Aug 5, 2022 - News

"Stranger Things" to bigger things

A rendering of a large mixed-use development featuring several mid-rise buildings centered on a park

Rendering: Courtesy of Gwinett Place Community Improvement District

Gwinnett Place Mall, a decades-old shopping center near Duluth that most recently served as a set for "Stranger Things" and other shows, could enjoy a second act as a diverse, mixed-use development.

What's happening: This week, a team of area leaders, government officials, and planners proposed replacing the dying mall with a 90-acre megadevelopment named Global Villages.

By the numbers: Under the plan, Global Villages would comprise seven residential villages centered on a 4.5-acre park.

  • The project could have 2,700 housing units, 25,000 square feet of office space and up to 100,000 square feet of retail.
  • Plus: a 40,000 square foot cultural center, international library and eight additional acres of greenspace mixed among the villages.

Macy's, Mega Mart and Beauty Master own their property and plan to remain, the AJC reports.

Yes, but: Exactly how many affordable housing units are part of the plan has yet to be decided.

Catch up quick: Opened in 1984, the mall was a popular draw in the fast-growing county but faded in the early 2000s as newer malls upped the competition for shoppers and businesses.

  • The county bought most of the property in April 2021 for $23 million.

What they’re saying: The development aims to support and celebrate international cultures and blend in with the existing communities — not serve as a stand-alone attraction, says Joe Allen, the executive director of the Gwinnett Place Commercial Improvement District.

Of note: "Stranger Things" production crews 1980s-fied the shopping complex into Starcourt Mall for the show’s third season. Other shoots have included "Ozark," "Greenleaf" and "I, Tonya."

Zoom out: Developers see opportunities in aging enclosed shopping malls, most of which enjoy prime locations and are well-served with utilities and other infrastructure.

Earlier this year, developer Edens announced plans to build 300,000 square feet of retail, 200,000 square feet of office space, a hotel and nearly 2,000 apartments and townhomes at North DeKalb Mall.


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