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Cricket League Owner Agrees To Buy Gwinnett Place Mall For 20,000-Seat Stadium

An ailing mall close to Atlanta is on the verge of being repurposed into a stadium to watch one of the world's most popular sports.

Gwinnett Place Mall in suburban Atlanta was one of the sites where Stranger Things' third season was filmed.

A Dallas-based company is under contract to purchase the indoor retail portion of Gwinnett Place Mall for an undisclosed sum, with plans to transform the 1.2M SF regional mall into a cricket stadium, former Global Sports Ventures Chairman Jignesh “Jay” Pandya confirmed to Bisnow.

The current owner of Gwinnett Place Mall's main retail complex, Las Vegas-based Moonbeam Capital Partners, is joining forces with Pandya in an organization called CricRealty Co. The company was founded to help push the development of eight cricket stadiums across the U.S. to house a new league. Bisnow first reported in 2017 that the organization expressed interest in Gwinnett Place Mall. Global Sports Ventures has since morphed into CricRealty Co.

CricRealty has already announced plans for a 15,000-seat cricket stadium as part of a larger, $500M mixed-use development in Allen, Texas, a suburb 25 miles north of Downtown Dallas. CricRealty, using JLL, is scouring the U.S. for seven more stadium sites, including in Chicago, Orlando, Washington, D.C., New Jersey, New York and California.

Pandya said the plans for Atlanta are still in the working stages, but would include a 20,000-seat stadium surrounded by a mixed-use project. While Moonbeam CEO Steven Maksin is part of CricRealty, the sale would completely transfer ownership of Gwinnett Place Mall to Pandya, he said. Moonbeam officials did not return calls seeking comment.

Pandya has previously said Atlanta is an ideal market for a cricket league given its population of people of Asian and Indian descent. The sport is among the most popular worldwide with major leagues in England, India, Pakistan, Australia, South Africa and the Caribbean.

Gwinnett is home to the largest Indian-born population in the state with 6,575 residents, according to the Atlanta Regional Commission. More than 110,000 residents in the 10-county Atlanta metro area were born in Asia, 21,454 of whom were born in India, according to the ARC. 

The stadium would be good news to Gwinnett County officials, many of whom have long expressed a desire to see not only a redevelopment of the mall, but of Moonbeam's exit from its ownership. Since Moonbeam purchased it from foreclosure in 2013, the owner has done little to turn the mall around, prompting growing frustration from some county officials.

Perhaps the most significant turn for the mall was its use as the set for Netflix's third season of "Stranger Things," although that was a temporary use.

There still remain a number of hurdles for this vision to become reality, not the least of which will be ultimate approval by county commissioners. Pandya said his firm is seeking incentives to help finance the project. Messages to Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash and a county spokesperson were not returned as of press time.

Partnership Gwinnett is enthusiastic for the active redevelopment happening throughout Gwinnett and the recent momentum specifically in the Greater Gwinnett Place Mall area,” Partnership Gwinnett Senior Vice President of Economic Development Nick Masino wrote in an email to Bisnow.

Ackerman & Co. President of Retail Leo Wiener.

There also is the question as to how CricRealty would coordinate the development with the four other owners of the mall's department store anchors, including Macy's and Northwood Ravin, which purchased the shuttered Sears anchor in 2018 with plans to redevelop it.

Macy's and Northwood Ravin did not return calls seeking comment. Pandya declined to comment on this aspect of his plans.

Nonetheless, there is hope that there may finally be light at the end of Gwinnett Place's long, dark tunnel.

“I'm a supporter of any redevelopment that happens at that mall,” Ackerman & Co. Retail President Leo Wiener said. "I think it's pretty clear its current state is not a viable option … as an economic stimulus for the area."

Wiener is the board chairman of the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District and owns a large retail center off Pleasant Hill Road across from the mall.

“I am looking forward to see how this unfolds,” Wiener said.

CORRECTION FEB. 28 11:45 A.M. ET: Thakkar Developers is only partnering with CricRealty Co. on a planned Allen, Texas cricket stadium and is not a member in the company. Jignesh Pandya also is head of CricRealty Co. and no longer Global Sports Ventures. The story has been updated.