On behalf of the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District (GPCID) Board of Directors, who have worked tirelessly throughout the year to increase the economic viability and vitality of our district, I would like to share some of the many accomplishments that occurred in 2017 in Gwinnett County’s central business district.
While the district may only comprise one percent of the County’s land area, we play a significant role in Gwinnett’s overall economy. In fact, we are the County’s most significant and important employment and commercial area with more than 1,900 companies with a combined $1.3 billion payroll. The total economic impact of businesses in the Gwinnett Place Area of Influence last year was a staggering $9.5 billion. These are facts that we, and the public, sometimes fail to realize, but this area still commands a large level of importance. And, it is for these very reasons that we must continue to take more proactive action to stimulate the redevelopment of the Gwinnett Place area. If we fail in that endeavor, we risk the continued success of not only this area, but also of other surrounding areas and all of Gwinnett County.
Throughout 2017, GPCID embarked on an initiative we call Vision 2020 to encourage developers to take another look at Gwinnett Place for redevelopment opportunities. We have reached out to more than 70 local, regional and national developers to convey the story about Gwinnett Place. During 2017, we invested in obtaining the latest demographic and economic impact information to demonstrate why Gwinnett Place is the place for redevelopment.
On October 17, the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners (BOC) took a step forward in the eventual evolution of the Gwinnett Place area. Unanimously, the BOC voted to acquire several properties around the existing transit center across from Gwinnett Place Mall and a vacant movie theater on the opposite side of Ring Road. This effort builds upon the numerous multi-million dollar investments made by Gwinnett County and the CID over the years. These initial land purchases by Gwinnett County could have a positive long-term impact on Gwinnett Place and the area’s ability to further justify redevelopment, especially with the opportunities presented by future transit investments.
Again in 2017, GPCID continued to concentrate on making vital transportation improvements, increasing security, promoting economic redevelopment and beautifying our district. Thanks to CID-funded efforts, the Citizen Project Selection Committee dedicated millions of dollars in SPLOST funds for additional transportation projects benefiting the area. Last year, we saw the completion of intersection improvement projects at Old Norcross Road and Breckinridge Boulevard and along Pleasant Hill Road at Gwinnett Place Drive and at Sweetwater Road. Construction has recently finished on the improvements to Pleasant Hill Road at Club Drive project. Right of way acquisition began for future projects along Venture Drive at Day Drive and Steve Reynolds Boulevard. Working with Gwinnett Department of Transportation (DOT), all traffic signals were retimed in the area which increased the efficiency in which traffic moves through the district. We submitted the construction plans to complete the remaining streetscape enhancements along Pleasant Hill Road, with construction planned for later this summer. Also, design work continued to transform Gwinnett Place Drive and Mall Boulevard into complete streets with 90 percent of those plans recently submitted to Gwinnett DOT for review. Without the establishment of the Gwinnett Place CID, which provided the leadership and funding to execute many of the feasibility studies needed to advocate for these projects, it is likely none of these projects would have moved forward. In fact, the CID also provided partial funding for the construction to complete many of these proposed projects.
As redevelopment in the Gwinnett Place area is one of the BOCs’ stated focus areas outlined in their strategic priorities determined in 2017, the CID stands ready to partner with Gwinnett County leadership to boldly move the area forward. We continue to be major champions for and involved with the creation of the Connect Gwinnett Comprehensive Transit Plan and 2040 Unified Plan efforts that are currently underway.
Only by working in true partnership can we continue to set the table of success and drive the transformation that must occur in order for this area, and all of Gwinnett County, to be truly successful in the 21st century.
This blog post was written by Leo Wiener, chair of the Gwinnett Place CID board of directors
About Leo Wiener
Leo is chair of the Gwinnett Place CID board of directors and president of Ackerman Retail. His industry experience spans more than 25 years. Prior to joining Ackerman & Co., he was a principal and partner of Glenwood Development Company, concentrating on retail development and re-development in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, directing many of its key acquisitions, dispositions and financing. He was also managing director at a boutique real estate firm in Atlanta that focused on buying value-add retail and office properties for high net-worth family partnerships. Leo’s earlier career included various management positions at Eastern Airlines, Florida High Speed Rail Corporation and Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO).