The North Point Group. He declined to identify the grocers because the Alpharetta-based developers have not finalized a deal with them.

Several other international and specialty grocery stores already exist within a few miles of the location including Super H-Mart, Harry's Farmers Market, International Farmers Market and a host of smaller food stores catering to Gwinnett's increasingly diverse population.

The development will be in an area known by some in metro Atlanta's Korean American community as new Korea town. It will join other Duluth-area projects undertaken by Korean American investors.

The 104-room, four-story hotel will be built later since no hotel company has been lined up to buy or operate it, Onorato said.

The hotel would be the first inside the Duluth city limits and it would be comparable in size to others clustered along Venture Parkway near Interstate 85 and Gwinnett Place Mall.

Unlike those, Onorato said the new lodgings just a few hundred feet from Buford Highway would be more of a "destination hotel."

"It will be a Korean owned and operated hotel and it will be more of a destination place for them," Onorato said.

Pre-sales have begun for shop space in the retail center and all buyers have been Korean-American, Onorato said.

A two-story golf driving range with 40 tee boxes will occupy the rear of the development being undertaken by local and out-of-state Korean-American investors, Onorato said.

Duluth Mayor Shirley Lasseter beamed about the project and revenue it will bring the city.

"It will be our first hotel," Lasseter said. "We don't even have an ordinance for a hotel/motel tax, but the city attorney is drafting one right now."

Across North Berkeley Lake Road from the hotel site, a row of two-story shops and offices is underway.

While on a tract adjacent to the hotel site, other developers are putting in a QT convenience store, with a mini-storage facility behind it. Another retail center will go beside the gas station and will front Buford Highway.

Lasseter said Mickey's Lumber is relocating.