On August 2, Gwinnett County’s Board of Commissioners officially adopted a priorities outline for the Gwinnett Place Mall Equitable Redevelopment Plan. A developer purchased the mall for $20 million in 2020, and, notably, is a primary filming location for the Netflix series Stranger Things.
Only a few stores are still operating inside the mall, including Macy’s, one of the mall’s longest operational stores. This summer, the county proclaimed a campaign to revitalize Gwinnett Place Mall and the surrounding communities by focusing on “affordable housing, neighborhood services, incentives for existing businesses in the area, job support, and a central location with regional and accessible transit.”
Many long-time residents of Gwinnett have fond memories of the mall, which was built during a time of significant growth in the county. Unfortunately, the mall could not withstand changes in consumer behavior and the economy, and it now occupies a large portion of the space at the center of a community renowned across the nation for its vibrant diversity.
A 90-acre megadevelopment called Global Villages will take the place of the deteriorating mall. According to the proposed design, Global Villages will include seven residential communities arranged around a 4.5-acre park. The development might include up to 100,000 square feet of retail space, 25,000 square feet of office space, and 2,700 residential units.
There are multiple phases to the plan, 11Alive local news reports, including:
- Build affordable housing on the redeveloped mall site.
- Provide neighborhood services on the redeveloped mall site.
- Encourage the incubation and growth of small businesses in the redeveloped mall site; create a resource hub in the redeveloped mall site.
- Incentivize developers to hire locally and prioritize contracting with local small businesses and residents of color; attract employers who will provide living wages; provide workforce development programs in the redeveloped mall site.
- Cultural Activity Center: A space to celebrate Gwinnett’s diversity. It will include a well-designed greenspace and transit connectivity within and around the redeveloped mall.
The county is directly involved in the plan, including the redevelopment of the iconic mall, which holds a lot of memories for the adults who grew up in the area in the 1980s and 1990s.
Gwinnett Commission Chairwoman Nicole Hendrickson said in a statement, “By creating a community-driven redevelopment process and listening to the priorities of Gwinnett residents, the plan can respond to community needs, create an innovative cultural destination and attract new economic opportunities. We are proud to adopt Gwinnett County’s first Equitable Redevelopment Plan that is focused directly on equity, is informed by thousands of community touchpoints, and will lead Gwinnett Place Mall into its next phase.”
The county is working with residents to also introduce new programs and protections for neighborhood well-being. The county has gained national recognition due to Stranger Things, but county planners want to focus on local development.
According to other news reports, the Commission is prioritizing the creation of an “Affordable Housing Trust Fund to prevent indirect displacement of residents.” They also plan to create incentives to provide affordable housing options in the community.
So, what’s next for the redevelopment? The county is creating an advisory group now for a “center community voice in the redevelopment” of the mall, which will “inform planning, design, and construction on the mall site, as well as monitor the redevelopment process and the impact on surrounding neighborhoods.
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