One of the hot topics in the Gwinnett Place area lately is the new Venture Drive Overlay District, finalized by the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners in December 2016. It is a bold step to ensure the transformation of Gwinnett’s central business district at Gwinnett Place.
Gwinnett County leadership and the Gwinnett Place CID share a commitment to see Gwinnett Place become a diverse, liveable, urban, and green community. We at the County are working in partnership with the CID to fulfill its mission to enhance the vitality of Gwinnett’s central business district by strengthening the area’s role as the center of economic and employment activity.
The purpose of the Venture Drive Redevelopment Overlay District is to promote a mix of high-end, dense, residential housing, commercial businesses, and office buildings while offering residents opportunities for recreation and alternative modes of transportation.
How does it work?
Overlay districts establish alternative land development requirements within a specific area, usually by superimposing new rules instead of, or in addition to, the existing zoning. The Venture Drive district has two unique features.
First, unlike other Gwinnett overlays, which emphasize aesthetics, the Venture Drive overlay allows for more density and unlimited building heights. Second, unlike the underlying zoning, a streamlined approval process means no public hearing is required for proposed developments.
By encouraging efficient land use, we can create a live-work-play environment designed to reduce single-occupant vehicle trips while encouraging the revitalization of underutilized commercial areas into pedestrian-oriented developments. Win-win!
Why Gwinnett Place?
- Prime spot within a regional mixed-use area
- Centrally located and highly visible
- Opportunities to improve under-performing commercial developments
- Access to interstate highway
- Suited to potential future mass and rapid transit options
- Appealing base of young, professional residents who are comfortable with urban amenities
- Demographics and market characteristics suggest a significant unmet demand for urban experiences
- Currently offers unique shopping, dining, entertainment, and recreation experiences
- Important employment center with more than 64,000 employees within 3 miles
- Near McDaniel Farm and Shorty Howell parks, Infinite Energy Center, and a host of other popular amenities
What are the advantages of real estate development in the overlay district?
- Fewer restrictions spur innovative and creative mixed-used developments
- Compressed timeline:
- Conventional rezoning – 12 weeks, on average
- Overlay district – 4 to 6 weeks, on average
- Instead of a public hearing:
- Pre-application meeting with Planning & Development
- Submit a request for Special Administrative Permit (SAP)
- County comments are provided within three weeks after SAP request
- SAP is issued within 10 days of resubmittal after comments are addressed
- Expedited Development of Regional Impact process
- Conventional process – 35 days, on average
- Expedited process – 15 days, on average
In collaboration with Gwinnett County Economic Development and Partnership Gwinnett, the Gwinnett Place CID Board of Directors recently budgeted funds to create an integrated marketing communications and outreach plan to promote awareness of the area’s redevelopment opportunities and available incentives, including the Venture Drive Overlay District.
We are already seeing interest in the overlay’s advantages by a number of potential developers. The most well-known is the Gwinnett Prado shopping center redevelopment effort, which is currently in the design phase. Once redeveloped, Gwinnett Prado will feature a mixture of retail, office, hotel, multi-family residential, and green space.
If you are a developer who wants to take advantage of this incentive and others available within the Gwinnett Place CID, contact Susan Owen with Gwinnett Planning & Development at 678-518-6034 or Susan.Owen@gwinnettcounty.org to set up a pre-application meeting.
Kathy Holland was appointed director of the Gwinnett County Department of Planning and Development in July 2016. She began her career with Gwinnett County as a senior development review analyst, a position she held for 15 years before leaving to start her own consulting business in 1997. After five years in the private sector, Kathy returned to Gwinnett County in February 2002 as development review manager. She was promoted to development division director in January 2005 and then became the department’s deputy director in March 2014.