Lawrenceville – At its Tuesday meeting, the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution in support of the purchase of approximately 104 acres at the OFS Fiber Optics site along I-85 by the Urban Redevelopment Agency of Gwinnett County (URA). The URA approved the purchase following the meeting.
This acquisition will allow the site to continue to be used for major film production purposes, and OFS will continue to manufacture optical fiber in the retained property. The purchase will also enable redevelopment of the acquired portion of the property, creating a major catalyst for redevelopment along the Jimmy Carter Boulevard corridor, a priority for the Board of Commissioners.
"This property is the gateway to Gwinnett County and is one of the premier pieces of real estate in the metro Atlanta area, making this not only a good deal for our community but truly a strategic investment in its long-term success," said District 2 Commissioner Lynette Howard. "This new partnership will enable one of Gwinnett County's top employers to continue to expand its operations and create jobs that will spur additional economic opportunity. This move also gives us a greater say in the site's potential redevelopment opportunities in the future."
The 169-acre tract of land adjacent to I-85 and Jimmy Carter Blvd. is comprised of three primary structures, Buildings 20, 30 and 50, as well as multiple draw towers used for the manufacture of optical fiber. The URA has agreed to purchase approximately 104 acres, including Buildings 20 and 50. Building 20 features 260,750 square feet of office space, while Building 50 has 422,800 square feet currently allocated to film production. Additionally, the URA will lease roughly 60,000 square feet of office space in Building 20 back to OFS for a three-year term.
OFS is retaining 66 acres of the existing site, including Building 30, and the existing manufacturing facilities for its fiber optics business. The company is currently expanding its operations and workforce on the site.
For several years, OFS has designated a portion of its property to movie production. In recent years, the site has served as a principal production facility for more than 35 movie and TV productions, including multiple major film franchises.
The total cost of the acquisition is approximately $34.32 million. The property is situated within the Gwinnett County Opportunity Zone, which means it is eligible for financing through Urban Redevelopment Agency Revenue Bonds, which will be issued by the URA with an annual debt service of approximately $2.45 million. Revenues from ongoing film production on the property, as well as lease payments from OFS on Building 20, are projected to cover most of the annual debt service.
Per the details of the contract, OFS will manage and operate the studio space on behalf of Gwinnett County. In addition, Manhattan Beach Studios, which has marketed the facility to various productions on behalf of OFS, will continue to do so for the URA.
"The proliferation of hyper-scale and edge data centers, 5G wireless, and fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), along with the greater digitization of communications in business, are creating the need for fiber in Georgia and around the world," said Timothy F. Murray, head of the Global Optical Fiber and Cable business of Furukawa Electric and CEO and Chairman of OFS. "Furukawa Electric is responding with greater capacity, which you can see with the expansions and employment growth in Norcross and Carrollton. We foresee this demand continuing into the next decade with communication traffic estimated to increase during this period. The proceeds from the sale of the surplus assets will be reinvested to address the growth in our business."
The seller, OFS, was represented by Michael C. Warren, Senior Managing Director of Newmark Knight Frank on the transaction.