Showing posts with label Retail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Retail. Show all posts

Bits & Bites [Atlanta Commercial Real Estate News]

Barkers Red Hots plans to close on Windy Hill Road in Marietta on Friday June 23rd. Glenn Robins and his wife Vivian started Barkers as a downtown Atlanta, Georgia pushcart in 1984. Barkers Red Hots closed in 1995 and remained closed until Glenn and Vivian reopened their beloved operation in 2007 as a quick service restaurant on Windy Hill Road in Marietta. Since reopening, Barkers Red Hots has racked up a slew of awards, including “Atlanta’s Best Hot Dog.”  The pair added a second location on W. Crossville Road in Roswell in 2011, but it closed in late 2014.   One might have thought the halo affect of the nearby SunTrust Park might have helped the Windy Hill operation, but alas, that seems not to have been the case.

A new Krispy Kreme is planned for the site of a former Conoco gas station at 9420 Highway 92 in Woodstock. The North Carolina based eatery is planning a new 2,827 square foot freestanding restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating on the roughly one acre parcel.

Dr. Mary Millkey plans to open Millkey Way Pediatric Dentistry later this year at West Paces Ferry shopping center in Buckhead.  The dental practice replaces children's boutique Gretchen's, which closed last year after 64 years in business.  Dr. Millkey currently practices at Legacy Pediatric Dentistry in Kennesaw.

Tokyo Grill and Wingstop at Toco Hills were both destroyed in a fire last Friday afternoon.  The two restaurants share a building on North Druid Hills Road that local sources say was many years ago a McDonald's restaurant.  The cause of the fire has not yet been announced, nor has any news on when or if the restaurants will rebuild.  A June 2014 fire destroyed the LongHorn Steakhouse restaurant across the street from last week's fire.  The LongHorn was abandoned and later demolished, waiting for over two years before it was rebuilt, finally reopening last August.  

Mark your calendars for November 20th. "With critical milestones achieved at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and overall construction on track for its opening on August 26th, the process of decommissioning the Georgia Dome has been restarted. The date for implosion of the Dome has been set for Monday, Nov. 20 at 7.30 a.m. The major work of stripping and preparing the Georgia Dome for implosion will begin in earnest over the next two weeks. The Atlanta Falcons will host the Arizona Cardinals in an NFL preseason game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on August 26 as the first major event in the new stadium.   As announced in late April, the site of the Georgia Dome will become a green space known as The Home Depot Backyard. It will serve as parking and tailgating areas on game days for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United of MLS. The 13-acre site will be activated as a community space on non-game days throughout the year once complete.   “Significant progress on Mercedes-Benz Stadium is achieved every day and we’ve hit a few exciting milestones on the roof over the last week,” said Steve Cannon, chief executive officer of AMB Group, LLC. “With strong confidence, we’ve asked the contractors to move forward getting the Georgia Dome ready for implosion on Nov. 20.”"

Cafe Bello, a new kosher restaurant, recently opened on Chamblee Dunwoody Road, just off Peachtree Boulevard. The restaurant, which is basically across the street from Chamblee High School, features a menu of popular Israeli dishes such as falafel, hummus, salmon and shakshouka, a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions, often spiced with cumin.

Delightful Donuts has opened a second location.  The new location is at 1540 Old Alabama Road, in a small strip center, not far from the Connexion shopping center in Roswell.  The first Delightful Donuts is located on Georgia Highway 9 in Milton.

Atlanta based Piedmont Healthcare (dba Piedmont Medical Care Corporation) is taking over a large portion of the former CB2 furniture space in Midtown.  CB2, the sibling brand of Crate & Barrel, closed the store in late 2015, citing "high rent." Several permit applications were filed with City of Atlanta last week to begin converting 8,217 square feet of mezzanine level space at 1080 Peachtree Street NE, into the Piedmont Healthcare primary care facility. The new primary care office with onsite lab will have extended hours and is slated to open in early 2018. According to permits filed by CB2 in 2009 ahead of their 2010 opening, the space is 13,819 square feet in total.  The fact that Piedmont seems to be taking most, but not all, of the space, seems to suggest that the long running rumor that Chipotle Mexican Grill is planning to come to the project could be true.  Piedmont's CB2 conversion is the latest in a trend of restaurant/retail conversions to medical use.   In April, ToNeTo Atlanta was first to report that Harken Health had leased the former Gatsby's Social Club in Mitown Promenade for a new healthcare office and while Emory Healthcare transformed the abandoned former Justin's restaurant in south Buckhead into a primary care office earlier this year. 

The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead has quietly named Stephen Toevs the Executive Chef at the hotel and its upcoming Mediterranean-influenced restaurant, Trade RootStephen Toevs is a veteran of Marriott International, and according to his LinkedIn, was most recently Executive Chef at The Ritz-Carlton Aruba.  Trade Root is expected to debut later this fall while the hotel is expected to be re-flagged later this summer. 

