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Gwinnett OKs $67.7 million in bonds for huge development project near Dacula

By Arielle Kass, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #atlanta-ga

Gwinnett County commissioners on Tuesday agreed to sell bonds to finance a massive redevelopment project planned for the Dacula area.

Land that will be purchased as part of the Rowen project will be funded with $67.7 million in bonds. The money will also cover the startup costs of the development, which commissioners are touting as a knowledge community.

The county will pay back $4.1 million a year for 20 years in debt service, costing taxpayers $82 million over the life of the bonds. Commissioners have said the costs will be recouped as Rowen grows and the nonprofit organization formed to operate the project sells land for development.

The nonprofit’s operating costs will initially be funded by the bonds and by the county’s development authority.

Rowen, which was announced by county commissioners last month, will be a sprawling research center on 2,000 acres near Dacula at the Barrow County line.

The project is meant to focus on research and innovation in agriculture, medicine and the environment. Commissioners have said it could be transformative for the region.

The largest development in Gwinnett’s history, it will also include public spaces, offices and residences.

If it reaches its full potential, officials say the project will cost $1.8 billion to build by 2035, and as much as $3.2 billion by 2050. It is expected to create more than 18,000 jobs over the next 15 years and generate more than $2.3 billion in annual economic activity, according to an impact study commissioned by the county.

By 2050, the annual economic impact is expected to be $6.6 billion, the study said.

“Congratulations to everyone involved for getting us to this point,” Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash said after the bonds were approved.