North American Properties expected to unveil Infinite Energy Center development plan soon

www.gwinnettdailypost.com

By: Curt Yeomans

Published: October 14, 2017


A proposed layout for the development of the land surrounding the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth is expected to be released early next week, according to an official with the development firm working on the project .

North American Properties’ Vice-President of Marketing, Liz Gillespie, spoke briefly about the project Friday during a presentation experience making at the Metro Atlanta Redevelopment Summit at Studio Movie Grill in Duluth. After the presentation, she told the Daily Post a site plan for the development is expected to come out soon.

“We’re actually making good progress,” Gillespie said. “It’s an evolution and we’ve spent time really looking at the community, what’s going to work in the community and what potentially are some product types that are needed in the community, but we’re all about the mix of uses and how the mix of uses creates energy.”

The development of the land around the center will part of a set of changes expected to happen in coming years at the site. An expansion of the convention center, approved by Gwinnett voters in last year’s SPLOST referendum, and construction of a full-service Marriott hotel that will serve as a bridge between the forum and arena are also coming up.

Gwinnett County leaders want to see space that is currently a sea of parking space at the center turned into a mixed-use project that encourages visitors to “come early and stay late.”

North American Properties was brought in last year to make that happen through a public-private partnership. Some of the firm’s other work includes redevelopment at Atlantic Station and the development of Avalon in Alpharetta. It is also working on the Colony Square redevelopment in midtown Atlanta.

When the firm was hired last year, Gwinnett Convention and Visitor’s Bureau CEO Preston Williams said it was picked “based on NAP’s proven ability to also implement strong retail and dining line-ups, create buzz-worthy events and amenities, and to deliver the experiential, hospitable experience that we want to bring to our residents and visitors.”

The Infinite Energy Center development is a little different though because it will be popping up around an existing, and busy, event venue.

“What’s so amazing about that is that there are already over 1 million people who visit the Infinite Energy Center each year,” Gillespie said. “There are over 1,600 events happening on site and that is amazing, but right now there’s not really a ‘before’ and ‘after.’

“There’s only a ‘during,’ so we want to create the ‘before’ and ‘after.’ “

Conceptual plans drawn up by the county’s convention and visitor’s bureau, Explore Gwinnett, envisioned an entertainment district right outside the center’s doors.

Gillespie didn’t give any details about the firm’s plans for how the site will be laid out, but she said it is looking at bringing in a mix of residential, office, retail and hotel spaces.

While the center’s name will remain the same despite the redevelopment planned to happen around it, the name for that new community is expected to be released along with the site plan.

“The Infinite Energy Center will be like an anchor within the community, but the community will have its own name,” Gillespie said.

Partnership Gwinnett Chief Economic Development Officer Nick Masino asked Gillespie to keep Gwinnett’s diversity in mind as the development process moves along, referring to the county as “the United Nations.”

“You have a challenge, you’re going to have to create it for everybody,” Masino said.

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