Gwinnett tourism officials seeking developer for Infinite Energy Center campus overhaul

By: Curt Yeomans

Published: Monday, March 14, 2016

The Gwinnett County Convention and Visitors Bureau is taking a step toward making its vision for developing a thriving entertainment district on the Infinite Energy Center campus into a reality.

The tourism group, which is also known as Explore Gwinnett, has issued a request for qualification, asking qualified developers who want to help develop the area to send their information to the bureau by 5 p.m. on April 8. The developer chosen by Explore Gwinnett would help it bring its master plan for the center’s campus to life.

“What we’re really aiming to do here is improve the quality of life for all Gwinnett County citizens through this iconic, sustainable state of the art project,” Explore Gwinnett CEO Preston Williams said in a statement. “This development will provide an enjoyable destination for convention and meeting attendees and will create walkability and connectivity between event facilities and commercial areas.

Officials want to use a partnership with a developer in the private sector to develop small theaters, shops and restaurants, as well as other amenities, within feet of the existing center. A large green space where concert attendees can congregate before entering the arena is also in the plans, as are apartments which would likely be built along Sugarloaf Parkway.

These new facilities would be built on the expansive property that is currently the center’s parking lots. New parking garages would be built to reduce the impact of these new buildings.

The goal, officials have previously said, is to get attendees at events held in the convention center and arena to “come early and stay late.”

Explore Gwinnett said it is looking for a developer that has experience in “planning and development of mixed-use districts, sales and leasing of assets within these districts and programming of public gathering spaces within mixed-use districts.”

The plans build off the momentum created by the Marriott hotel that is expected to begin construction at the center this year. The hotel, which is expected to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 stories tall, will connect to the convention center and the arena.

The entertainment district would be across the road that cuts through the property from the Marriott and the convention center.

“This expansion will open up opportunities to bring new business to the area, while simultaneously stimulating job growth,” Williams said.

The development project has been talked about for nearly a year since Explore Gwinnett officials presented the information to county commissioners during a meeting last May.

The master plan also calls for expanding the convention center around the back of the Marriott, and eventually having a developer build apartments in the parking area along Sugarloaf Parkway, in front of the arena. The overarching plan is to redevelop the entire area around the intersection of Sugarloaf Parkway and Satellite Boulevard.

“It’s the character of these roads as they traverse the development area that will set the tone for what will become the new heart of Gwinnett County,” Williams said.