Taqueria del Sol’s new location in Chamblee’s Peachtree Station opens for lunch service today! The restaurant is located within the soon to be Whole Foods anchored center on Peachtree Boulevard at Johnson Ferry Road.  The Chamblee location will be open for lunch only today through Saturday, June 17. After June 17, the restaurant will be open for regular lunch and dinner service.  The Chamblee location will operate for lunch Monday through Friday 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and Saturday 12:00 until 3:00 p.m. Dinner will be served Tuesday through Thursday from 5:30 until 9:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday dinner service will run from 5:30 until 10:00 p.m. The location will be closed all day Sunday and Monday for dinner service.  The Chamblee location is the chain's fifth in Georgia joining existing locations on the Westside, Decatur, Cheshire Bridge Road and Athens.  Another Taqueria del Sol is planned for Memorial Drive's Larkin on Memorial project in early 2018.   

HOBNOB Neighborhood Tavern plans to open their second location at TOWN Brookhaven July 10th. Hobnob's original location is in Midtown where owner Sean Yeremyan  renovated a former Caribou Coffee at the intersection of Piedmont Avenue and Monroe Drive.  Hobnob's Brookhaven location opens in place of Smash Kitchen & Bar, which closed in 2015 as part of the Here to Serve restaurant collapse.  The space was originally occupied by Stir Crazy, a short-lived Atlanta location of the national Asian chain.

Broadway Cafe, a popular kosher restaurant in Toco Hills, has been sold.  Broadway is the second kosher restaurant to change hands in recent months following the sale of Fuego Mundo, in Sandy Springs, earlier this year. After closing on the restaurant, business partners Christina Laurie and Julie Meni closed Broadway Cafe in order to complete "extensive renovations."  Sources say the duo plan to tweak the menu and its offerings as well as updating the kitchen and dining areas.  There is no official word on when the restaurant will reopen or if a name change is coming.   Steve Josovitz of The Shumacher Group, Inc represented the sellers in both the Broadway Cafe and Fuego Mundo restaurant sales. 

Metro Atlanta's newest Zoës Kitchen opened yesterday at the new Parkside West Cobb shopping center on Dallas Highway adjacent to the Avenue West Cobb in Marietta.  In the past few months, Zoës Kitchen had added three new locations to metro Atlanta including eateries in Decatur at Decatur Crossing, Kennesaw at Kennesaw Marketplace and Chamblee at Peachtree Station.  Another new Zoës Kitchen is planned for The Plaza at City Springs in Sandy Springs. 

BlueTop, a new "American fast casual" restaurant first proposed in 2015, is targeting an August 1 opening in historic downtown Chamblee.  The restaurant, located between Union Hill Kitchen and Southbound on Peachtree Road, is being opened by Atlanta native and former Portofino Executive Chef Matt Marcus and his business partner Andy Lasky.  According to a variance filed by Lasky with the City of Chamblee in 2015, the 1930s era building was only 800 square feet but was enlarged by the addition of a 1,343 square foot covered patio space for the restaurant.  The variance goes on to describe the concept as a "casual counter service restaurant that will promote a vibrant atmosphere."  BlueTop will be open for lunch and dinner and will seek to attract Chamblee's growing number of families and young professionals.  The BlueTop restaurant building was originally home to the BlueTop Taxi Cab company which is where the restaurant gets its name.  

Gymboree, the San Francisco-based children's apparel retailer, announced plans earlier this week to shutter between 375-450 stores in wake of their Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.   The company started in 1976 and has gone through a number of changes in ownership/management over the years, most recently being purchased by private equity firm Bain Capital in 2010 in a deal valued at $1.8 billion.  Last July, Gymboree agreed to sell its Play & Music educational entertainment division to Singapore-based investment group Zeavion Holding for $127.5 million.  The Play & Music unit, with franchised metro locations at Toco Hills, Sandy Springs, Alpharetta and Lawrenceville, is not part of the bankruptcy filing and is not slated to see any closures. Gymboree has 1,281 locations, including 582 Gymboree stores, 172 Gymboree Outlet stores, 149 Janie and Jack shops and 378 Crazy 8 stores as of April 29.  In metro Atlanta, Gymboree has retail stores at Lenox Square, Perimeter Mall, The Forum, Cumberland Mall, Gwinnett Place Mall, Avenue East Cobb, Avalon, The Shoppes at Webb Gin and Town Center at Cobb.  The company also operates a Gymboree Outlet at Sugarloaf Mills.  Gymboree also operates Janie & Jack boutiques in Phipps Plaza and Avalon.  There is no word yet on where or when store closures will occur.  

Intown resident Jason Waller has launched an indiegogo campaign to open Dad's Coffee Bar. The Medlock Park resident had his eye on a space that reportedly recently went to another tenant.  Waller is actively looking elsewhere in/around Medlock Park with hopes of the serving the "greater Decatur area."  About a week into the fundraising effort, Dad's has raised just over $1,000 of the overall $25,000 goal.  

