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New entertainment hub could bring thousands of jobs to Forsyth County

The funding will not come from taxpayer's pockets.

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — A new entertainment hub could soon take shape in metro Atlanta expecting to bring thousands of jobs to the community.

Forsyth County is hoping to one day soon be home to a brand new development called "The Gathering," a billion-dollar project that won't be coming out of taxpayers' pockets.

Tone Frisina is a partner at SCI Architects and is working on a potential arena that would be built inside the entertainment hub, one that has been the forefront of speculation about a potential NHL franchise making its way back to Georgia. However, it's important to note there hasn't been any confirmation that a NHL team will call metro Atlanta home again.

Frisina said what was going to be mall now has the chance to have food, stores, a hotel, a community center, arena, and residential areas. It's also expected to host sporting events, concerts, graduations, and even possible Broadway shows.

"It's a place where you can bring your grandkids, a place where you can bring your parents, and it's a place where you can take a date," Frisina said.

Frisina said it will be over one million square feet of possibilities.

"The massive project and development that we have planned to bring in thousands of jobs in the interim future and construction and in development," Frisina said. "And then, in the long-term, job market of sustaining and creating new, job opportunities when it comes to the arena, hospitality, and in food services and management.

Frisina said the project will also keep the environment in mind.

"Carbon neutrality is something that is talked about in this building," Frisina said. "And understanding how we can minimize our carbon footprint as well as understanding our water usage and impacts on solar gains; when it comes to the sustainable, community aspect, we very much want to create a walking city or walking neighborhood."

County Commissioner Laura Semanson said it's estimated to be an over one billion dollar project that won't consist of taxpayer money.

"This is a privately funded project," Semanson said. "The developer is a local man who lives here by name of Vernon Krass, a very successful businessman. He's partnered up with some great world-class, development partners."

Semanson said some of the same people that worked on The Battery are involved.

"I'm actually pretty excited for it and what the opportunity is going to bring to our community in terms of amenities and the ability to come and see world-class entertainment here in Forsyth County, as well as all of the economic impacts and job opportunities that it's gonna bring," Semanson said.

Some concerns the surrounding community brought up are with traffic and parking. Semanson said they're already preparing for that.

"There's a new interchange coming in off of 400 that will actually have a lane directly into the project," Semanson said. "The widenings of the McGinnis Ferry."

Plus, Frisina said there will be parking decks on site. Most of the community is showing support. Chris Naffky works across the street from the project and lives 10 minutes away.

"First thing that crossed my mind was, 'Oh no, more development in Forsyth County,' but then, when I started reading about it and seeing what has been done in preparation, I actually have warmed to the idea of it," Naffky said.

Naffky said unlike other developments, it seems the preparation for "The Gathering" is much more concrete.

"I love the idea of not having to drive to Gwinnett or having to drive all the way down into the city every time I want to have entertainment," Naffky said.

The project will still need to be presented to the board of commissioners at a session Tuesday. We're told meetings will be held in May to gather public feedback.


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