What to do with an old mall? Gwinnett County asks the community for ideas

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Gwinnett County leaders are asking for ideas from the public on what to do with a closed mall.

Some envision a grand mixed-use site replacing what’s now the old Gwinnett Place Mall, but all ideas are on the table for what will happen to the building.

Channel 2′s Gwinnett County bureau chief Tony Thomas got an inside look inside the mall, where a movie is currently being shot. Otherwise, the mall is empty.

The county hosted an open house earlier this week to hear from residents about what they would like to see replace the mall.

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Gwinnett County chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson said there’s been a lot of interest in the 99-acre site.

“My hope is it’s open and running within my first term in office, or at least within my lifetime,” Hendrickson said.

The county owns 39 acres at the site. Four of the anchor stores and parts of the parking lot remain in the hands of private businesses.

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“We don’t plan to displace them,” Hendrickson said. “They are critical to the success of the area.”

After years as a prime hub of suburban retails, the 36-year-old building fell into disrepair. Shoppers went elsewhere and stores closed.

Macy’s is the only big-name retailer left. Two other anchors, a county-run vaccination site and movie productions fill parts of the 1.2 million-square-foot building now.

Shop after shop sits empty and holes remain in the ceiling from where mold was removed.

“Apartments would be better here, you know?” resident Nora Mithani said. “Because they have all the shopping centers here.”

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Hendrickson said there has been a lot of interest in developing the site, but the county promises community-wide input before finalizing a plan.

“We have gotten interest from all over the state, all over the country, even from overseas,” Hendrickson said. “People who have interest who want to do business and want to develop it.

Hendrickson said the county will take input through the end of the year and then team with the local improvement district for a study, which will take at least several more months.