For a few years now, local business leaders have urged the owners of Gwinnett Place Mall to sell off, move out and give someone else the chance to redevelop the long-struggling shopping center.
It appears they’ll soon get their wish.
Moonbeam Capital Partners is poised to sell their portion of Gwinnett Place, which is now so empty that it recently attracted Netflix’s “Stranger Things” to shoot there — and, in a more macabre incident, allowed the decomposing body of a murder victim to go unnoticed for weeks.
As real estate news outlet Bisnow first reported Tuesday, Moonbeam has tapped Colliers International Atlanta to help with the sale of the once-proud shopping center near I-85 and Pleasant Hill Road.
Tony D’Ambrosio, senior vice president at Colliers Atlanta, said the mall could be officially on the market by late this year or early next. He said he expects the listing to “generate a lot of eyeballs and a lot of interest.”
“I think the buyer will understand that there's great public support for good things happening at this site,” D’Ambrosio said.
Representatives from Moonbeam did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Gwinnett Place Mall opened in the mid-1980s and did booming business for decades. But faced with the emergence of other nearby shopping centers like the Mall of Georgia and the general trend of declining shopping mall popularity, it eventually fell into despair.
Las Vegas-based Moonbeam bought an already-flailing Gwinnett Place in late 2013 and eventually announced plans for a grand makeover that included demolishing one department store to build apartments and converting two other wings into office space.
None of that ever came to fruition and, by 2017, business leaders like current Gwinnett Chamber President Nick Masino and Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District director Joe Allen were openly expressing their frustrations with Moonbeam.
Those frustrations were exacerbated by Moonbeam’s handling of other properties across the country — like in upstate New York, where the company purportedly owed $10 million in back taxes on a largely vacant mall.
Several ideas for redeveloping Gwinnett Place have come and gone. Most recently, an investor named Jay Pandya said he planned to build a cricket stadium on the site; that proposal went nowhere.
While Moonbeam owns the largest pieces of Gwinnett Place, the mall’s three remaining anchor tenants — Macy’s, Beauty Master and MegaMart — all own their own buildings and surrounding chunks of parking lot. Those properties will not be part of the Moonbeam sale.
Nor will the mall's former Sears building, which North Carolina-based apartment developer Northwood Ravin purchased for $11 million in June 2018. That firm appears likely to remain involved with the mall’s redevelopment.
On Tuesday, Allen told the AJC that Gwinnett Place’s potential sale will make it “ground zero for redevelopment opportunities in Gwinnett County.”
“While Gwinnett Place has had historic tremendous impact on the county, our best chapter is still being written,” Allen said. “This sale gives us a chance to help shape that future. Imagine the economic impact possibilities once redevelopment in this area has truly occurred.”
Asked for comment on the potential sale of a property that was once the county’s most vital commercial hub, Gwinnett Commissioner Jace Brooks offered just two words: "Thank God."