Costco eyes Gwinnett site for new store - Atlanta Business Chronicle (2024)

In the future, Gwinnett shoppers may be able to buy tennis balls in bulk at the former site of a now-demolished venue used for the 1996 Summer Olympics.

Costco Wholesale Corp. (Nasdaq: COST) is eyeing the former Stone Mountain Tennis Center near U.S. 78 as a location for a new store, according to a real estate source familiar with the potential deal. If that happens, the rest of the 26-acre site at Bermuda Road and West Park Place Boulevard could be reserved for other uses, such as apartments or standalone restaurants, according to the source.

Gwinnett County demolished the tennis center in 2018. The venue, once comprised of 15 courts with 7,500 seats, had fallen into disuse and neglect. Costly structural issues stood in the way of rehabilitating it. Local officials are negotiating with Fuqua Development — an Atlanta-based firm led by Jeff Fuqua — to reimagine the vacant lot.

Gwinnett's Southern Gateway

Gwinnett acquired the property through a land swap with Stone Mountain Memorial Association Board of Directors in 2016. After completing the demolition of the complex, local officials reviewed proposals from several developers interested in creating a mixed-use project to serve as a "southern gateway" into Gwinnett.

Gwinnett tapped Fuqua to spearhead redevelopment efforts in late 2020. The longtime Atlanta developer is known for creating suburban-style retail centers with ample parking. More recently, he has focused his attention on mixed-use projects, such as The Battery in Cobb County and Exchange @ Gwinnett near Buford.

In 2020, Fuqua shared preliminary ideas to fill the site with a grocery store, luxury apartments and 30,000 square feet of retail into the plan. He compared his vision to Peachtree Corners' Town Center, the de facto downtown area of the city with shops, restaurants and townhomes centered around a large greenspace.

Fuqua declined to provide comment on the latest status of the project. Gwinnett officials are unable to share details related to pending real estate and land deals, according to a county spokesperson.

Some community members aren't pleased with the potential for Costco to claim a portion of the site. A warehouse and surface parking lot wouldn't be the highest and best use of the county-owned property, said Vipul Patel, president of Exceptional Hospitality, which owns several hotels in the area.

Patel, who lives in nearby Lilburn, has watched businesses close to the site shut down. A high-end, walkable project similar to Avalon in Alpharetta could be as a catalyst for revitalizing the area, he said. He hopes to see recreational space, local restaurants and shops, housing and offices incorporated into the plan.

The surrounding area consists of low-rise commercial and industrial buildings, including a 650,000-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center with thousands of workers. The redevelopment site offers views of Stone Mountain Park. It's close to Mountain Park, a small residential community mostly comprised of single-family homes.

Costco's presence in Atlanta

Costco has rapidly expanded in Georgia. The membership-only brand — known for selling large quantities of items — operates 16 stores across the state. The company already has two stores in Gwinnett County, one nearGwinnett Place Mall and the other near Mall of Georgia. It recently opened a new warehouse in Oconee County near Athens.

Costco declined to provide comment about the potential for a new Gwinnett store. It's against the company's policy to comment on future warehouses or construction until it's ready to share details about a new location, according to an emailed statement from a spokesperson.

While online shopping and other consumer habits push brick-and-mortar retailers to explore new ways for attracting shoppers, grocery stores tend to perform relatively well. As one developer told Atlanta Business Chronicle in 2022: "People need to eat... You can't eat on the Internet."

Publix and Lidl are a few of the other brands working on adding new stores to Atlanta and similar Southeastern markets. Industry experts say grocers are attracted to the region for its population and job growth, supply of land and far-reaching suburbs and exurbs.

Costco is the third-largest global retailer, right behind Walmart and Amazon. In the second quarter of fiscal year 2023, the Washington-based company reported total revenues of $55.3 billion. Net sales and membership fees grew year-over-year by 6.5% and 6.2%, respectively.

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Costco eyes Gwinnett site for new store - Atlanta Business Chronicle (2024)


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