OFS redevelopment plans shelved

NORCROSS - A real estate development company that wanted to turn 75 acres of weedy parking lots and vacant industrial buildings into new condos and stores will have to put those plans back on the shelf.

Preferred Real Estate Investments was supposed to take a mostly abandoned section of the giant OFS fiber optic plant in Norcross at Interstate 85 and Jimmy Carter and remake it into the area's signature redevelopment.

But the sales contract between Pennsylvania-based Preferred and OFS "has been terminated," according to a letter the fiber-optic cable maker sent Monday to the Gwinnett County Planning and Development office.

The letter, written by OFS attorneys, asks the Gwinnett Planning Commission to delay indefinitely a rezoning decision on the property while a new buyer is sought.

The commission did so at its Tuesday meeting.

Preferred's contract would have enabled it to buy a little more than one-third of the OFS campus, which once housed the space and resources to make copper wire for telephone communication.

However, in the modern era of fiber optics, OFS no longer needs as many raw materials to make its chief product.

Once OFS decided a large part of the plant was no longer necessary, it wanted to find a way to make money off the property rather than watch it sit idle.

In May, the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners gave unanimous approval to treat Preferred's plans as a "mixed-use redevelopment," opening the door for public hearings on the project later this year.

Now, at least until a new buyer comes forward, that door is shut.