Demolition on the Olympic Tennis Center is expected to begin by the end of the month, and its removal could spur development along the entire U.S. Highway 78 corridor to Snellville. Jim Brooks, executive director of the Evermore Community Improvement District in the area said that parcel and nearby land could determine the direction for the entire area. “We think that is the biggest catalyst site,” Brooks said.

The center sits at the county line where 78 crosses from DeKalb into Gwinnett. That gives it easy, multi-lane, restricted-access transportation to the interstate system. It belongs to Gwinnett County, has 27 acres, but there are more than 500 acres of land waiting for development or redevelopment nearby.

Once the center is gone and any environmental remediation complete, the county will accept redevelopment proposals. A committee then will review the proposals and select a developer. That will be a big day for the CID, but Brooks said just getting the site back to raw land is a good start. The site would be eligible for livable community and tax allocation incentives, and Brooks expects that to increase interest in the site.

Demolition is to begin by the end of the month under a contract between Gwinnett County and TOA LLC. The county acquired the center last year in a land swap with Stone Mountain Park. The county paid about $1.2 million for the land it gave up in the swap, and it expects to spend more than $1 million to demolish the tennis center.

Facilities built for the 1996 Olympic Games have delivered very mixed results, but few have been as much of a disappointment as the tennis facility. After the Olympics, there were a few attempts to host professional tennis, and some high school tennis was played there. Then it hosted a couple of concerts. Within a decade of the games, it was pretty much vacant.

Every year or so, one group or another would propose to redevelop it as a sports or concert venue, but none of those groups was willing or able to put up the money. So, the facility deteriorated by neglect, vandalism and theft.

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