Most of the stories coming out of Gwinnett County have something to do with the oversupply of retail and the area’s struggle to remain relevant in a world being overtaken by online shopping and next day delivery. We have written several articles on the future of struggling retail assets like Gwinnett Place Mall, which went to a special servicer last year. One thing is definitely clear for those involved in real estate and development in Gwinnett – no more retail. But what about all of the existing (yet vacant or dilapidated) retail space?
According to Scott Meadows, President of Wheeler/Brand Management Company, the only hope for Gwinnett is suburban infill redevelopment. The Wheeler/Brand Management company currently controls a 200k SF property management and leasing portfolio around Gwinnett Place Mall, so saying the first has a vested interested in the success of the area is putting it lightly. When asked about Gwinnett’s options for redevelopment, Meadows went directly to residential. While the county has been hesitant to approve additional housing projects, Meadows is armed with a staggering statistic – only 6% of the people who work in the area (almost 50,000 people) actually live in the area. A huge reason for this a simply lack of nearby and available housing.
Meadows also confirmed what we all know – Gwinnett has too much retail. Meadows would like to see some of the unused retail converted into useful and creative space that could attract new and more attention to the area, which has long been overlooked as a retail wasteland. Meadows is inspired by projects like Avalon and Buckhead Atlanta that provide the “live, work, play” environment that so many people are seeking today and hopes to provide this kind of atmosphere in several projects across the county.