One of Atlanta’s more controversial developers is again taking his talents to the suburbs, where a Gwinnett County mixed-use project said to rival Alpharetta’s Avalon and Forsyth County’s Halcyon is starting to open after a year and ½ of construction.
In addition to completing projects at places like The Battery, Jeff Fuqua, head of Fuqua Development, has ruffled the feathers of intown urbanists and neighbors from Decatur to Home Park during the city’s ongoing, decade-long development cycle.
Fuqua’s greatest hits, beyond classics like Midtown Place and Edgewood Retail District, include a suburban-style node with a towering self-storage facility next to Atlantic Station; a proposed Walmart in historic Grant Park (later switched to Kroger, aka “Krobar”); a parking-heavy, mixed-use hub at the doorstep of Piedmont Park eventually killed by the BeltLine and Invest Atlanta; and to a less-offensive degree, Madison Yards in Reynoldstown.
Now, Fuqua has turned attention to a 106-acre site—more than six times the size of Madison Yards—in Buford next to Interstate 85, just south of the Mall of Georgia.
A $350-million mixed-use venture, The Exchange at Gwinnett is expected to see a marque tenant open Thursday with Andretti Indoor Karting and Games. That follows the debut two weeks ago of Gwinnett’s first Topgolf, featuring multiple levels of bars and eateries and 72 bays.
Also open is a roster of tenants that hardly surprise for a Fuqua build: Chipotle, Les Mains Nail Bar, Starbucks, Thrive Affordable Vet Care, and what’s billed as the largest Rooms to Go in the Southeast.
Seventy more businesses—among them Sprouts Farmers Market and Central City Tavern, next to a planned food hall—are expected to roll out across The Exchange’s 465,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space over the next 18 months.
Roughly 1,000 apartments, senior housing rentals, and townhomes will comprise the residential component, with about 3,000 people expected to call The Exchange home. Like Madison Yards, the project was designed by Alpharetta-based Pieper O'Brien Herr Architects.
In a recent interview with the AJC, Fuqua described the Gwinnett venture as an “urban hamlet”—that is, a suburban development with stronger sense of place. Nonetheless, The Exchange is predicted to generate 36,000 vehicle trips in and out per day—a number roughly on par with the sprawling mall up the road.
As for the newest attraction, Andretti Indoor Karting & Games will be the second in Georgia and sixth nationwide, featuring high-speed multilevel racing, duckpin bowling, a restaurant, and large arcade.
From the look of renderings, parking shouldn’t be a problem.
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