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Cricket Group Eyeing Gwinnett Place Mall For Atlanta Stadium

An ailing mall in the northern suburbs of Atlanta could get new life as a cricket stadium.

Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth, Ga.

Gwinnett Place Mall, just outside Duluth, is one of the locations Global Sports Ventures is eyeing for a venue. The Pennsylvania company announced plans last week to unroll eight initial professional cricket teams in the U.S. along with cricket stadiums. GSV Chairman Jignesh “Jay” Pandya confirmed the site to Bisnow during an interview earlier this week.

GSV tapped JLL's Atlanta office to conduct a stadium site search in Atlanta and seven other cities: New York; East Brunswick, New Jersey; Washington, D.C.; Orlando, Florida; Dallas; Chicago; and San Francisco. Pandya did not disclose other potential sites of interest in Atlanta.

Global Sports Ventures Chairman Jignesh "Jay" Pandya

“We're looking all over the market,” JLL International Director David Demarest said. "Certainly Gwinnett [County] would be part of our search options."

Demarest and his team assisted the Atlanta Braves in establishing the new SunTrust Park and The Battery at SunTrust Park mixed-use development in Cobb County. Demarest did not comment on Gwinnett Place Mall. The owner of Gwinnett Place Mall, Moonbeam Capital Investments, did not respond to inquiries.

“I understand that representatives of an individual interested in bringing professional cricket to Gwinnett have talked with the Gwinnett Sports Commission regarding that idea. To my knowledge, if the cricket group is talking with any property owners in Gwinnett‎ about property for a cricket stadium, that is a discussion between private parties, and the County is not a party to such discussions,” Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash stated in an email to Bisnow.

Global Sports Ventures announced last year that it entered into a $70M licensing agreement with the USA Cricket Association to establish eight professional cricket teams in North America, spending an estimated $2.4B in infrastructure and business development. And Pandya – who owns 150 Checkers, Pizza Huts and Dunkin' Donuts as well as real estate across the country – has an aggressive timeline: to unfurl the debut season for eight teams by 2020.

“That is a very ambitious goal and we hope to achieve that,” Pandya said.

Rendering of a proposed cricket stadium and mixed-use development from Global Sports Ventures

None of the cricket stadiums will be a small facility. Projected to cost between $70M and $125M with an ancillary mixed-use component of up to $100M each, the projects could include a stadium between 18,000 and 26,000 seats, parking, a clubhouse, restaurants, hotels, retail, residential and office space, officials said.

“These are not just cricket-centric stadiums. These are multiuse stadiums,” Pandya said. “Our goal is that something is played constantly so the place is not dark all the time.”

Pandya said the initial markets were chosen based on having sizable populations of Asian and Indian residents. Of the 883,000 residents in Gwinnett County as of 2016, nearly 104,000 are of Asian decent, according to a report by Esri.

A new buyer with concrete plans to redevelop the mall off Pleasant Hill Road, even as a cricket stadium, could be music to the ears of some county officials. Recently, Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President of Economic Development Nick Masino called for Moonbeam Capital to get out of Gwinnett Place Mall's ownership.

“We have to replace Moonbeam development. They talk and talk and talk and do nothing,” Masino said when asked about the status of the 1.2M SF indoor mall's redevelopment. “The answer is we don't have a professional developer who owns the property who knows what the hell they're doing. So we need to get rid of them."

Las Vegas-based Moonbeam Capital Investments purchased Gwinnett Place Mall in 2013 after special servicer C-III Asset Management foreclosed on the property for $39M, a far cry from an original $115M loan on the property.