County Chairwoman: Revel Won't Cannibalize Momentum For Gwinnett Place Mall Redevelopment
Now, as a new developer buys a stake in the ailing mall, a prominent Gwinnett County official does not see history repeating itself with another major nearby development taking shape.
North American Properties' aggressive plan to redevelop the county's convention and events arena just 4 miles north of Gwinnett Place would add some 400K SF of retail and 800 apartment units in a mixed-use project called Revel, and new developments around the Mall of Georgia area in Buford add to the competition. But Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said the county's sheer population growth will feed demand for even more retail at the circa 1980s mall.
“We have another half-million people headed to Gwinnett County between now and 2045,” Nash told an audience at Bisnow's Exploring Gwinnett County & Northeast Atlanta event on Wednesday at Satellite Place. “I don't think [Revel] is going to be a competition to Gwinnett Place Mall. There's a lot of synergy that will be created.”
Talk of the fate of Gwinnett Place Mall has heated up in recent weeks after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed that North Carolina-based Northwood Ravin was in talks to purchase the soon-to-shutter Sears anchor, along with 11 acres around it.
Since then, Northwood Ravin and the mall's main owners, Las Vegas-based Moonbeam Capital — which has been a frequent source of frustration for Gwinnett officials — have been silent. Moonbeam picked up the bulk of Gwinnett Place Mall out of foreclosure in 2013 for $13.5M, according to county records, a far cry from an original $115M loan on the property. Macy's still owns its own store at the mall.
But while Northwood Ravin has been mum on the fate of the Sears, many speculate that the developer could turn it into some form of a multifamily project. After all, that is Northwood Ravin's specialty.
“We've talked with them. They have not announced their plans,” Ackerman & Co. Retail President Leo Wiener said. "But as I said to people, they're not doing this for practice."
Wiener — who partly owns a significant retail center off Pleasant Hill Road across from Gwinnett Place Mall and is the board chairman of the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District — said Northwood Ravin's plans will “ignite the rest of the area.”
Topics at the event ranged from Gwinnett's plans to expand transit and incorporate into the MARTA system, infrastructure projects and rising rents at suburban apartments.
Gateway 85 CID Executive Director Marsha Anderson Bomar said there is a pipeline of $22M in infrastructure projects slated for the district over the next five years. The Gateway 85 CID, a self-taxing entity that uses the proceeds for various projects, roughly encompasses portions of Gwinnett along Interstate 85 that include Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Beaver Ruin Road.
Bomar said the district is looking to be part of a trail system that could stretch from Norcross all the way to the city of Lilburn some 7 miles away. Another project includes adding 5 miles to the district's 14 miles of sidewalks.
“Even in the suburbs, a lot of people walk. And in our community, a lot of people walk every day,” Bomar said. “You'll be able to go end-to-end in our district by foot if you so choose.”