From the Indiegogo page:

"My name is Jason C Waller. As of today I am a 38-year-old dogwalker/musician/booking agent/band leader/ Father of 3/ Husband of one/songwriter/amateur Bird Watcher/ wood carver/ hammock maker, just to name a few of the things I do.  Late last year I decided to get proactive about my depression. I started talking about it. I began shooting a video series called DAD Presents. These videos paired conversations with songs and featured local songwriters in the Decatur Area all focused on breaking the stigma attached to mental illness. I looked into Nuci’s Space, which is an Athens-based coffee shop that also rents out band equipment and connects local musicians to the health care that they need. There are summer camps and fundraisers all in the name of Mental Health. I looked for something like that in Atlanta. I couldn’t really find what I was looking for so I decided to create my own.  

This is what I am looking build:  A successful coffee bar/music venue in Medlock Plaza. I plan to book acoustic bands Thur-Sat evenings.  I want to continue the DAD Presents videos and release them on regular intervals. I also plan on reaching out to local radio stations to produce and stream regular interview/performances from regional artists.  When The Back Room of Dad’s Coffee Bar isn’t hosting performances, it can be used by the community for daytime activities and events that support the DAD mission to promote community development and mental wellness.  I’m thinking yoga, meditation, family movie nights, support groups,  and community meetings, and more."

d'Vine Wine Bar & Shop abruptly closed at The Shops of Dunwoody near Dunwoody Village Monday.  The restaurant, opened by retired IBM/PeopleSoft employee Bob Leavey, had been open about 15 years and seemingly closed without any notice to patrons.  A number of ToNeTo Atlanta readers shared with me a sign posted on the restaurant's front door indicating it was evicted by the DeKalb County Marshal's Office.    Sources close to the property indicate the space may already be leased to a new tenant. There is, however, no word at this time as to what precipitated the closure.  Vintage Pizza opened a new restaurant in the center last month, joining existing eateries Co'm Vietnamese Grill and J. Christopher's.    

Planned Perimeter Exchange Project to Cash in on Former Bank Property

Click photo to enlarge 
Large mixed use development planned for Dunwoody.

Atlanta-based Branch Properties has revived their plan to develop a prime piece of real estate in Dunwoody.  The vacant bank branch at 84 Perimeter Center East occupies nearly three acres across from Perimeter Mall and has been vacant for about a decade.  

The last bank I recall operating from the site was the National Bank of Commerce but sources indicate the bank was originally a First Atlanta branch.  NBC closed shortly after its 2004 acquisition by SunTrust.  

Last year the bank reopened, albeit briefly, as Perimeter Trust, a faux bank used as a filming location for the upcoming feature film "Baby Driver."  The film, which is due to be released June 28th, stars Kevin Spacey, Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm and Eiza González and involves, you guessed it: a bank robbery!

The bank as "Perimeter Trust" - Photo courtesy of Jennifer Brett of the AJC
Branch first proposed a redevelopment of the property in 2008.  Back then, before the City of Dunwoody was formed, the Dunwoody Homeowners Association (DHA) gave their endorsement for the planned project to DeKalb county.  DHA President Robert Wittenstein indicates that the developers were subsequently granted the commercial rezoning needed by the county.

The approximately 200 room, twelve story hotel concept remains largely unchanged, but rather than a 70,000 square foot fitness center as was previously proposed, Branch now plans to build a mixed-use development with about 50,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space divided between two, two-story buildings. 

Perimeter Exchange, as the property is marketed, would have about 300 parking spaces, most of which would be located in a two story parking deck below the hotel.  

While Branch is not yet at a point where it is ready to announce either its hotel partner or any would-be tenants, Jack Haylett, senior vice president of Branch Properties, told Reporter Newspapers that "his company has received a great deal of interest from hotels wanting to locate at the site including hotels not currently in the area."

While I would personally love to see an Andaz, an upscale boutique offering from Hyatt Hotels, open in the area, more likely candidates include Renaissance, AC by Marriott or perhaps a property from the recently launched Marriott brand Moxy Hotels.  Another possibility is a new hotel from InterContinental Hotels Group given their North American headquarters is essentially a stone's throw from the property.  
The site plan for the project indicates that there will be 3,765, 5,750 and 9,000 square foot restaurant suites on the first floor.  The first floor will also include 4,350 and 4,825 square foot retail spaces joined by a second 4,825 retail space on the second floor.  A large 22,335 square foot space that can be subdivided, is also listed for the second story.

Atlanta-based The Shopping Center Group is handling the retail and restaurant leasing for the project.  The firm's marketing materials refer to the area as "Atlanta’s #1 office market with over 29 million SF of office space & over 136,000 employees within a 3-mile radius."

The Reporter Newspaper article indicates that entrances to the project would be off Perimeter Center East.  Additionally, no applications for the proposed development have been submitted to the city, but rezoning will be needed for the proposed restaurant/retail space.  

The article also states that there are plans to conduct a study to address concerns about traffic on Ashford-Dunwoody Road.  This would seem to be essential, considering that traffic around Perimeter Mall has only worsened since the project was first proposed so many years ago.  

It's also worth noting that since the project was first proposed, a new freestanding Starbucks with a drive-thru opened adjacent to the project in late 2012, as did multiple new apartment communities behind the project, adding hundreds of new units.  

