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Gwinnett Village leaders get a look at gambling proposal

NORCROSS -- The argument can -- and has -- been made on whether Georgia should allow casino gambling, in terms of video lottery terminals.

But in the Gwinnett Village community, where a $1 billion development featuring a gaming floor is proposed to redevelop an underutilized business park, the question Thursday centered on whether it would be good for the neighborhood.

"I do not want our quality of life to suffer on something that may be a negative," Laylene Shaw said Thursday after developer Dan O'Leary pitched his idea to the board of the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District.

The district was formed six years ago by business owners willing to pay an extra tax to fund improvements to the dilapidated area, from road and pedestrian enhancements to landscaping and security patrols.

Some business and neighborhood leaders questioned whether the development would erase the years of work to improve the area, while others said the high-class tourist destination could only enhance it.

"It's going to improve the community, improve Gwinnett County and overall, the state of Georgia will have a more recognizable name in the country," said Shiv Aggarwal, the CID board president whose Global Mall is across Jimmy Carter Boulevard from the proposed development, which would be at the OFS site along Interstate 85.

Aggarwal pointed out that the project would not only add jobs to the community -- an expected 2,500 permanent full-time jobs with the first phase -- but it would provide a huge boost to the CID in terms of property taxes. The money, he said, could in turn build more enhancements like a needed reconstruction of the Jimmy Carter bridge over the interstate or an extension of public transit.

And surrounding businesses and hotels would see a boost to business, he added.

"It's like a chain reaction. It's going to get better and better and better," Aggarwal said.

Davida Baker, who has lived in the community for 30 years, said her neighbors are mostly supportive of the plan, but their major concern is how the attraction would add on to the already crippling traffic congestion.

"The surface streets are clogged any time of the day or night," Baker said. "Personally, I don't (gamble). It's not of interest to me. I'm interested in ameliorating the affect on the area."

O'Leary, the man behind the planned development, noted during his presentation that he faces an uphill battle to build the center.

While the Georgia Lottery Corporation has the ability to expand its program to allow for video lottery terminals, which look like slot machines but work like scratch-off tickets, board members have said they would wait for direction from the governor and legislators before moving forward. Gov. Nathan Deal has said he does not support any type of casino gambling.

But O'Leary said his plan to enhance the revenues of the struggling HOPE Scholarship by $350 million a year has been gaining in support.

"If this project is built, we will be a great corporate citizen ... and the best way to do that is to start an open dialogue," he said of his reason for making a presentation to the CID board. "I wanted to make sure (community leaders) had the opportunity to ask questions."

Comments

NewsReader 2 years, 1 month ago

To each his own retirement plan!

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laxcoach 2 years, 1 month ago

Agreed. I don't like to gamble, personally, but if the development is done well, it could help the area. I'd visit for the restaurants and other entertainment. Only issue I see is increased traffic - they definitely need to incorporate a good transportation plan in the development.

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R 2 years, 1 month ago

Already there Why it's the "Deverging Diamond Interchange" here to save the day!

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R 2 years, 1 month ago

“Gov. Nathan Deal has said he does not support any type of casino gambling.”

The Gov. “It’s a fee, not a tax” Deal says he doesn’t support tax increases either, so he travels around supporting TSPLOST.

Give the gaming issue 12 months and you’ll be GOLDEN or apply grease and it could turn sooner…

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teelee 2 years, 1 month ago

Quality of life issues in Norcross? Sorry Laylene you are 25 years too late. We all know only the state government can run gambling operations in Georgia anyway.

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kevin 2 years, 1 month ago

Again, there ate way too many flaws in this type of business, much less having it along I-85. 1) everything being pushed are "estimates", pure and simple estimates. What happens once this huge place is built and nothing is realized for any long period of time? 2) It is easier for this guy to go before the CID because they are much easier to persuade and payoff than high profile politicians. 3) The state officials are NOT trained in how to "audit" such digital machines. In all other casinos, the crooks can steal money and also reset those machines chances of winning. Just a simply flickering of the lights can reset most machines. They are also put into "banks" of maybe 6-12 machines, with the odds of winnig split between those "banks." Each bank of machines is controlled by software, which is controlled by casino staff/owners and can be manipulated. 4) Who in the world from the state is going to be located in that facility to monitor all of this? I guess it will turn out like all the rest of these, as along as money is flowing to the state, all must be good enough inside the casino. 5) The high-class tourists they talk about do not go into metro-Atlanta. They normally stay inside the city and just a lottery casino is not going to draw them outside Atlanta. 6) In time, I bet you anything, they will be adding slot machines. 7) There is NO guarantee anything close to $350 million a year will go to HOPE. This is their biggest "hope" to sell the idea first to the easy folks, the CID, whose only interest is in more money as well. 8) As for property taxes, Gwinnett is great for providing new a new business with free taxes to come here, at our expense in the long run. The State may also chip in free or lower taxes, also at our expense. 9) I really doubt their 2,500 permanent employee "guess" will be close. Maybe a few hundred part-time people will apply. 10) Casinos normally never close. 24/7 traffic and crime. 11) It is usually low to middle class people that would go to this type of gambling. The high rollers do play video poker nor lottery terminals. Everyone involved is looking at this venture as a "cash cow" and Gwinnett does NOT need such a gigantic out of place facility in our neighborhood. In the end, it isn't so much the type of business, but the location and the "expected" benefits for all involved. The owners will surely clean up over this as the county will later on be granting waivers to them to expand this facility to include many more things, like hotels, retail, and different forms of gambling. I do not see the estimates becoming real, only the owner's profits and developers making money from this.

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Don 2 years, 1 month ago

Let us see gambling and drinking along I-85 corridor! Looks like DUI revenue should go up for the GCPD.

I do not think this is the right location, it needs to be located downtown for all the people attending conventions will use it. Nob ody will want to stop going through town to Florida or werever.

Look at places like Tunica MS, Silver Star, Biloxi all of these location were outside of a major city but have become a destination resort for golf course, sporting clays, boating/fishing etc. We do not have the land at this location to put these amenties in.

If Herschel Walker wants to open a restaurant then I would strongly suggest Athens and not so close to Tech.

The chances of this passing are slim,

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