Business officials behind the mysterious distribution center near Stone Mountain, so far referred to only as “Project Rocket,” are going to have to wait a few more weeks to find out if they have the blessing of commissioners.
The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners postponed a decision on a special use permit for the project to build a four-story, 2.5 million square foot facility on West Park Place Boulevard that would be 80 feet tall, nearly twice as tall as what county zoning rules allow.
The center has generated interest for a variety of reasons, from its size to the mystery surrounding who is planning to occupy it. There has been heavy speculation that online retail giant Amazon is behind it, but local officials have remained mum on who is behind it.
The property straddles the Gwinnett-DeKalb county line, however, and it’s being postponed to see what DeKalb officials do with its part of the property, where a driveway is proposed. Gwinnett commissioners will take it up again at its 2 p.m. meeting on Sept. 18.
“I have a lot of questions about this and I would like to see at least the DeKalb Planning Commission act on that request,” said County Commissioner Tommy Hunter, whose district includes the proposed site of the center.
It has been speculated that the facility could employ as many as 1,800 people because of the amount of parking it would have. In all, it would have 1,806 automobile parking spaces and 200 truck parking spaces, according to county documents. There would also be 65 loading dock doors on the west and south sides of the building.
Development of Regional Impact information filed with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs shows it is expected to be finished around June 2020.
It is a complicated case because the property crosses the Gwinnett-DeKalb line, although 78 acres are in Gwinnett while the remaining 11.5 acres are in DeKalb. While the building itself is on the Gwinnett side of the county line, a corner of the property where a driveway leading to Bermuda Drive would be located is on the DeKalb side.
But the project has brought opposition from residents in the area, on both sides of the county line, who are concerned about the truck traffic on Bermuda Drive as well as automobile traffic on West Park Place Boulevard.
Four residents from the area spoke against the proposal, citing its impact on traffic on Bermuda Road, West Park Place Boulevard and U.S. Highway 78, as well as the potential impact on home values and wildlife in the area.
“A development of this nature and magnitude we believe is not suitable for this area,” said Stone Mountain resident Paul Najjar, who said he was speaking on behalf of neighbors in his subdivision. “We believe that because there is nothing like it anywhere near this area, we believe that a development like this belongs, for example, up on the (Georgia Highway) 316 corridor.”
Officials view it as an economic game changer for the area though and while they can’t talk about the mystery company that wants to build the facility, they haven’t hidden their excitement either.
“This substantial capital intensive project in the southern part of Gwinnett County and in the Evermore CID is an absolute game changer for new investment in that area,” Gwinnett County Planning Commission Chairman Chuck Warbington said when that board recommended approval earlier this month.
“The economic impact from this project will be felt regionally and I fully support this request for a special use permit.”