Thursday, November 3, 2011

UPDATE: Suburban Plaza Redevelopment Plan Featuring Walmart Supercenter

Back in June, I broke news of Selig Enterprises's planned re-development of of Suburban Plaza with among other things, the addition of a Walmart. At the time, my post received a great deal of attention, and as a result, other media doubted its accuracy, leading representatives from both Selig and Walmart to refute my claims. This week has brought a 360 of sorts, as representatives from both companies met with area residents to discuss their plans for the re-development, including... the addition of a Walmart Supercenter.

Among other things discussed at the meeting were other potentially interested retailers including electronics retailer hhgregg, sporting goods retailer Dick's, home furnishings retailer HomeGoods and craft store Michael's. Additionally, LA Fitness is said to be "extremely interested" in being part of the project. In my earlier post, I mentioned the old Pizza Hut that is currently Cozy Burger Town. This space is scheduled to change hands and be re-concepted in conjunction with the redevelopment.

Oddly, though not mentioned by anyone from Selig, sources tell me Petsmart will take over at least a portion of the former Winn-Dixie / Save Rite store. Perhaps this was deliberately not mentioned to avoid criticism about adding another pet store so close to the existing Pet Supermarket in a nearby shopping center.

With a Facebook fan page dedicated to it, and seemingly countless avid fans of the company, many hearts were surely crushed with the revelation that Trader Joe's has no interest in being a part of the project. Apparently Selig contacted Trader Joe's and was told to "take a hike." Also, it was mentioned that Trader Joe's is not doing well locally and that may be the cause for them showing no interest. Personally, I don't shop there a ton, but it seems like many friends of mine have pantries that seem to be stocked with 90% TJ's merchandise any day of the week.

Big Lots, an existing retailer in Suburban Plaza, is said to be staying "temporarily," perhaps waiting to see how the Walmart will affect their business. I certainly hope they stay, as I already lost one intown Big Lots when Lindbergh Plaza was redeveloped in 2005. There is still, however, a Big Lots on Chamblee Tucker Road in a portion of a vacated Kroger store.

As far as the planned Walmart goes, stories, sketches and rumors continue to spread as to what exactly the store will look like and how big it will end up being. At one point, there was talk of the store being a relatively small 30-40,000 sq' "Neighborhood Market," with 90+% of the store dedicated to grocery items. Now, talk is that the store will be 147,000 sq' Walmart, with 40,000 sq' dedicated to grocery. Contrary to what I had previously been told, Piccadilly Cafeteria to the right, across the parking lot, through to the Last Chance Thrift Store and neighboring former Eckerd will all be torn town to make way for the Walmart. At one point, there was talk that Walmart would only take the Eckerd / Pep Boys spaces ( for the smaller "Neighborhood Market") but that seems not to be the case.

An underground parking structure that will reportedly cost nearly $10 million is being financed exclusively by Walmart. The hiccup here being Selig, on behalf of Walmart, is seeking a variance that would allow a parking ratio of 3.5 per 1,000 opposed to the stated code of 5.5 per 1,000. Also, as of now, the store will be open 24 hours, something I, like many, take issue with, especially with the underground parking deck.
What this does mean, is that the local bowling alley would stay put, at least for now, but that the longstanding Suburban Custom Awards & Framing would be displaced. Family Dollar, another current retailer in Suburban Plaza, may depart when the Walmart opens, and its space could potentially be used to satisfy the needs of the trophy shop, should they wish to stay.

Though it's a little far away, I feel the need to mention how awful the former Cub Foods looks in the shopping center near North DeKalb Mall. Half of the shell remains, with the other half looking like it was blown away, perhaps for a renovation that never materialized. A free standing Mrs. Winner's is also vacant and in need of some TLC. Anyone have any idea what the heck is going on with the center or have any ideas for redevelopment?

As a nearby resident, I have my reservations about the traffic and noise, and potentially the crime associated with a Walmart, but what do you think? Is a Walmart a good neighbor for Decatur?

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Anonymous said...

I have lived in the neighborhood near Suburban for many years. I do not think it's a good match for the nearby neighborhoods.
The Walmart rep said they can build a Walmart every 10 miles to fill the customers' needs. Well I don't want to live surrounded by big box stores.
Not to mention what this will do to an already terrible traffic problem. We know their goal is to now build in urban neighborhoods so I guess there is no stopping them.

Anonymous said...

Someone has planned to build a conference center at the former Cub Foods site. My guess is the plans we stopped when the recession hit.

Anonymous said...

I'm a local as well. And not crazy bout this. I was also not crazy bout the Edgewood property, but I find myself over there quite often. So maybe the updated development at Suburan Plaza will be a good thing. I will sort of miss the small town feel that it offers. I'd rather it stay small and get a facelift instead.

