A 150,000 square foot Walmart is coming in at the Green’s Corner shopping center on Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Rockbridge Road in the Norcross area. The development will lead to the closing of two nightclubs, which officials say have been problematic.
“From a redevelopment standpoint, this is the biggest thing I’ve seen in a long time,” said Chuck Warbington, Executive Director of the Gwinnett Village CID, which helped Walmart locate the property, where a K-mart was built in 1983. The K-mart has since closed, and the shopping center has been relatively desolate for years.
Warbington said that Walmart first looked into a new store in the area three or four years back, but the economy put their search on hold. The hunt for a suitable property picked back up about eight to 12 months ago, with the CID serving as a “funnel” for appropriate properties.
The development will mean tearing down a large portion of the strip mall. Currently, much of the retail space is empty but the movie theatre remains functional.
Two nightclubs in the shopping center have been a source of consternation with the police and local residents, said Dist. 2 County Commissioner Lynette Howard. “It has become quite a problem at night,” she said, mentioning that police are often called out to break up fights and such.
“It will be a huge investment, a huge influx of money,” said Howard. “I’m hoping it will start the ball rolling in the whole area.”
Walmart will also fix up the area behind the strip mall, which has drainage issues. “It looks awful in the back because the drainage has failed in three spots,” said Howard. “Walmart will clean all of this up, which will really help.”
Warbington said that the new store will not be a “Super Walmart” but it will be enhanced to fit the space, including a garden center, retail space and a grocery store. The store will not include an automotive center.
Warbington said that the only sticking point for neighbors was the possibility of a loud automotive center going in near their homes. Once they learned that this possibility was out, they seem to be excited about bringing new life to the space.
Walmart hopes to begin construction on the store in the first quarter of next year, with a projected opening in the first quarter of 2013.