The DHA did, however, vote against the planned redevelopment of the former DeKalb county police precinct into a Pollo Tropical restaurant in late 2015.   Hines Atlanta Associates, the firm who had planned to build the restaurant, withdrew its rezoning request to build the drive-thru restaurant in February of the following year.  It's perhaps a good thing that the Pollo Tropical never materialized, as the chain has closed four of its 17 metro locations since last fall with additional closures likely.  

Atlanta based Hotel Equities built a new 132 room Hampton Inn hotel at the corner of Ashford-Dunwoody Road and Perimeter Center North that opened last May.  The firm is also building a 127 room Residence Inn by Marriott adjacent to the Walmart Supercenter anchored Perimeter Village shopping center.  The Residence Inn has had a few construction related delays, but is currently on track for a late summer opening, according to a source familiar with the project.  

Branch Properties also owns nearby Ashford Restaurant Park, home to Brio, McCormick & Schmick and P.F. Chang's, among other properties it owns in metro Atlanta.

What are your thoughts on this significant redevelopment? What, if anything, can the City of Dunwoody do to ease traffic congestion around Perimeter Mall, and especially on Ashford-Dunwoody Road?  What types of retail or restaurant tenants would you like to see open in Perimeter Exchange?

Please share your thoughts below.  
| June 09, 2017 | , , ,

Lululemon to Shutter Ivivva Store at Lenox Square, Nearly 40 Company-wide

Ivivva plans to close their only retail store in Atlanta.
Vancouver based lululemon athletica recently announced plans to shutter most of their ivivva stores which carry the company's pre-teen (girls 6-12) targeted clothing line.  

Ivivva, which was first introduced in 2009 under then CEO Christine Day, was first tested in the company's home market of Canada before being expanding to dozens of showrooms and stores across North America starting in 2012.  

Ivivva sold $44 tank tops and $78 hoodies and was meant to appeal to a wider range of sport activities (think dance, figure skating, track and field, and soccer) than its parent company. 

First introduced as ivivva athletica, the brand was later shortened to simply ivivva. More recently the brand adopted another positioning, "ivivva by lululemon."  Oftentimes a new brand/division will join its brand with its parent organization (i.e. 365 by Whole Foods Market), later shedding the dual branding once it makes a name for itself. For ivivva to have done the opposite leads me to believe the brand had difficulty establishing itself on its own, later adding the lululemon branding for credibility and awareness in hopes of finding success from the "halo effect" of their association.  

In Atlanta, the company previously operated showrooms in Dunwoody and Alpharetta, both of which have closed.  The company's lone full-line store in metro Atlanta opened last March in Lenox Square.  

The store, which was located on the second floor of the Buckhead mall and opened last March, took over space previously occupied by bankrupt footwear retailer Bakers. The 2,333 square foot space is located near Mori Luggage & Gifts, adjacent to where I revealed earlier today that new to market men's retailer JUNK de LUXE plans to open in September. 

Lululemon said that it would close about 40 of the company's 55 ivivva stores and convert half of the remaining stores to Lululemon stores. It will also close all of the ivivva showrooms and other temporary locations.  Lululemon promised it would continue to sell ivivva merchandise online, as well as in the eight remaining physical stores, although it did not disclose their locations.

A store employee at the Lenox Square store confirmed their store is closing and indicated to me that their last day in business will be Sunday August 20th.       

Today, lululemon operates six stores in Georgia including Westside Provisons District, Ponce City Market, Shops Around Lenox, Perimeter Mall, Broughton Street in Savannah, and Avalon in Alpharetta.  The company also operates a showroom in Athens.       

In April, Kit & Ace, an upscale "athleisure" company launched by Shannon Wilson, wife of lululemon athletica founder Chip Wilson, and their son J.J. Wilson, closed all of their locations outside of Canada.  At the time of the announcement, the company operated only one location in metro Atlanta at The Shops Buckhead Atlanta. 

Are you or your kids Ivivva shoppers? If so, will you continue to patronize the company via its ecommerce site? What are your thoughts on the brand and its offerings?  

Please share your thoughts below   
| June 07, 2017 |

[Report] North DeKalb Mall May Finally Bag Costco

A rendering of what the North DeKalb Costco may look like 
Costco Wholesale at North DeKalb Mall reportedly back on track. 

Local blog Decaturish reports that a "source" told them that Costco has officially "green lighted" a store at North DeKalb Mall, with plans to open in March 2020. The source reportedly said that timeline is subject to change, however.

While I have personally never been directly involved in commercial real estate, a timeline over two years out for a store that is rather modular, sounded a bit long to me. 

In an effort to clarify, I contacted another developer who spoke with me on condition of anonymity.  This developer, who has worked with Costco previously, indicated that the timeline does sound a big long, especially considering the fact that the North DeKalb Mall site does not [seem to] present any abnormal, or otherwise time consuming issues such as leveling or chemical remediation.  

The developer went on to say that they have known of Costco stores being built in as little as 120 days.  Additionally, the developer stressed that as a matter of policy, Costco does not "officially commit" to projects until they have every i dotted and t crossed.  That said, Costco may very well have "softly committed" to the project without having signed any agreements, as those will likely be delayed until after Costco receives all necessary zoning and permitting approvals from DeKalb county.  