Anonymous said...

As someone who spent a LOT of time at Suburban (and Suburban Too! after it was built) growing up...whether it was going to the new Turtles or shopping at Belk or Cards, Comics, and Games, or the Big B Drugs, or spending hours bowling or playing video games at Suburban Bowl, I can say without a doubt that it is a bit sad but necessary change that needs to happen.

The reservation I would have living in the area is that the property is outside of the City of Decatur...plans, drawings, zoning overlays, etc. etc. mean very little to DeKalb and I'd be shocked that they would have the resources to prevent the Walmart and surrounding areas from being targets of petty crime and theft.

Just look at the DeKalb crime mapping tool at the Tucker Walmart. Compare that to the Walmarts in the city of Chamblee and city of Dunwoody. I'd also suggest contacting those PD's to discuss the added stress of patrolling a regional store like Walmart. The DeKalb Pd does an excellent job based upon the resources they are given...but what amount of resources are going to be directed in North Decatur? Not saying it isn't worth it to renovate to have Walmart, but I would just be wary of it being in DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

Wallmart. Bleh. Who actually shops there? I've only been in one (Howell Mill Road & 1-75) and it was full of Kountry Krap I can't imagine anyone in Buckhead or Midtown wanting to buy. I know times is hard for property managers looking for leases, but come on. Ewww.

John P said...

Screw Wal-Mart, what is that about Cozy Burger Town?!?!?
Don't bury the lead dude, what's the story about them changing hands and being rebranded?

Atlantan99 said...

Hey John,

FINALLY, someone realizes the REAL loss! It was mentioned during the meeting yesterday at the church that the CBT will be reconcepted and change hands. My guess ( though not verified) is that Selig is planning to tear down the building for a new restaurant tenant. I'm sure you've tried it but Farm Burger does it for me :)

Thanks for reading the blog and for the comment.

Atlantan99 said...

@ Anon Re: Cub Foods,

Thanks for the info on the center. I hope they do something soon as it currently looks as though a bomb tore through the Cub Foods space. Perhaps when Last Chance gets the boot at Suburban, they can find ample room in the this center...

Anonymous said...

Why is it that so many people absolutely HATE Walmart, but have no problem with - or even welcome - Target? Is it because the stores are really that different, or does it have more to do with the customers each attracts?

Anonymous said...

First - we don't think we need another Walmart in the Decatur area.
Also for me I never shop at Walmart due to their history of poor treatment of their employees, very low wages and history of forcing out small local stores. They sometimes offer low prices but at a very large cost to the local community. I currently shop at both Big Lots and Last Chance Thrift so I don't consider myself a snob.So I am one of those shoppers!! I've also lived in the neighbor hood for over 20 yrs so I know the area very well. Walmart is not what our neighborhood is all about!I wish there was a better answer to the re-development.

Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised PetSmart is coming in, as I'm skeptical whether the close-by Pet Supermarket will re-open after their recent closing to "remodel." An employee at the Toco Hills Pet Supermarket told me they closed to deal with a massive rat infestation. Makes sense, I guess, in an old structure like that with a food source. That next Saturday morning, driving next to Melton's, I saw guys in their white coveralls and facemasks at work behind the building (presumably fumagating). Anyway, the Pet Supermarket is still closed, and I haven't eaten at Melton's since.

Anonymous said...

GROSS!! I bet the r*ts just heard about all the lbs and lbs of pet food sold at the Pet Supermarket, and wanted to check it out, prob nothing to do with Meltons, but surely, they were affected.

Kermit Ellsworth said...

I shop at Walmart all the time, and will prob shop at the new one. Am happy that something is coming in there.
My problem is that the building they're planning is too BIG for the space that's available at Suburban Plaza. The whole re-do is going to negatively affect residents (like me) who live on bordering streets (noise and crime?), and make traffic there even more of a nightmare than it already is.

Anonymous said...

Please don't take my Hancock Fabrics away! It's really hard to find a fabric store inside I-285 these days. I've been trying to talk JoAnns into moving into the empty Boarder's Books on Ponce,
but without much luck.

We shop Hancock's, Big Lots, Mirage, Last Chance, Moe's, Picadilly and sometimes Decatur Estate, and we come from south of Avondale to do it. (Meaning we go past a Walmart on the way)

Yes, I'd rather see a Target go in, although I don't agree with some of their labor practises either), but I guess Walmart is willing to pay more for the privilege of moving in.

I would like to see the shopping center fixed up and revived. I just wish they could find new tenents who could be compatable with some of the businesses that are already there.