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The Vote to Expand MARTA and What It Means

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MARTA REFERENDUM

On March 19, Gwinnett County voters will be asked to vote “yes” or “no” on this question: “Gwinnett County has executed a contract for the provision of transit services, dated as of August 2, 2018. Shall this contract be approved?”

Go Gwinnett, a registered ballot committee, wants to make sure voters understand just what a “yes” or “no” vote means to Gwinnett County and its future.

What “yes” or “no” means for Gwinnett

A “yes” vote for the Gwinnett MARTA expansion will connect the county to the rest of the metro Atlanta region, giving residents more options to get to their destinations, whether for work or play and will offer new customers the opportunity to frequent Gwinnett’s shopping and entertainment venues.

The expansion will be funded by a new one-cent sales tax that will be used solely to benefit residents of the county. “Gwinnett’s money stays in Gwinnett,” said Brian Robinson, spokesperson for the Go Gwinnett campaign. “All tax dollars collected will return to the county for local projects.”

A “no” vote will prevent the expansion, and that won’t decrease traffic. It will, however, limit the opportunities of how residents and visitors can move through Gwinnett.

More transit options

There’s no question that the current road traffic is already strained, and it’s only going to get more congested as Gwinnett grows. The partnership with MARTA will bring more options for commuters.

“More transit options will help reduce traffic congestion on the roads and provide faster commutes for riders as well as those on the roads,” Robinson said. “Gwinnett would benefit early on from double local bus and express routes, more park-and-ride lots, flex “on demand” services, “direct connect” routes and more paratransit services.” Exciting new bus rapid transit options will follow.

Additionally, the MARTA contract would extend the heavy rail line from the existing Doraville station to a new multi-modal transit hub hear I-85 and Jimmy Carter Blvd.

Something for everyone

Not only will approval of the MARTA contract make lives easier for residents and ensure smarter growth, but it also will offer more independence and inclusion for seniors and disabled residents — and bring in more Millennials.

“Fast and attractive transit options will help our county attract and keep the Millennial and Generation Z workforce critical to our economy, our schools and our neighborhoods over the next 40 years,” Robinson said.

New transit hubs will drive smart growth around those areas and boost Gwinnett’s tax base by spurring redevelopment of aging retail centers. The expanded transit options will also attract new high-paying jobs. Many of metro Atlanta’s biggest economic development announcements have come from companies that demanded close access to transit for their employees.

Money and decision-making stay here

Every penny from the one-cent sale tax goes right back into Gwinnett County. “The 1 percent sales tax approach means that 25 to 30 percent of the dollars generated will come from people who live outside the county,” Robinson explained. That means that Gwinnett will get 100 percent of the benefit with only 75 percent of the cost.

The expansion is based on Gwinnett’s plan for transit expansion and its contract with MARTA. That contract has special provisions that protect the county.

“Gwinnett maintains local decision making on transit projects and service standards, and Gwinnett will attain three seats on the MARTA board, increasing our voice and oversight in regional decisions,” Robinson said.

MARTA Referendum

Why MARTA?

Some residents may question why Gwinnett should partner with MARTA, rather than Gwinnett County Transit, to expand local services. Robinson pointed out that what MARTA offers is a higher capacity to build out new infrastructure, and MARTA has the most knowledge and expertise to develop bus rapid transit, light rail and heavy rail in the State of Georgia.

Additionally, working with MARTA is essential so that the system that is developed in Gwinnett can connect to existing transit infrastructure as efficiently as possible.

Partnering with MARTA to expand access to transit and offer more transit options is an important part of making Gwinnett County a better place to live, work and raise a family. ■

Get Out and Vote!

► Election Day is Tuesday, March 19.
► Early voting begins Monday, Feb. 25 at the Gwinnett Justice Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville 30046. Starting Monday, March 4, early voting is available Monday through Sunday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m., at every early vote location until Friday, March 15.
► Visit gogwinnett.org for updates and more information.

