Gwinnett County approves big development near Mall of Georgia

Gwinnett County commissioners Tuesday approved a densely packed mix of shops, offices and apartments near the Mall of Georgia.

The development on Woodward Crossing Boulevard would feature 162,000 square feet of retail space, including a grocery store and a family entertainment center. It also would feature 76,000 square feet of offices, 541 apartments, 42 condominiums and a 21-story hotel that would become Gwinnett’s tallest building. The tallest now is the 17-story Sonesta Gwinnett Place Atlanta hotel on Pleasant Hill Road.

Shane Lanham, an attorney for developer Ivy Creek Partners, said the project would be “a new center of gravity for the Mall of Georgia area and the I-85 corridor.”

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The Woodward Crossing property is one of several where Gwinnett officials have used zoning regulations to encourage urban-style development in Atlanta's largest suburban county. The idea is to diversify the county's tax base and encourage redevelopment.

Other examples include the OFS fiber optic plant near Jimmy Carter Boulevard at I-85 and the proposed Venture Drive overlay zoning district near Gwinnett Place Mall.

The development approved Tuesday is substantially different than the one that cleared the county planning commission earlier this month. It includes more apartments and less office and retail space.

No one spoke against the project at Tuesday’s public hearing. Nonetheless, commissioners imposed some restrictions. The developer cannot build more than 541 apartments, and no more than 8 percent of those can be three-bedroom apartments.

“We’ve learned that three-bedroom apartments make a much bigger impact on the number of kids,” Chairman Charlotte Nash said. “We’re conscious of what the impact might be on the school system.”

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