Gwinnett Place Mall exterior

The entrance to Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth can be seen in this 2019 file photo. Gwinnett commissioners, acting in their capacity as the Gwinnett Urban Redevelopment Agency, voted to buy most of the Gwinnett Place Mall property on Tuesday.

Gwinnett Place Mall has been maligned by residents, business leaders and elected officials in recent years because of its struggles as tenants and shoppers left, but it may be about to turn a corner.

At the very least, it will have a new owner — and this one answers to the residents of Gwinnett County.

County commissioners, acting in their role as Gwinnett’s Urban Redevelopment Agency, voted to let the county buy 39.06 acres at the mall for $23 million. They then immediately turned around at another meeting right afterward and voted, in their capacity as commissioners, to approve a resolution ratifying the action they took less than an hour earlier as the URA board.

“I am very excited about this purchase and sale agreement, the first step towards closing on this property,” outgoing Commissioner Jace Brooks said. “Obviously the Gwinnett Place area is like the county’s central business district and this has sort of been like a glaring hole and I look forward to this purchase and working the anchors owners, as well as the (Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District) and the community to redevelop this area.”

Gwinnett Place Mall Property.jpg

The total acreage listed for the purchase matches the acreage listed in county property tax records for the interior of the mall and the former Belk property, all of which are owned by Moonbeam Properties. The purchase does not appear to include the Macy’s, Mega Mart, Beauty Master and former Sears anchor spaces, however.

The purchase of the mall may be something of an early Christmas gift for the incoming Board of Commissioners, which will only include two of the current commissioners as well as three new commissioners.

One of the incoming commissioners, Kirkland Carden, had advocated the county buying the mall when he was on the campaign trail this year. Carden will replace Brooks as the commissioner who represents the area that includes Gwinnett Place Mall once he takes office on Jan. 1.

“While 2020 has been an extremely challenging year, it could not have ended on a more positive note for the Gwinnett Place area and the county as a whole,” said Gwinnett Place CID Executive Director Joe Allen, who has long promoted the need for the mall to be redeveloped. “This is very good as we continue to deal with our dead mall problem. I think this is an amazing, bold first step for (the commissioners to take).”

Access to much of the inside of the mall had been blocked off in recent months with only one wing of the mall, between Mega Mart and Macy’s, still open to the public because it was the only part of the mall that still had a handful of shops or other tenants, including the Gwinnett County Republican and Democratic parties.

It was not immediately clear what the county plans to do with the property, partially because most of the commissioners who voted on the purchase will no longer be in office in a few weeks.

“The purchase of this property by the Urban Redevelopment Agency will help encourage the redevelopment of the whole Gwinnett Place Mall as contemplated in the county’s 2040 Unified Plan,” county attorney Mike Ludwiczak said.

With other properties that the county has purchased in recent years, including most of the OFS site off Jimmy Carter Boulevard and the former Olympic Tennis Center site near Stone Mountain, the county has purchased the property and then made plans to offer the site up to redevelopers as a public-private partnership to see what developers could come up with for the site.

Luxury apartment developer Northwood Raven already owns the former Sears anchor spot, including that anchor’s parking area, and is expected to eventually redevelop that part of the site with residences. The fact that Macy’s, Mega Mart and Beauty Master own their respective anchor spots adds complications to how the site can be redeveloped.

“Congratulations to Commissioner Brooks,” outgoing commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said. “I know that this is something that he has pushed for, I think, about his entire time in office. We know that this area is primed for redevelopment and we’ve finally getting to the point where we’ve got a willing seller that gives us an opportunity to move forward on it. I’m excited as well.”

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.

(4) comments

irishmafia116

Are you kidding me? These people are out of control!!! They are on a major buying spree with taxpayer money while ignoring the everyday needs of the county !

Baseball stadiums, tennis courts, transportation hubs, malls, and a wishful tech park ! None of these have come to fruition as promised and in fact have gone the opposite direction. The nearly abandoned mall sold for $10 million dollars LESS 7 years ago and has fallen into disrepair., but these bozos paid way over estimated value for the property. Just yesterday we were told our water/sewage bills would increase significantly because of poor planning and failure to keep up with needed repairs. 39 new developments currently under way with no plans to handle traffic, need for more police, fireman, EMT's , water ,schools etc. But yeah lets overspend and buy a mall . God help us!

asheldon

Good move at the price by the commission. I'm sure the plan is too spin it off to the right developer with some promise of infrastructure improvements and potential development of the transit station. County ownership allows them to control who the purchaser is and what they intend to do with the property. I dont believe much wil l happen until we pass a transit referendum which will pay for expansion of transit and the need for redevelopment of the transit center at the mall although there may be other options to move it forward. Once the commitment is there to develop the transit center the other pieces should fall into place. A potential earlier option to a referndum is the upcoming SPLOST renewal.

duke4172

I would love to see the property revamped and an outlet mall and some decent restaurants on the property! This mall area could do a great business if handled correctly! We need some places to shop without going broke! Tanger would be perfect here!

xphactor1

That's an awesome idea!

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