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OFS signs deal to develop land

LAWRENCEVILLE - Plans to build an Atlantic Station-like project near Interstate 85 and Jimmy Carter Boulevard moved a step closer to reality when a Norcross fiber optics company signed a contract with an Atlanta developer.

Sherry Salyer, a spokeswoman for OFS Brightwave, said the contract with developer Mallory and Evans was signed Nov. 26. She said more details on the company's plans would be released in January.

County Commissioner Bert Nasuti, who represents the area, said the plan to put housing, offices and high-end shops on 75 acres of an industrial site would be wonderful for spurring redevelopment in the area.

"I've been watching it with great excitement and anticipation," Nasuti said. "It's the doorstep to the county."

Salyer and others have been quiet about the plans for redevelopment, which they said this summer were threatened by a bid to build a waste transfer station near their property. The waste transfer station was rejected, but the threat led the company to speak up about prospects for the land, which they said would inject millions of dollars into the local economy.

Nasuti said he thought a mixed-use development would further other revitalization efforts nearby and Chuck Warbington, director of the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District, called the OFS property a catalyst site for major changes in the area.

"It needs to happen sooner, rather than later," Warbington said. "That's a massive project. It's really going to go a long way."

The property's proximity to Atlanta and the fact that it is the single largest industrial tract in the county make the land prime for redevelopment, Nasuti said.

But this is not the first time a mixed-use project has been proposed on the land. Last year, OFS sued Preferred Real Estate Investments, a Pennsylvania firm that planned to buy and develop the property.

OFS claimed the real estate developer did not pay $5 million it owed for the purchase, which was set to close last September. Anthony Collins, an attorney for OFS, said Wednesday that the case was settled earlier this year.

Warbington said he was confident that this time the deal would go forward.

The fiber optics company owns 170 acres on their campus, and plans to continue operating on the property. In addition to Mallory and Evans, Warbington said George Lane's Lane Company was a partner in the project.

Salyer said Mallory and Evans was one of the developers for Atlantic Station, a downtown Atlanta project that turned an old steel mill into a 138-acre living and shopping destination with more than 10 million square feet of retail, office and residential space. The company has also worked on other high-end projects across the country.

David Garrett, the chairman of Mallory and Evans' board, could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.