I said to “stay tuned” for developing news on the Gwinnett Place area when I delivered my annual State of the County speech recently. Video and text of the speech are online at www.gwinnettcounty.com.
I said the County government is working with the Gwinnett Place CID to “turn concepts for connectivity and walkability into reality” and that we want to “encourage the private sector through incentives and public investment to convert parking lots and big retail spaces into mixed use developments.”
To create that environment, the County and the CID are working together to implement portions of the Activate Gwinnett Place multi-modal, green corridor initiative. With help from the Atlanta Regional Commission, the plan identifies catalyst projects for investments to improve transportation options, connectivity, and livability through greenspaces and infrastructure changes. Last year, we partnered with the CID to fund two feasibility studies of potential enhancements.
One study looked at pedestrian and cycling connections between activity centers in the greater Gwinnett Place area and the nearby McDaniel Farm Park, a 134-acre, restored 1930s farm and a great place to explore on foot. The 2017 SPLOST transportation citizens project selection committee is considering recommending funding for this project and another that would enhance pedestrian mobility on Mall Boulevard between Pleasant Hill Road and the ring road around the mall.
Another study focused on the intersection of Satellite Boulevard and Pleasant Hill Road. While the scope of these improvements has not been determined at this time, the citizens committee is proposing $1 million in seed money for the project.
The group has also recommended $1.75 million in matching funds to study new major crossings over I-85 and State Route 316. One of those crossings under consideration is a West Liddell Drive to Club Drive connector, south of Steve Reynolds Boulevard.
I’ve talked a lot about future plans. Now let’s look at some improvements that are on the ground now or are soon to be completed.
New sidewalks recently opened on Steve Reynolds Boulevard between Venture Drive and Shackelford Road, and an upcoming streetscaping project will soon beautify a stretch of Satellite Boulevard between Pleasant Hill Road and the Gwinnett Transit Center.
Gwinnett’s first diverging diamond interchange now spans I-85. Other major intersection improvements to help traffic flow along Pleasant Hill Road have been completed or are underway – at Gwinnett Place Drive, Breckenridge Boulevard, and Club Drive.
The Gwinnett Place Mall/Satellite Boulevard area already has Gwinnett’s highest concentration of office-based businesses. So making the area more walkable, dense, and green helps build a more sustainable future.
Gwinnett Place has long been Gwinnett’s “central business district” and, like aging downtowns across America, it needs new investments to revitalize it.
Government is doing its part. We’re working on infrastructure, zoning, and incentives to make private investments more attractive.
Just last year, the Board of Commissioners approved a Venture Drive Redevelopment District, an hour-glass-shaped area bounded roughly by Venture Drive, Steve Reynolds Boulevard, and Old Norcross Road and intersected by Pleasant Hill Road and Satellite Boulevard. Our goal is to promote a mix of high-end, dense, residential housing, commercial business and office buildings that offers recreation and walkability. In other words, the ideal end result will be a live-work-play environment that helps residents and employees go about their daily lives without having to get in a vehicle.
We look forward to interest from the development community and are excited to see what happens there over the next few years.
As I said in my remarks, I believe the State of Gwinnett County is remarkable – and Gwinnett Place is no exception!
Charlotte J. Nash was first elected Chairman of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners in 2011. She previously served as County Administrator for nine years during a 27-year career with Gwinnett County government before she retired in 2004. She graduated with honors from both Dacula High School and the University of Georgia, where she received a bachelor’s degree in accounting.