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Gwinnett Daily Post Podcast

Northside tower is on track, but will be shorter than planned

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Show Notes

The new tower at Northside Hospital Gwinnett is still on track for completion in 2025, but after consultations with the Federal Aviation Administration the structure will be two stories shorter than originally planned, hospital officials said.

In late December, Northside officials announced that they had received approval to add seven stories onto the project at its Lawrenceville campus for a total of 17, which would have made the tower the tallest building in Gwinnett County.

But after consultations between Northside and the FAA, a decision was made to lower the tower by two stories — 27 feet — to ensure flight safety since the Gwinnett County Airport at Briscoe Field is nearby.

Despite the reduction in floors, Northside’s plan is still to add more than 300 beds to the Lawrenceville campus, bringing the total to 696 when the project is complete. That will make Lawrenceville the largest facility in the Northside system, surpassing the Atlanta campus, which has 622 beds. A third of the beds in the tower will be used for critical care, which will replace the original intensive care unit that was built at Northside Gwinnett in the 1980’s. The intensive care rooms will be larger than what the current ones with upgrades to meet patient needs.

The Gwinnett County Board of Education's leadership will remain unchanged this year after a majority for the board members chose to keep Steve Knudsen as their vice-chairman for this year.

Knudsen, who represents District 2 on the school board, served as the board's vice-chairman last year. The board voted last month to keep Board Member Tarece Johnson as its chairwoman, a role she filled last year as well.

The board postponed making a decision on a vice-chairman last month because Knudsen was not present for the January board meeting.

Knudsen, Johnson and Board Member Mary Kay Murphy voted to keep him as vice-chairman. Board Members Karen Watkins and Adrienne Simmons voted for Simmons to be the vice-chair.

Lionheart Theatre in Norcross hosted a staged reading of Diane Dexter’s play, “Deli,” in 2022. The experience affected the playwright in several ways. She said hearing her words aloud was unnerving at first. Yet now that the play is scheduled for production at Lionheart from March 3-19, Dexter anticipates seeing what this amazing cast brings to her characters.

The journey of creation to presentation is an experience few get to travel, and the message “Deli” conveys is also a personal one.

Dexter grew up in a small Pennsylvania town where her family owned a drug store. She experienced firsthand how much hard work it takes to sustain a family business, and what a devastating effect the chain stores had when they opened their doors offering cheaper prices.

Lionheart’s founder and producing director Tanya Gilmer appreciated the craft and message of Dexter’s work.

The play itself takes place in 1990 and chain restaurants are cutting into the Davison family deli’s income. The customer base is shifting, and the younger generation of customers are exploring other eateries. What happens to a neighborhood institution when the neighborhood changes?

A few of the cast members from the 2022 staged reading auditioned for this March production of “Deli” and were cast. Dexter’s husband, Jim Dexter, is also in this cast.

Performances are scheduled March 3-19 on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. There are also Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults and $16 for seniors, students and members of the military.

Proposed legislation would allow Georgians to create state-funded Education Savings Accounts.

Under Senate Bill 233, taxpayers would fund $6,000 per student per school year. Students could use that money to defray "qualified" education costs, including private school tuition. During last year’s session, the state Senate scuttled a similar measure, Senate Bill 601, the Georgia Educational Freedom Act. It would have similarly created state-funded Promise Scholarships of up to $6,000 a year, which Georgia families could have used for education expenses, such as private school tuition, tutoring and homeschool curriculum. A separate measure, House Bill 54, would increase the state’s tax credit scholarship cap from $120 million annually to $200 million per year starting in 2024. The state’s tax credit scholarship program, enacted in 2008, allows individuals and corporations to use part of their state tax obligation for private school scholarships.

It is not just the private sector and Gwinnett’s cities that are undertaking new big projects in the county.

The county’s government leaders are involved in some significant economic development projects that will grab headlines for years to come. The most high profile of those is the redevelopment of Gwinnett Place Mall, but the county’s economic development team also has gateway development projects at the OFS property in unincorporated Norcross and at the former Olympic Tennis Center property on U.S. Highway 78 near Snellville. The Gwinnett Place Mall redevelopment is a project that business and elected government leaders often point to as one of the biggest projects looming on the horizon in Gwinnett.

The mall was a major shopping destination when it opened in 1984, but it had gone into a sharp decline in recent years. County leaders closed on a purchase of most of the mall property — sans the Macy’s, Beauty Master, Mega Mart and former Sear’s anchors — in 2021.

Renderings of what the property could become include a central green space; a cultural community center; retail spaces; dining options; office space; multi—family uses; job and small business support; and other community services.

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