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VyStar Credit Union Continues Growth in Georgia with the Opening of a Peachtree Corners Branch

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A grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for May 29, 2024

VyStar Credit Union has to announced that its Peachtree Corners location is now open at 5125 Peachtree Parkway in Peachtree Corners. This is VyStar’s fifth full-service branch in Metro Atlanta and joins branches in Stockbridge, Suwanee, Smyrna and Marietta.

In support of its purpose to “Do Good,” VyStar partners with non-profit organizations across the communities it serves. VyStar will make a $5,000 donation to the Rainbow Village to celebrate the grand opening of the Peachtree Corners branch at the ribbon cutting event in late May.

“VyStar’s first branch in Gwinnett will provide residents and business owners with better banking options, including free checking, access to early direct deposit, great rates, financial wellness education through VyStar’s Financial Fitness initiative, and unbelievable member-centric service that only a credit union can provide,” said VyStar EVP/Chief Operations Officer Chad Meadows.

The Peachtree Corners branch features VyStar’s digital-forward design, which enhances how employees connect with members. This includes interactive touchscreen kiosks that provide financial tools and allow members to quickly explore the latest products, services and rates. 

Lobby and drive-thru hours for the Peachtree Corners branch are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

VyStar continues to work with local organizations to build up the communities it serves. In Metro Atlanta, that includes supporting the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Junior Achievement of Georgia, Frontline Housing Inc., H.E.R.O. For Children and many others.

“Each time VyStar opens a new branch, it is another opportunity for us to support our purpose to Do Good. With eight full-service branches now in Georgia and our first Contact Center in Metro Atlanta, VyStar is able to provide residents and area businesses with exceptional financial products along with personalized service,” said VyStar SVP/Georgia Market President Janean Armstrong.

VyStar has seven additional locations in Georgia: Marietta, Smyrna, Suwanee, Stockbridge, Brunswick, Savannah and Thomasville, with plans to open branches in Pooler, Kingsland and Peachtree City over the next year.

The credit union is also expanding its services in Florida with a third branch in Tallahassee scheduled to open in May followed by a branch opening in the Lake Nona area in August.

To celebrate the grand opening, the community is invited to a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 29, 2024, at 10:30 a.m. Learn more about the Peachtree Corners branch.

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Kendra Scott Opens New Store At The Forum

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Kendra Scott

Kendra Scott is celebrating the opening of its newest store in Peachtree Corners the weekend of May 10 at The Forum.

Upon opening, the 2,263 square foot store will display Kendra Scott’s current collections. The store will also showcase the brand’s unique Color Bar, offering shoppers an interactive experience to create customized jewelry in minutes and leave with it in hand.

Worn by celebrities including Hailey Bieber, Camila Cabello, Mindy Kaling, Zendaya and Kelly Clarkson, Kendra Scott’s collections are known for their custom-created stone shapes, genuine materials and design details.

This will be Kendra Scott’s first store in Gwinnett County, which joins five other retail locations in Georgia.

The brand will continue to show its support for the community through partnerships with non-profits and local businesses. For the grand opening weekend, Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners will host various non-profits for Kendra Gives Back events, donating a percentage of proceeds directly back to the causes.

Kendra Scott hosts more than 10,000 Kendra Gives Back events in retail stores annually and looks forward to establishing relationships and connecting with the Gwinnett County community.

“We’re excited to continue introducing the community to new brands, bites and events at The Forum as part of our vision to create downtown Peachtree Corners. Kendra Scott will be a welcome addition, providing our guests a top-notch experience to shop its unique offerings in person,” said Charlotte Hinton, The Forum marketing manager.

Doors will open on Friday, May 10, at 10 a.m. with celebrations throughout the weekend, including giveback events, gifts with purchase and giveaways. RSVP for more details here.

