CIDs get grants to study financing, parking

LAWRENCEVILLE - Grants will allow redevelopment officials in the Gwinnett Place area to study parking and, in the Gwinnett Village area, financing.

The local Community Improvement Districts received two of six Livable Centers Initiatives grants awarded by the Atlanta Regional Commission on Thursday.

"The region's LCI communities have shown great commitment to developing innovative plans, but sometimes additional studies are needed to implement those plans. That's where the LCI Supplemental Study Program comes in," ARC's Land Use Division Chief Dan Reuter said in a news release. "Community by community, the LCI program has helped reshape metro Atlanta in a positive way."

The $45,000 grant for the Gwinnett Village CID, along with $45,000 in matching funds, will go toward investigating ways to use tax allocation districts to finance redevelopment.

Although county voters will consider the controversial funding mechanism in July after rejecting the idea in 2006, the district's boundaries include portions of Norcross, where a referendum passed last year.

"It's going to provide us the funding mechanism to get a lot of our infrastructure projects done," Gwinnett Village CID Executive Director Chuck Warbington said, adding that July's vote will determine the direction of the study, expected to be complete by the end of the year. "Whether it's through the county or the city, I think there will be a TAD in the area. We thought it would be a good idea to put some thoughts and numbers with it."

For the Gwinnett Activity Center, the mall area CID will match the $30,000 grant to create a parking management plan.

According to the ARC news release, the study will cover issues of shared parking and pedestrian connections as well as consider a parking deck.

Gwinnett Place CID Director Joe Allen said that as the area evolves from strictly commercial to a mixture of shops, offices and even homes, the current "sea of parking" needs to change along with it.

Officials hope to bring greater density to developments there, including the possibility of skyscrapers, so building a parking deck makes sense, Allen said.

"With this you can make a greater and better use of the property," he said, explaining that the structures would allow room for greenspace. "This builds upon what we've been doing. It takes it to that next level, identifying some solution."