An expansion of a major mixed-use development which hasn’t even broken ground yet received the green light to proceed this week.

County commissioners recently approved rezoning for the second phase of the Exchange at Gwinnett project, which will be located near the Mall of Georgia at the Buford Drive and Interstate 85 interchange. The expansion is expected to add a food hall, “natural grocer,” movie theater and a microbrewery or brew pub among other amenities to the Exchange mixed-use development.

“This is a development that has been a long time in the marking,” said Shane Lanham, the attorney for Fuqua Development, which is working on the Exchange project. “A lot of time and effort has been spent studying the site, working on layouts and working with (county) staff.”

The entire Exchange at Gwinnett development is considered a major project for that part of the metro area. Lanham said the 65-acre first phase was deemed a “Development of Regional Impact” or DRI, which meant a review by state and Atlanta Regional Commission officials was required, and that the 35-acre second phase was considered its own separate DRI.

The first phase of the Exchange at Gwinnett was approved last fall but had not begun construction as Fuqua Development sought the county’s approval for the expansion. Golf entertainment chain Top Golf has already sought permits to begin work on its planned location at the site, however.

The second phase, which will be at the intersection of Buford Drive and Laurel Crossing Boulevard, will include residential, commercial, entertainment, “doggie daycare” and medical office uses.

There will also be a large town green, which Lanham said will be the “showpiece” of the expansion.

“(It will be) a real focal point or gathering place for residents and also visitors to the site,” the attorney said. “It’s a large, call it a town green or common area, where you could do demonstrations, you could do yoga on the green and have a screen to stream live sporting events or live music.”

Lanham also said the food hall will be another “interesting use” for the site.

“It’s similar to some in-town uses where you’ve got young or creative chefs that are wanting to be out in this area but aren’t necessarily at a point whether in their business or in their restaurant concept to make a big investment to buy property or pay rent on an entire restaurant building,” Lanham said.

“These food halls can kind of serve as restaurant incubators where you’ve got these chef-driven concepts where they can come in they don’t have to buy or lease a restaurant. They can get a stall here and prepare their food and folks can come in. There’s shared tables, facilities and services.”

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I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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