Upcoming events:

  • Friday, May 10 from 10-12 p.m. – Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is partnering with The Forum for a VIP event. Supporters who spend $100 will receive a special jewelry gift with purchase.* Guests will also enjoy refreshments from Giulia, The Italian Bakery.
  • Friday, May 10 from 5-7 p.m. – Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is partnering with the Norcross High School Cheer Team and donating 20% of proceeds. Supporters who spend $100 will receive a special gift with purchase* Guests can also receive a custom embroidered bow from Quiet Hours Embroidery with purchase.
  • Saturday, May 11 from 4-6 p.m. – Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is partnering with Spectrum Autism Support Group and donating 20% of proceeds. Supporters who spend $100 will receive a special gift with purchase.* Guests will also enjoy complimentary cotton candy from Wonder Soirée with every purchase.
  • Sunday, May 12 from 12-2 p.m. – Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is celebrating the Community of Motherhood. Supporters who spend $100 will receive a special gift with purchase.* Guests will also receive a complimentary Mother’s Day bouquet of flowers from Nancy’s Flower Truck.

*One per person while supplies last.

Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is located at 5155 Peachtree Parkway, Suite 710 in Peachtree Corners at The Forum. For companywide updates and product details, follow @kendrascott on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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BRACK: Peachtree Corners to lose Peterbrooke Chocolatier

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Scottt Gottuso and Geoffrey Wilson.
Scottt Gottuso and Geoffrey Wilson. Photo provided.

Peachtree Corners will soon lose one of its most iconic, popular and tasty businesses.

Peterbrooke Chocolatier, run by Geoffrey Wilson and Scott Gottuso, has been told by Peachtree Forum landlords, North American Properties and Nuveen Real Estate, that its lease will not be renewed. The last day of business will be July 25.

Meanwhile, Peachtree Forum is getting several new stores. They include Kendra Scott, Sucre, and The NOW Massage. Previously announced were Alloy Personal Training, Cookie Fix, Gallery Anderson Smith, Giulia, Lovesac, Nando’s Peri-Peri and Stretchlab. Wilson adds: “We are not in their big picture.”

Wilson has operated Peterbrooke at the Peachtree Forum for 14 years and Gottuso has been there nine years. They have made the chocolatier profitable and doubled sales. Wilson says: “We turned it around through community involvement and made relationships. We worked with the schools, gave donations, did a lot in the community, and made a difference. We produce most everything we sell in the shop, so it’s labor intensive. We make European-style chocolate treats from scratch from the very best ingredients, package it, make gift baskets, and also sell a lot of gelato.”

Key items include truffles, hand-made caramels, cherry cordials, chocolate-covered cookies and pretzels and strawberries hand-dipped in their own blend of chocolates. (They are all good!) One of Wilson’s and Gottuso’s most iconic products is chocolate popcorn. Once you try it, regular popcorn is tasteless. “We sell a lot of it.” Wilson adds: “Gelato sales have carried us in the summertime, since there are not many chocolate holidays in the summer.”

Peterbrooke now has five employees, and would like to have 10, but it is difficult to hire people with the skills in chocolatiering. A key part of its business is corporate companies, such as Delta Air Lines and Capital Insight. The Peachtree Corners’ Peterbrooke has corporate customers as far away as Cleveland, Ohio.

The operators were surprised when the Forum owners did not renew its five year lease. “The big decisions were made in Charlotte or Cincinnati, not locally,” Wilson feels. “We were no longer in their big picture. They want new and glitzy, shiny, fancy and trendy.”

The operators plan to start their own chocolate company, to be called “Scoffrey,” and initially sell online, plus have pop-up locations during holidays, and possibly have a booth in other merchants’ stores on occasions.

“Whatever we do would look different. We might rent a space somewhere close by so that people can still have the good chocolate experience with us, but we won’t have a regular audience walking by.”

Another element: the price of chocolate futures has spiked this year, with a bad crop production year. Wilson says: “That is key to our business and a huge cost increase. That doesn’t help.”

Wilson adds that the forced closing of the Peterbrooke location “is something like the death of a friend. But you go to the funeral and to the wake, and in six months or a year, It won’t be so bad.”

Have a comment?  Send to: elliott@elliottbrack

Written by Elliott Brack

This material is presented with permission from Elliott Brack’s GwinnettForum, an online site published Tuesdays and Fridays. To become better informed about Gwinnett, subscribe (at no cost) at GwinnettForum

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