|Crate & Barrel's current two-level store at Lenox Square|
but the day has finally come. Crate & Barrel will close their Lenox Square store this Sunday, March 4th and re-open at the Shops Around Lenox Thursday March 29th.
Though neither Simon nor its local PR agency would confirm anything, well placed sources tell me that Apple and Urban Outfitters each feel the need to expand given their success, and each would like space in the front of Lenox Square. According to Lenox Square, the current Crate & Barrel space is 35,000 square feet and the current Apple is 8,100 square foot and current Urban Outfitters is 12,643, this would seem to mean both Apple and Urban's could expand significantly, sharing the C&B space.
Without divulging actual sales figures, I'm told the Lenox Square location of Urban Outfitters generates nearly $10 million in revenue annually, and ranks among the top ten best performing locations in the chain. Apple, which as a retailer boasts some of the highest sales per square foot of any retail operation in the world, reportedly generates over $100 million in revenue, due in part to their successful business unit within the store.
The first Apple store opened in Glendale, California in 2001. Apple opened on the upper level of Lenox Square in 2002 and expanded a few years ago to the current 8,100 square foot store. I'm told the expansion provided more floor space at the cost of stockroom space. This move led the electronics giant to get creative in stocking merchandise and in turn led them to utilize multiple smaller stock rooms in locations around the mall.
Last spring, Microsoft opened a 7,900 square foot museum... I mean arcade... I mean store... on the first level of the mall, taking up much of the former Mark Shale space. The Microsoft store resembles the Apple store in many ways, the one glaring difference is that it's often empty except for freeloaders using the computers to surf the internet or play music videos.
Additional Apple locations followed at Perimeter Mall in Dunwoody, North Point Mall in Alpharetta and Mall of Georgia in Buford. There has been talk for years, but no official confirmation, that Apple was considering a midtown location along the Midtown Mile. Another midtown option would be to open in the upcoming Ponce City Market, on Ponce de Leon Avenue.
I have also heard that Apple hoped to open another, secondary Buckhead location within Buckhead Atlanta (the project formerly known as The Streets of Buckhead. ) The issue with this plan is that Simon requires many of its key retailers, Apple included, to have no other retail presence within a given radius around the mall. This clause would prevent Apple from having both a Lenox Square store and a Buckhead Atlanta outpost. The likely outcome is that Apple relocates to the front of the mall, and takes on a significant portion of the Crate & Barrel space, possibly as much as 16,000 square feet, doubling their current size and creating a regional flagship.
Urban Outfitters could open in the balance of the Crate & Barrel space, giving them as much as 19,000 square feet, roughly a 35% increase over their current space in the rear of the mall. Urban Outfitters entered the Atlanta market in 2002 when they opened at Lenox Square. Since then, the hipster retailer has grown their metro presence with the additions of locations in Midtown on Ponce de Leon in space formerly home to the famous Plaza Drugs (14,000 s/f) and in Dunwoody in the front of Perimeter Mall in the former Z Gallerie space (10,000 s/f).
If and when Urban Outfitters relocates, their current space would be a large vacancy in an increasingly popular area of the mall, now home to a large Forever 21 store as well as an Adidas Originals store and Penguin boutique. The thought that H&M or Mango might open in the mall has been floated for years, but this location seems doubtful for either, as it's so close to the aforementioned Forever 21.
Urban Outfitters also owns the Free People and Anthropologie lines. Anthropologie has three locations in Atlanta; in Lenox, Perimeter and on Howell Mill at the Westside Urban Market. Free People opened their first Atlanta location last year at Lenox Square and will open a second store March 23rd on the westside in White Provision.
Lenox Square, which opened in 1959 as an open air mall, is in the midst of a significant exterior facelift. The most recent renovation / expansion was an interior renovation and expansion in 2007 with the expansion of Neiman Marcus and the addition of the second floor luxury wing. The second floor luxury wing included a relocated and expanded two-level Ralph Lauren store, a Diesel boutique and a short lived Calvin Klein white label store, among other stores.
The landmark mall once included such attractions as a United Artists movie theater, an Eckerd drugs, Colonial grocery store and even a McDonald's. For that matter, the Crate & Barrel's second floor was previously a Houlihan's restaurant. As of this morning, the porte cochere, the large overhang in the front of the mall has all but been completely removed and will soon be replaced with more glass elements. The goal of the current renovation is to better compete with newer lifestyle centers and fend off would-be competition from Buckhead Atlanta, which is surely courting retailers from Simon's Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza. Additional square footage is being added in the front of the mall in addition to making it more pedestrian friendly.
Competition between Simon and its two malls (Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza) and Buckhead Atlanta has been fierce for years, even without the new Buckhead project open. Hermes, a longstanding Lenox Luxury Wing retailer, vacated their space in 2007 and relocated to what was at the time meant to be a temporary space on Buckhead Avenue. As we all know, the project was delayed and has now changed hands and been renamed and Hermes remains in their temporary space. I'm told they do very well, given their customers are able to park at the door, be greeted on arrival and get in and out with ease.
While Buckhead Atlanta has managed to keep Hermes in place while it gets its ducks in a row, Bottega Veneta, a division of PPR, originally announced to be opening in the project in 2007 has since abandoned those plans. Instead, Bottega opened in the Saks Fifth Avenue wing of Phipps Plaza last year. Art Smith was listed on the Streets of Buckhead website to be opening a concept within the project but opted to open Southern Art in the InterContinental Hotel instead. The restaurant has been panned by locals and critics alike though publicly Smith says the restaurant has been a success. Perhaps he should have waited patiently for the Buckhead Atlanta project to come to fruition.
In terms of food, Lenox Square Grill, a casual concept from Atlanta-based CentrArchy Restaurant Group which opened in 2009, may be on its way out. I'm told Lenox Square has brought in an outside consultant to advise on the mall's dining options and it's likely Lenox Square Grill will be replaced as a part of the mall's renovations. One possibility is a Grand Luxe Cafe, a higher end concept from The Cheesecake Factory, which expressed interest in the space back in 2009, but curtailed its growth and never got serious. Another possibility is P.F. Chang, a restaurant with zero presence ITP, that could potentially do very well in the mall. Lenox Square Grill did minimal cosmetic work to the restaurant when it opened in place of the 12,500 square foot Clubhouse, but did overhaul the kitchen, representing a significant capital investment.
Many of the possible square footage examples I mention are purely speculative but come to from extensive research and retail contacts. No definite timetable or tenant list is available at this time, but expect to hear something official from the powers that be in the coming weeks.
What do you think of the expansion and renovation plans at Lenox Square? What would you like to see open in the front of the mall? Do you think both Apple and Urban Outfitters will open in the former Crate & Barrel or will we see one create a larger-than-life superstore? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.