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Gwinnett to study Duluth library sites

DULUTH - Gwinnett County is going to study three sites being considered for a new Duluth Public Library and report back to the city in two weeks.

Although Mayor Nancy Harris, members of the Duluth City Council and the Downtown Development Authority disagree on which site to recommend, they assured county and library representatives at a meeting Monday that they all want it downtown.

Steve North, director of Support Services for Gwinnett County, was assigned the task of reviewing the sites, potential construction costs and legal issues relating to ownership and funding.

A two- or three-story library in an urban setting that includes retail is being eyed for the new facility, according to Gwinnett County Public Library Executive Director Nancy Stanbery-Kellam.

The DDA recently voted 3-2 to support placing the library in a planned redevelopment of the old city hall block. The other two choices are located on Main Street across from the new City Hall and on Hill Street behind the new City Hall. The city owns most of the property on the former city hall site. It would have to purchase the Main Street or Hill Street site.

Residents also have expressed varying opinions on the three sites.

Placing the library in the redevelopment project would serve as a catalyst for it. The library reportedly would represent about 67 percent of the 80 percent pre-leasing required for the developer to obtain financing

"We're interested in what works for the library," said Councilman Doug Mundrick, "and we want to make a decision soon. We want to start marketing the other two properties."

Gwinnett District 2 Commissioner Shirley Lassiter, former mayor of Duluth, favored locating the library in the redevelopment project. "This site would be more preferable to us," Lassiter said. "It would work well for your downtown as well."

The new 22,000-square-foot library would replace the existing library.