Private investors put their money where they believe they’ll get the best return, and local governments do their best to attract those investments by building solid infrastructure and offering quality of life amenities.
Here in the Gwinnett Place area – the central business district of Gwinnett – commercial property owners are working with each other and the County through the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District to protect their investments by leveraging tax dollars to make the area more attractive.
Traffic counts approaching 60,000 vehicles per day at the new Pleasant Hill Road diverging diamond interchange on I-85 point to the vibrancy of Gwinnett Place. And recent headquarters locations of Hollis Cobb, Iconex Global, M&I Materials US, BI/Merial US, and Hendrick Automotive demonstrate the value of a prime location combined with public-private investments in upgraded streetscapes and landscaping.
We are building on the strength of our international diversity, including the International Night Market that drew tens of thousands over three days this past spring and the many tempting restaurants that Explore Gwinnett touts as “Seoul of the South.” Gwinnett Place is quickly becoming a destination where you can “discover the world in one location,” as Joe Allen likes to say.
The County’s investments in the area this year include developing a second phase at nearby McDaniel Farm Park and working with the CID to add streetlights along a section of Shackleford Road. Together we are rebuilding Gwinnett’s traditional central business district. Of course it takes time, but step-by-step progress is visible.
The Venture Drive Overlay District is one of several tools available to attract new investments. The overlay offers zoning incentives and design standards to promote a mix of high-end, dense residential, commercial, and office development. I’m excited by the preliminary plans I’ve seen for the Gwinnett Prado, for example, and look forward to seeing what happens there in the future.
Gwinnett Place Mall is a real challenge. With a great location, it was the first shopping destination in the county. But as age, online competition, and two other malls took their toll, this mall has struggled to redefine its relevance. I believe we must attract more people to live, work, and play in the area, creating a marketing opportunity for all sorts of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. The recent opening of Macy’s Backstage at the mall is a hopeful sign, but obviously more needs to be done.
Gwinnett Place’s natural advantages like its central location and easy access to the interstate highway system, along with many housing options, good schools, talented workforce, and nationally recognized parks will continue to make it a desirable place for residents and businesses to call home.
Now is the time to build on these many strengths and adapt our built environment to attract people of all ages who seek the benefits of a live-work-play community. I am confident that in time our collective efforts will make this desired outcome a reality.
About Jace Brooks
Jace Brooks was first elected to the Board of Commissioners in a special election to fill a vacancy in district 1 and took office in September 2012. He is now serving a second four-year term that started in January 2017. District 1 includes Suwanee, Sugar Hill, Duluth, and parts of the Collins Hill community.
A Louisiana native, Jace relocated to metro Atlanta in 1994 and made Suwanee his home three years later. He has served in the leadership of Gwinnett and Suwanee government and business affairs for more than a decade. Jace served for 10 years on the Suwanee City Council, which included multiple turns as mayor pro tem. He currently serves on the board for the North Gwinnett Schools Foundation and the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Jace is a business consultant working with companies such as The Table Group. He earned a Bachelor of Science in finance from Louisiana Tech University and two master’s degrees, one from Georgia State University and another from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Jace and his wife, Kirste, have been married since 1993 and have twin teenage children, Aidan and Ally. He and his family are active members of Gwinnett Church.