Former NFL player Herschel Walker announced Thursday that he has partnered with developer Dan O'Leary to open a restaurant and sports bar in the proposed gambling complex in unincorporated Norcross.
Walker told Norcross Patch that has been in talks with O'Leary for a few years now about the restaurant. It's the first business to sign on with the project, according to a press release.
“As a Georgia resident, father and businessman, I want to combine my entrepreneurial focus with my desire to sustain the HOPE scholarship and help Georgia students go to college,” said Walker, who's a University of Georgia Heisman Trophy winner, in the release. “I am excited to be part of such a worthwhile project while sharing my love of Georgia, football and food.”
The $1 billion complex, which has OFS near I-85 and Jimmy Carter Boulevard as its proposed site, would include 7,500 video lottery terminals, a hotel, a 5,000-seat performance venue, a spa and dining, according to the release.
Walker's establishment plans to feature Southern food such as peach-infused dishes and chicken pot pie, in addition to memorabilia from his football career.
“Herschel Walker is not only an excellent athlete, but he represents the true Georgia spirit. He grew up in rural Georgia as one of seven kids in a blue collar family, worked hard in high school, and then went on to excel in college and professionally,” O’Leary said in the release. “Everything Herschel does is a success and we are excited to have him as part of our team.”
The complex is estimated to generate $350 million annually for the HOPE scholarship and create 2,500 permanent jobs.
John McHenry of the Gwinnett Village CID addressed concerns with Progressive Development Committee members last month about the proposed complex.
McHenry said the developers for the proposed facility is comparing it to Dover Downs, a high-end VLT gambling complex in Delaware. Dover Downs will also be running the Norcross-area VLT venue, according to a press release.
"[The proposed gambling complex is] high-end, it's clean, it's safe, and that's what we're going for," said McHenry, referring to the type of facility the CID wants to bring to the Norcross area.
"It's something the CID and [CID Executive Director] Chuck Warbington have been working on since last April," he added. "It's just the process of going through due diligence and making sure it's something that makes sense for that site."
The VLTs are permitted under state law, but the facility still needs the approval and backing from the Georgia Lottery Board and Gwinnett County Commission.