Earlier this week, a ToNeTo Atlanta reader and resident of the North DeKalb Mall area indicated he had been told that the owners of North DeKalb Mall are "floating some plans with the city that they are not yet publicly sharing."  This may very well be Sterling Organization and Lennar Commercial (the mall's owner since late 2014) showing their latest "de-malling" plans to the county to move things along.  

"De-malling," the act of removing the enclosures of a mall to create a more open air environment, is one popular trend in under performing malls that is meant to attract both new tenants and new customers.  

If Costco does take over the former Macy's space, as I've previously reported, the rest of the mall, save Marshalls and AMC Theatres, are likely to be removed to create a more open air atmosphere like The Forum in Norcross.  

Last month, I reported that longtime North DeKalb Mall retailer Play it Again Sports would be relocating from the mall to North Decatur Plaza.  The used sporting goods retailer is the latest in a string of departures from the mall that also includes ROSS Dress For Less and Rack Room Shoes.  What makes the Play it Again move most significant is that they occupied a space directly beside the former Macy's space.  The move was viewed by many locals as an indication that the mall was moving to free up the spaces surrounding the former  department store in preparation for movement by Costco.  

Attending last month's ICSC RECon in Las Vegas, the largest shopping center-focused convention in the county, I visited the Sterling Organization booth to inquire as to an update for North DeKalb Mall and was told "there is no news to share at this time."  

As I'd done previously, I contacted Atlanta native and Costco Wholesale Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti for comment on the new store. Galanti was unavailable for comment and a real estate representative said she was unable to comment, citing the company's policy to only comment on "confirmed or under construction stores" (those listed on the company's website).  

The furthest out that the Costco website shows a store scheduled to open is a Business Center in San Francisco this coming August.  

When the Costco was proposed in 2008, there was also talk of a store in West Midtown and also in Brookhaven.  The West Midtown site, even if Costco was still interested, is no longer in play and is expected to open next year as a large-format Kroger.  The Brookhaven store, at TOWN Brookhaven, opened October 28th, 2010, preceded by one in Ringgold near the Georgia/Tennessee line, which opened the day before.  

In the years since, Costco opened a new store in Cumming in late August 2014.  Another Costco has been approved near The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta in Woodstock.  Brantley Day of the City of Woodstock tells me Costco was issued their Land Disturbance Permit May 19th, and that as far as he knows, the company is on track to open Memorial Day: May 28th, 2018.

Given the tremendous support for the Costco store at North DeKalb Mall, I do not foresee any roadblocks for the store's construction and see the reported timeline as an effort to provide wiggle room.  Given that the Costco store at North DeKalb Mall has now been "in the works" for about a decade, the company is likely being extra cautious in their projected timeline.  Better to "under promise and over deliver" than vice versa.  Would anyone really be mad if Costco opened in June 2019, for instance, instead of March 2020? I think not.  

Are you excited for the prospect of having a Costco Wholesale finally open at North DeKalb Mall?  Are you a current Sam's Club member who will switch to Costco once they open? What other tenants would you like to see added to North DeKalb Mall?  

Please share your thoughts below  
| June 07, 2017 | ,

Bits & Bites

The new Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken in Chamblee 
Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken on Peachtree Road at Broad Street in Chamblee is now open.  The restaurant quietly opened late last month, and is the third franchised unit in metro Atlanta from the Memphis-based chain. Previous locations have opened in Peachtree Center downtown and on Roswell Road in Sandy Springs.  A fourth metro location that I previously reported was planned for Belvedere Plaza in Decatur has apparently been "shelved" indefinitely.  The local franchise group continues to search for additional metro locations.  

Healthy eatery upbeet announced via Instagram that they finally plan to open on Howell Mill Road on the westside this coming Saturday June 10th.  The restaurant is being opened by the team behind neighboring YEAH! Burger. Upbeet, which has been in the works since at least 2014, was supposed to have opened last year, but was plagued by seemingly endless delays.  In addition to upbeet,  Erik Maier, co-founder and CEO of Better Brands, the parent of both concepts, has signed leases on at least three new YEAH! locations in Buckhead, Chamblee and Nashville.  It's unclear when or if those restaurants will open.

Wagaya, a restaurant specializing in Japanese fare and sushi, has opened their newest location in Emory Village. The restaurant, which opened in place of the former Bad Dog Taqueria/Dankbaar Taco, quietly opened last week. The original Wagaya is on 14th Street in midtown near Georgia Tech.  

A new Woodspring Suites hotel is planned for Mount Zion Road & Highway 138 in Stockbridge.  The extended stay hotel would be about 48,000 square feet on four stories with 123 guest rooms.  There are currently Woodspring Properties in both Chamblee and Alpharetta, among other cities.  The Wichita, Kansas-based hotel chain first launched in 2003 as Value Place before changing its name to Woodspring Hotels in April 2015.  

