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Gambling Complex Developer Promises to Donate Land for Transit Use

Nine acres will go to the I-85 transit expansion in unincorporated Norcross.

Developer Dan O'Leary of the pledged to donate nine acres of land to the I-85 transit expansion in unincorporated Norcross.

The nine acres would be part of the 122 acres on the OFS property dedicated to the complex, said O'Leary in an interview Friday. The fiber optics manufacturer is located near Jimmy Carter Boulevard and the I-85 highway.

The donation would play a considerable part in the , which is currently in the works by the Gwinnett Village CID and is funded by a $1.2 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration. The study evaluates the alternative options for possible mass transit from the Doraville MARTA station to the Gwinnett Center on Sugarloaf Parkway.

“This is a huge investment for the I-85 corridor and helps us to attract high quality economic development like the proposed mixed-use entertainment complex,” Chuck Warbington, executive director of the community improvement district, said in a press release. “This is the first step for a committment of private funding – one that could be matched with public dollars – to help provide Gwinnett with options for regional connectivity.”

He added in an interview with Patch that the study should be completed by the end of the year.

The transit study anaylsis will dictate what exactly will be built on the half-mile property, whether it's a light rail, a bus station or another lane of traffic, said Warbington.

"We want to be a vital, integral part of the community," said O'Leary. "We want to be a great corporate citizen, and this site has a lot of infrastructure on it. In any way we can be helpful to the county, we want to be."

O'Leary also said that he'd be willing to work with the county on other issues, too, such as the possibility of expanding the Gwinnett County Police Department south precinct, which is adjacent to OFS.

The $1 billion destination gaming facility would repurpose the OFS's entrance and east portion for different attractions: a luxury hotel, a spa, a venue, an upscale swimming pool, a 5,400-car parking garage, retail and dining, in addition to the gaming floor for video lottery terminals.

O'Leary also talked about building tennis courts and a helipad on the roof.

Much of the space that the developer plans to buy from OFS isn't currently occupied, which was evident in a tour of the OFS building Friday. This space includes an empty cafeteria, an auditorium, and a 9,000-square foot building that was constructed in 2000 but never used.

The OFS business would be left with around 40 acres of land in the far west. A spokesman for OFS said the fiber-optics business would still be able to function its day-to-day operations if the gambling complex moves in.

Before construction takes place, though, the gambling complex still has to be officially approved by the state and county.

O'Leary will go in front of the Georgia Lottery board Thursday, April 19, to present his proposal. If the board approves the project, the Gwinnett County Commission would then have to approve the land to be rezoned, and then construction can begin.

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