Gwinnett to demolish, redevelop Olympic tennis stadium

Gwinnett County plans to acquire and demolish the former Olympic tennis stadium near Stone Mountain – a move that could clear the way for private development of the property.

The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Tuesday approved a land swap that will make the county the new owner of the stadium on Bermuda Road near U.S. 78. Under the plan, Gwinnett will spend nearly $1.2 million to buy a 35-acre tract adjacent to the park in DeKalb County, then turn it over to the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, the state authority that owns the park. In exchange, the association will give Gwinnett the 24-acre stadium site, which lies within the county’s borders.

County Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash said the deal will allow Gwinnett to control a key gateway to the county. She said the county likely will solicit proposals from private firms interested in redeveloping the stadium property.

“One of our board’s strategic initiatives is to promote economic development and redevelopment in key locations,” Nash said in announcing the land swap. “This site is the southern gateway into Gwinnett County along U.S. 78 from metro Atlanta and is a natural fit for redevelopment.”

The deal could bring to an end nearly two decades of fruitless efforts to put one of the last prominent vestiges of Atlanta’s 1996 summer Olympics to good use.

After the Olympics, the Stone Mountain Memorial Association tried various ways to make the 8,000-seat stadium pay for itself. None of them worked. In 2012, a private developer submitted plans to use the site and surrounding property for a mammoth athletic, commercial and residential complex, but the proposal went nowhere.

Gwinnett County could acquire the property by November, with solicitation of private development proposals to follow in the future. Nash said Gwinnett County could continue to own the property, with private developers responsible for any improvements.

But she said demolition of the aging stadium is needed for any project to move forward.

“It’s got to come down,” she said. “It’s got to be demolished.”

To obtain the stadium property, Gwinnett will buy a tract adjacent to the Stone Mountain golf course. The property is currently owned by GSMC LLC. The county will then swap that tract for the stadium property.

Perry Tindol, a member of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association board, called the deal “a good transaction for both the county and the association.”

“The county obtains a property for future development in a strategic area and the association is able to further project the boundaries of the park,” Tindol said.