Julio Jones an investor in massive development near Mall of Georgia

A massive mixed-use project planned near the Mall of Georgia has at least one very famous backer: Atlanta Falcons superstar receiver Julio Jones.

The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners approved last week plans for the development, which would pack a mix of shops, office space, apartments, condos and a 21-story hotel onto 16 acres off Woodward Crossing Boulevard.

On Tuesday, developers Ivy Creek Partners LLC officially announced that Jones — who's fresh off a record-breaking 300-yard performance on the football field — is among its "principle investors."

"Julio Jones is not only a NFL star but is also a smart businessman and philanthropist," Ivy Creek's Jonathan Garza said in a news release. "His vision for the new development is to create a safe, dynamic, highly livable area that people will be comfortable to call home while welcoming others to visit and enjoy."

Jon Guven of Guven's Fine Jewelry is also an investor in the project, which is expected to cost about $180 million, the news release said.

The development 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.

An attorney for the developers has called the project "a new center of gravity for the Mall of Georgia area and the I-85 corridor."

Tuesday's news release said that the first phase of construction could begin in the second quarter of 2017. That phase will include 23,000 square feet of retail and 336 apartments.