A new Captain D's is planned for Baker Road in Acworth. The new approximately 2,500 square foot freestanding restaurant will be built between a relatively new Fairfield Inn & Suites and a freestanding Family Dollar store.  The Nashville based chain has had many changes in ownership since its 1969 founding, today owned by Centre Partners, a New York private equity firm.  The chain has seen renewed development interest after delivering improved results over the past few years.  Last year, a new location opened in Kingsland Georgia near the Georgia/Florida line

MOD Pizza opened its first Atlanta area location at Kennesaw Marketplace in Kennesaw this past Monday. The local franchise group has other metro Atlanta MODs planned for Decatur and Sandy Springs, while the group has its eye on a handful of other communities for additional development. 

New to market European retailer JUNK de LUXE plans to open in September on the upper level of Lenox Square in Buckhead.  The store will open next to ivivva in a 4,993 square foot space previously home to Wet Seal.  JUNK de LUXE features menswear from such lines as Levi’s and Saville Row.  "The store finds inspiration in art, people and fashion to create a relaxed attitude with a sharp, vintage edge."

Despite rumors of (and perhaps hopes of) a Cracker Barrel coming to the former Steak & Ale in Tucker, city sources confirm that a 90 unit senior living community has been approved for the site.   

Charleston, South Carolina-based Asian fusion restaurant, CO has opened at the 675 North Highland development.  CO offers a "uniquely inspired" Pan-Asian menu, serving banh mi, pho, ramen and dumplings, as well as sushi and signature cocktails. CO will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.  The 2,965 square foot restaurant is located in the end space at the northern end of the complex opposite Rize Artisan Pizza. 

Sears Holdings quietly announced another round of stores closures yesterday.  The metro Atlanta was spared, but Kmart stores in Calhoun and Fort Oglethorpe, and a Sears store in Dalton were announced to be closing.  The closures are expected to be completed no later than this coming September.  

Sources say that the owners of upcoming micro-food hall The Canteen now expect to be open next weekend, fingers crossed.  The concept, which replaces what was most recently The Spence restaurant in midtown's Tech Square, will feature Yalla, Fred's Meat & Bread, TGM Bagel and Square Bar, all concepts from the owners of The General Muir and West Egg Cafe.  

Millard "Mickey" Drexler announced Monday he was stepping down as CEO of  retailer J.Crew.  Drexler, formerly CEO of The Gap, was hired as CEO of J. Crew in 2003, and is credited with successfully re-positioning J.Crew into a more upscale, aspirational brand.  Drexler's creative counterpart, Jenna Lyons, who too was instrumental in J.Crew's rise in popularity over the last decade or so, departed the company in April, as did men's designer Frank Muytjens.  It's no secret that retail is in trouble, and among the most impacted companies are teen and young adult apparel retailers such as J.Crew, Abercrombie & Fitch and Aeropostale.  Drexler will reportedly step down as CEO at the end of the month, but will stay on as chairman.  Drexler will be succeeded by West Elm president Jim Brett, who will assume the role in July.  

For a cool play-by-play of how everything went right, and then wrong, at J.Crew, check out this article.  

According to the Tropical Smoothie Cafe website, the growing chain has at least five more metro Atlanta locations in development.  New Tropical Smoothie Cafe eateries are "coming soon" to University House on Spring Street in Midtown, near Zoës Kitchen in Presidential Commons on Scenic Highway in Snellville, behind Zoës Kitchen at The Plaza at City Springs on Roswell Road in Sandy Springs, near Zoës Kitchen in Decatur Crossing on the Scott Boulevard side of the project in Decatur, and Canton Exchange on Cumming Highway in Canton.   In the past few months, the Atlanta-based chain has added new locations in Kennesaw, Brookhaven and Johns Creek, among others.  

The Wells Fargo bank branch at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is closing.  The bank branch, which opened shortly after the CONRAC (consolidated rental car center) opened in 2010, is located near space in the airport previously occupied by rental agencies.  A counter at the branch, which previously displayed a sign stating they were "now hiring," now states the branch will close at 12PM on August 17th, 2017.  

Lidl, the European grocer with big plans for the U.S. market, announced an interesting partnership Monday. The German discount grocer has enlisted fashion designer and supermodel Heidi Klum to design an exclusive fashion collection.  The line, which is expected to be available at both European and U.S. stores "later this year," is seen by analysts as the grocer's attempt to appeal to more affluent shoppers. Lidl has plans for well over a dozen locations in Georgia and as I announced last month, plans to construct a new 756,000, nearly $86 million distribution facility in Cartersville.  The first U.S. store openings are expected to begin June 15th. Nine stores are expected to open in the coming weeks including five in North Carolina, two in South Carolina and two in Virginia.  The company indicated that 90% of the products will be private label and prices will be about 50% lower than at other grocers. 

Follow ToNeTo Atlanta on Instagram at @tonetoatl for exclusive progress photos, #tonetotravels pics and lots more! 

Empire South Ventures South for New Location

New retailer coming to Virginia-Highland

North Georgia based Empire South Clothier plans to open a new location in Virginia-Highland later this year.  The new shop will open in place of Half Moon Outfitters, which closed this past February.  

