Norcross area improvement district to be largest in county

NORCROSS - The unincorporated area around Jimmy Carter Boulevard dubbed Southwest Gwinnett Village is on track to become Gwinnett's biggest community improvement district.

On Thursday, the amount of property signed up for the self-taxing district bypassed both the size and value of that in the Highway 78 Community Improvement District.

And next week, the future Norcross-to-Lilburn district is expected to bypass the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District, which formed in December.

So far, Southwest Gwinnett Village boosters have convinced 200 property owners with 350 commercial parcels to sign consent forms.

Their combined property values, including those of property owners that will be forced into the district, are $450 million, said Chuck Warbington, executive director of the Southwest Gwinnett Community Improvement Association.

In four weeks, the association will stop recruiting property owners, after which it will ask the Gwinnett Board of Commissioners to approve the district's creation.

The quasi-governmental districts are formed when a majority of commercial property owners agree to tax themselves and use the revenue for community improvements, such as landscaping, litter removal or security patrols.

The money can also be used to attract state and federal funds, making much larger projects possible, like new sidewalks and road upgrades.

The Southwest Gwinnett district is expected to have an annual budget ranging from $1.2 million to $1.5 million, Warbington said.

One of the first things the district will do is hire about a dozen off-duty cops to patrol the area, which will include Jimmy Carter Boulevard and portions of Buford Highway and Indian Trail-Lilburn Road.

District organizers - and a county report - say a CID would help stabilize and rejuvenate the swath of neighborhoods and business corridors between Norcross and Lilburn.

The area is plagued by crime, graffiti, traffic, outdated infrastructure, vacant shopping centers and neglected houses.

The county has also focused on stamping out urban blight in the area, and has targeted it for revitalization.