When Emory Morsberger took the helm as Executive Director of Gateway85 CID in April 2019, he did so with a lifetime of experience already under his belt, working on and completing large visionary community projects and real estate developments like the rebirth of the City of Lawrenceville, involvement launching Ponce City Market and founding two other CIDs in Gwinnett County and beyond.
Now, three years later, he and Gateway85 have taken the state’s largest community improvement district to new heights – continuing and improving upon efforts made by the CID, which encompasses 14 square miles.
Gateway85’s current pillars include crime reduction, improving curb appeal, updating roads and launching new transportation initiatives.
With regard to crime reduction, Morsberger says locals have seen a dramatically reduced crime rate – as much as 80% less – along Jimmy Carter and the main corridors that encompass the CID through a significant investment in license plate readers and patrols.
The second goal, curb appeal, involves picking up trash, removing graffiti and landscaping major interchanges such as Jimmy Carter, Indian Trail and Beaver Ruin.
With regard to roads and transportation, Morsberger says Gateway85 has completed dozens of major road and sidewalk projects and is engaged in 148 additional projects – working with state, local and sometimes federal officials in partnership to complete them.
In addition to these goals, Gateway85 has launched a redevelopment initiative for a large facility in the middle of Gateway85’s target area: the Optical Fiber Solutions (or OFS) property at Jimmy Carter Blvd. and I-85.
Gwinnett County purchased 103 of the site’s 200 acres in 2018. It has since been used by film production crews for blockbuster movies as well as still being home to fiber optic cable production.
Gateway85 has big plans for the site, including installation of a computer gaming incubator, a film production accelerator, and outreach and training to assist nearby economically disadvantaged families.
Regarding the first of these three objectives Morsberger says: “There’s no base for computer gaming in Georgia, and our goal is to create that.”
Secondly, by working with film production companies to create an incubator or accelerator program, Gateway85 can engage local students from area high schools as well as Georgia Gwinnett College to get involved with film – be it as creators, production support, marketing professionals or costume designers. “There are no limits,” he added.
Finally, Gateway85 plans to coordinate services and outreach to nearby economically disadvantaged residents.
To show Gateway85’s commitment, the CID recently relocated its headquarters to a Gwinnett Redevelopment Authority-owned portion of the OFS facility.
“We literally moved our headquarters … into a newly renovated space in the OFS building on 85,” Morsberger says. “My office is in the center of this target area. We put our money where our mouth is. And we did that with the support of Gwinnett County.”
He adds that Gateway85 “already has a good relationship with Gwinnett – and we have had a large number of partnerships with Gwinnett on many projects and initiatives.”
The ultimate goal is to “dramatically increase the intensity of what is already happening on that OFS site. There’s a lot of empty space there – open space not built on – and space in office facilities, so we’re working to get the county to support us moving forward with this 3-prong project.”
Adds Morsberger: “Our goal is to make things happen – not just talk about making things happen. And our goal is to do that this year. This is an incredible opportunity, and the time is now to move this forward.”