Owners Derek and Kari Beth Chitwood opened the first Empire South (then called The Peach State Pride Store) in Watkinsville in May 2013.  Successful in Watkinsville, the couple added locations in Lavonia (2014) and Athens (2015).  The Lavonia location trades under the name V.F. Chitwood's Clothier (named for Derek's grandpa, Virlyn ‘V.F.’ Chitwood) but is basically otherwise the same as the other stores.

Empire South carries clothing, gifts and accessories for men, women, and kids from brands such as Peter Millar, Southern Marsh, Patagonia, Stanley, Lilly Pulitzer, Kate Spade NY and Orvis.  The store also carries a variety of southern collegiate merchandise.

In a phone conversation earlier today, Kari Beth Chitwood said "we want this to be a community store."  She said she and her husband plan to "tailor the Virginia-Highland store to what those in the Virginia-Highland community want." Kari Beth added that they chose to open their first metro Atlanta store in Virginia-Highland due to its "community feel that exemplifies our brand."  

The new Virginia-Highland location is about 4,200 square feet, on par with their other three stores.  

In addition to their growing retail presence, the Chitwoods also own and distribute their own label, Peach State Pride.  Peach State Pride, as its name suggests, is a brand built on Georgia symbols and history.  According to its website, the brand is carried in over 100 retail outlets including Mountain High Outfitters at Ponce City Market and West Paces Ferry, Kinnucan's in Alpharetta, Atlantic Station & Peachtree Corners and RAK Outfitters in Kennesaw and Woodstock, among others.  Peach State Pride is also carried in each of the Chitwoods' stores.  

Kari Beth indicates that the Virginia-Highland Empire South store should open early this fall.  

Are you excited for the return of local retail to Virginia-Highland?  Have you ever been to a Empire South store before?  Much has been said about the death of retail. If you still buy locally, what is your favorite shop and why?

Please share your thoughts below.   
| June 05, 2017 |

Bits & Bites

Tiff's Treats plans to open what will be its fourth Atlanta area location on Saturday June 10th near Cumberland Mall. The cookie shop will open in a former Quiznos Sub space at The Crossings at Akers Mill center on Akers Mill Road across from Sears at Cumberland Mall.  The small center is anchored by Jos. A. Bank.  Austin, TX based Tiff's Treats entered the Atlanta market last year with locations in Alpharetta, Midtown and Sandy Springs.  The company plans to open a fifth location later this summer in Decatur at Fuqua Development's Decatur Crossing shopping center.  Sources say the company is targeting a few other locations in metro Atlanta and that a Buckhead location is "in the works." 

High Road Craft Ice Cream has opened a seasonal pop-up shop at the Whole Foods Market at Merchant's Walk in East Cobb. The shop will feature sundaes, cones, shakes, floats, and even toasted brioche ice cream sandwiches. The pop-up is open every weekend until Labor Day: Fridays noon-4pm, Saturdays noon-6pm, and Sundays 12-4pm. 

New to market quick serve pizza joint PizzaFire plans to open its first Atlanta area location next Tuesday, June 6th in TOWN Brookhaven.  PizzaFire is taking the place of similar concept, Treza, which opened in the center in late 2011 and closed in early 2014.  PizzaFire has plans to open a second location in Roswell.  

Hobnob plans to open their second location at TOWN Brookhaven in mid July. Hobnob's original location is in Midtown where the local eatery occupies a former Caribou Coffee at the intersection of Piedmont Avenue and Monroe Drive.  Hobnob's Brookhaven location opens in place of Smash Kitchen & Bar, which closed in 2015 as part of the Here to Serve restaurant collapse.  The space was originally occupied by Stir Crazy, a short-lived Atlanta location of the national Asian chain.  

The Wendy's at 2096 Metropolitan Parkway in southwest Atlanta is currently closed as it undergoes what the company refers to as an "image activation" renovation.  This renovation follows similar renovations at other Wendy's restaurants, such as the locations on Marietta Boulevard in northwest Atlanta and on Piedmont Avenue in northeast Atlanta. 

The Roast, a new quick serve restaurant from Whole Foods Market, is slated to open within the grocer's Ponce de Leon store in Midtown tomorrow, June 1st.  The restaurant, which has been in the works since last year, occupies a portion of what was previously Staples but became part of the expanded Whole Foods when the office supply store shrunk its footprint.  The Roast will feature Brazilian fare in a fast casual setting.

There are two new gas stations and companion convenience stores under construction on Metropolitan Parkway in southwest Atlanta.  The new businesses are being constructed at 2461 and 2477 Metropolitan Parkway.  The business at 2477 is slated to feature fuel under the Shell brand name while I have been unable to confirm who will supply fuel to the other location.  

The short-lived Fiorello's in Brookhaven is currently being marketed for lease by The Shumacher Group.  The sales listing indicates monthly rent of $11,000, all in. The listing goes on to state that the 3,800 square foot space has 8 years left on its current lease with an option period available. The seller reportedly invested $600,000 to open the original concept, Brookhaven Provisions, about a year ago.  The closure was reportedly due to a "disagreement with operating partner."  The business is priced at $125,000, which includes all furniture, fixtures, equipment and rights to lease. The sales listing also states, "Seller would consider partnering but only with established very strong group but some upfront fees will be required."

