Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth has fallen on hard times. The area has noticeably declined since its glorious opening in 1984 as the county’s first ever supermall. Competition from the nearby Discover Mills Mall and the Mall of Georgia, dragging consumer spending (a legacy of the 2008 recession), and a burgeoning global preference for online shopping have left the mall in dire straits. The property was foreclosed on in 2012, forcing its manager Simon Property Group to sell its interest. Things did not get much better after that as longtime anchors Belk and JCPenney jumped ship in 2013 and 2015, respectively. In 2013, so many tenants had left that more than 50 percent of the storefronts were empty.
There is hope on the horizon though. The Gwinnett Board of Commissioners is making redevelopment of the area one of its top priorities for the next year. An article from the Gwinnett Daily Post laid out two possible redevelopment projects that are aimed at revitalizing the mall and its surrounding area. Here is a summary of each.
The ACTivate Gwinnett Place master plan
- Created by the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District (CID).
- Puts a traffic circle (basically a larger roundabout) at the intersection of Pleasant Hill Road and Satellite Boulevard.
- Improves the area for pedestrians by increasing the number of trails in the area and connecting McDaniel Farm Park with the mall.
- Includes aesthetic improvements to the streetscapes on Mall Boulevard and Gwinnett Place Drive.
The Venture Drive Redevelopment Overlay District
- Created by the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners.
- Focuses on developing the area south of Pleasant Hill Road, specifically by building high-rise buildings.
- Adds office and residential space to the area to complement the already heavy retail presence.
Both of these plans will need a little help from the free market if they are to come to fruition. District One Commissioner Jace Brooks, a leading proponent of the projects, said, “We don’t really own much property over there if any at all. I mean, we have a park over there, but we don’t own a lot of these properties that can be redeveloped, so we’re dependent on the private market to do its thing.” The good news for Gwinnett County is that taxpayer dollars are available to help. Brooks indicated that some of the projects might find their way onto the 2017 SPLOST list. It looks like capitalism will save the day again. Or something.