Developer has new plan for vacant factory site
By Kerry Kavanaugh
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. —
There is a new proposal for a Gwinnett County site once slated for a massive gambling complex.
A local developer wants to create a so-called live-work-learn center at the sprawling location along Interstate 85 near Jimmy Carter Boulevard.
Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh met with the developer who said the development could be as big as Atlanta’s Atlantic Station.
“We want this to be the epic center of entrepreneur and business education,” developer Cliff Oxford said.
The company OFS, a producer of fiber-optic cable, vacated a portion of the property years ago.
Since then big plans for the site, including a proposed casino, have come and gone.
“We think it’s time Atlanta have an ecosystem that involves academics, entrepreneurs and education to produce a great university for Atlanta,” Oxford said.
Oxford said his proposal will transform the empty plant into a development roughly the size of Atlantic Station. It will be home to businesses, a university and student housing.
Oxford likens his vision to what Stanford is to Silicon Valley.
Oxford said he sees something that feeds off of each other: Students getting real-life hands-on training and businesses that have a pool of qualified applicants to choose from.
“I said how can we create the next Facebooks, the next Googles and without an ecosystem as Silicon Valley has and Stanford has it’s hard to produce the big winners,” Oxford said.
He claims hundreds of companies will be in place to support them.
“Were we disappointed that we had one project fall through, yes. But we knew there would be another one right behind it,” said Chuck Warbington with the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District.
Warbington said the project could transform the entire Jimmy Carter Boulevard, infusing the area with young professionals and students.
“And hopefully this gets them a job when they leave,” Oxford said.
So far Oxford and his partners aren’t asking for any tax payer money to get the project started.
The community improvement district said transforming the OFS site would only require a county zoning vote.