A number of Family Dollar stores are actively closing following the 2015 purchase of Family Dollar by Dollar Tree. The local closures include stores in Northeast Plaza in Brookhaven and on Metropolitan Parkway in southeast Atlanta. Store officials indicated that most Family Dollar stores located within close proximity of Dollar Tree stores will close as part of the consolidation.    

Henri's Bakery closed its popular Irby Avenue location this past weekend and reopened yesterday at nearby Andrews Square.  The cafe also operates a second location is Sandy Springs. 

Retailer VANS Off The Wall plans to begin renovating both its Lenox Square and Mall of Georgia stores soon.

Hobby Lobby officially opened its newest Atlanta area location this past Monday at the new Tucker Meridian shopping center.

Growler and beer market Ale Yeah! closed its Roswell location on Atlanta street this past Sunday, May 28th.  Ale Yeah's Kennesaw location on Lewis Street closed last spring.  The lone remaining Ale Yeah! is located on West College Avenue in Decatur.  

Struggling retailer Payless ShoeSource announced roughly 400 further stores it plans to close in addition to the previously announced 400 store closures.  Six of the recently announced store closures are in Georgia, three of which are in metro Atlanta.  Payless plans to close its stores in the Buckhead Crossing shopping center at the corner of Piedmont Road and Sidney Marcus Boulevard in Buckhead, on the first floor of the Dillard's wing in Perimeter Mall in Dunwoody, and at Fairington Centre, just off Panola Road in Lithonia.  The other closures are slated for Calhoun, Ft. Oglethorpe, and Woodstock.  

Archer Paper Goods plans to open a second location at The Battery Atlanta in Cobb county "later this summer."  The original Archer opened at Ponce City Market last summer. The store, which features assorted paper goods and gift materials, is the brainchild of Dan Collier who also owns The Merchant and Collier Candy Company, among other shops. 

Clothing and accessories retailer Michael Kors announced today that it plans to close 100-125 stores over the next two years. The company also revealed that sales fell in its most recent quarter and that its outlook for the rest of the year will be worse than expected.  The company did not reveal the locations of the stores it expects to close.  In metro Atlanta, Michael Kors operates stores at Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza in Buckhead, Perimeter Mall in Dunwoody, Cumberland Mall in Smyrna, North Point Mall in Alpharetta, and Mall of Georgia in Buford. The retailer also operates stores in Augusta Mall in Augusta and downtown Savannah.  Michael Kors also operates outlet stores at The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta in Woodstock, Tanger Outlets in Locust Grove and Pooler, and North Georgia Premium Outlets in Dawsonville.

Restoration Hardware Opening Big New Outlet Next Year in Dawsonville

The Dawson Marketplace site plan as seen at the recent ICSC RECon in Las Vegas
New center's second phase lands exciting tenants

Phase two of Dawsonville Marketplace, a joint venture between Hendon Properties and Blanchard Real Estate, has secured a number of new junior anchors.  Kroger, which opened this past November, relocated to the project from nearby Dawson Village where it occupied a 71,672 square foot space.  

Joining the giant 123,590 square foot Kroger Marketplace, which anchors phase one, will be RH Outlet, Bealls Outlet, HomeGoods and Burlington Coat Factory. 

RH Outlet, the new name of the Restoration Hardware Outlet, will move from their current home in the nearby North Georgia Premium Outlets to join the new center.  The upscale retailer will approximately triple in size, growing from 10,160 square feet to 30,022 square feet.  

Restoration Hardware also operates their six-story full-line store, RH Gallery at the Estate in Buckhead on Peachtree Road in Buckhead.  The 70,000 square foot store which opened in late 2014, serves as the state's flagship.  The company previously operated stores in Lenox Square in Buckhead, near Perimeter Mall in Dunwoody and at Mall of Georgia in Buford.  

The new 20,006 square foot HomeGoods store will unite the retailer with its TJX Companies counterpart, Marshalls, which opened in the center this past March.  For anyone hoping that Atlanta might get TJX's new HomeSense store anytime soon, a real estate representative confirmed to me at ICSC RECon that the chain will focus on the northeast, initially.  

Burlington Coat Factory will occupy a 40,232 square foot space while Bealls Outlet will occupy a 22,830 square foot space.  

These new junior anchors join the aforementioned Marshalls as well as Tuesday Morning, Hobby Lobby, Petco, ROSS Dress For Less, and a host of other inline and outparcel restaurants, retailers and services in the sprawling new center.  

Overall, Dawson Marketplace features roughly 500,000 square feet of retail space on about 100 acres.  

Plans call for stores in phase two of the project to begin to open next spring/summer.  A store employee at the existing RH Outlet indicated to me by phone that the store is expected to move sometime in the first half of next year.  

Are you excited for a bigger RH Outlet in town?  What other shops or eateries would you like to see open in Dawsonville Marketplace?  Do you visit Dawsonville and the North Georgia Premium Outlets frequently? 

Please share your thoughts below.  
| May 31, 2017 |
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