Area property owners support ‘bold’ criticism of Gwinnett Place Mall

One entrance to Gwinnett Place Mall near Duluth. TYLER ESTEP / TYLER.ESTEP@AJC.COM

One entrance to Gwinnett Place Mall near Duluth. TYLER ESTEP / TYLER.ESTEP@AJC.COM

The group representing some 180 property owners from the area surrounding Gwinnett Place Mall offered support Wednesday for statements made last month by the county's top economic recruiter, who lambasted the mall's owner and called for it to be replaced.

Nick Masino — the chief economic development officer for Partnership Gwinnett, an arm of Gwinnett County’s Chamber of Commerce — said during a June forum that, despite floating grand visions for the mall’s future, Gwinnett Place owner Moonbeam Capital Investments  “do[es] nothing.” Masino argued that nothing would change for the once-proud mall until Moonbeam was gone.

During a Wednesday morning meeting of the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District, CID vice chair James Song read a lengthy statement expressing “complete support” for Masino and his “bold, informed and direct public comments.”

“While the CID leadership appreciates the positive impact the mall has historically had on our area, we all realize that dramatic changes must occur if this area is to remain successful,” Song said. “Closing our eyes to these challenges will only lead to decline and failure ... We hope the comments will become a catalyst for change.”

Moonbeam purchased Gwinnett Place Mall late 2013 and, in January, floated plans for a grand makeover that included demolishing one department store to build apartments and converting two other wings into office space. The company said it would submit redevelopment plans to the county in March.

That never happened and, in May, CEO Steven Maksin declined to offer a new timetable.

In the aftermath of Masino's June comments, Moonbeam marketing and leasing director Anna Khavulya released a statement defending the company.

In his own statement during Wednesday morning’s meeting, Song said the CID will “continue to provide appropriate support to the mall’s current owners, while actively seeking opportunities to not only give the property a future, but also positively impact the district.”

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