Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike is coming back to Buckhead.
Nike will open a two level store on the front of Lenox Square in a portion of the former Crate & Barrel. The 23,000+ square foot store will face Peachtree Road giving Nike plenty of frontage to promote their brand and merchandise. (A building permit filed with the city of Atlanta reflects a construction cost of $21,000,000 for 22,779 square feet of space which would mean the store is costing nearly $1000 per square foot, a figure that simply isn't plausible. My belief is that the entire construction bill for the front of the mall may be in the neighborhood of $21,000,000 with the Nike construction / buildout being a portion of that amount.)
Nike's NikeTown at Phipps Plaza closed in early 2009, having opened in 1993. The mall level space is now home to Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse, L.K. Bennett and VINCE.
A rather well kept secret of the mall is that the lower level of the former Niketown has for years now been functioning as a true "underground skatepark" known as "Da Playground." The facility is located on the lower portion of the mall, below the sales floor of the old Niketown. In the Niketown years, the space functioned not only as the store's stockroom but also as the southeast regional distribution center. Many skaters including Tony Hawk and celebrities such as Lil' Wayne have skated and filmed videos in the park, but few outside the mall know if its existence. Stevie Williams, a pro-skater, owns the park and apparently pays for much, if not all of of the rent, by selling ads on his website and videos he films in the park.
A source within Nike told me at the time of the store's closure at Phipps that it had not made a profit in nearly a decade.
Niketown's Phipps Plaza opening in 1993 was the fourth location for the brand. The store followed locations in Portland, Oregon, Chicago, Illinois and Costa Mesa, California. NikeTown Costa Mesa shuttered in 2005, while other locations in San Francisco and Chicago were closed for extensive remodeling and have since been renamed Nike SF (San Francisco) and Nike Chicago, respectively. NikeTown Portland, the company's flagship store, also closed, but later relocated and re-opened under the branding Nike Portland.
Nike's Lenox Square store has gone through a number of changes since the store opened in 2008 as a Nike Women store. (At the time of the Nike Women opening, I speculated that nearby NikeTown's days were numbered.) The women's store was later re-concepted as Nike and later Nike athletic, the later two carrying both men's and women's apparel, footwear and accessories.
I approached a couple of associates at the Lenox Square Nike store in January when I first started hearing talk of the possible opening at the front of the mall. Interestingly, neither employee said they had been told anything internally, but had learned from customers that there was to be a new Nike at the front of the mall.
It's unknown (to me) at this time what will become of the old Nike once the new store opens, presumably leading to closing the old.
Given that Nike's opening at Lenox Square is rather unexciting news that doesn't bring a new-to-the-market tenant to the mall like many had hoped, what more is coming to the mall, many might ask. Sadly, more of the same. Relocations, expansions and only a couple of new additions.
UGG Australia and Lacoste will open adjacent to an already relocated Bebe store. The stores will be side by side in main level portions of the former Crate & Barrel. Sources tell me that the new Lacoste store will be double the size of their current shoebox of a store across from Bloomingdales, also on the main mall level.
Karen Millen will relocate from the main level of the mall adjacent to J.Crew, to a space at the front of the mall, likely the old Bebe space, according to an inside source. J.Crew will expand its already highly successful store into the Karen Millen space, and in doing so will add either crewcuts, their kids line, and or their bridal collection.
A rumored P.F. Chang's will likely not be happening given that The Cheesecake Factory is likely opening in place of the shuttered Lenox Square Grill. While a restaurant is included in renderings of the new Lenox Square front in a portion of the former Crate & Barrel, it's likely that the restaurant would be on the casual / small side, given that there is a finite number of square feet that can be subdivided from C&B.
Earlier reports had both Apple and Urban Outfitters relocating to the front portion of the mall but it seems neither retailer will be moving after all. Apparently SIMON prefers for Apple to be in the middle of the mall and act as a magnet and may have convinced them to stay put by freeing up the Brookstone next to them, presumably so that they could further expand.
Personally, I'm rather unimpressed with the additions to Lenox which thus far are a relocation of Bebe, a relocation of Lacoste, a relocation of Karen Millen and a reopening of Nike(town). The two lone true additions to the mall are the UGG Australia store and Sprinkles Cupcakes, which will open in the former Wolf Camera. All of this repetition is on top of the fact that the mall is again attempting to become open air, lifestyle center like as it was when it opened in 1959.
Given OliverMcMillan is (finally) hard at work getting portions of Buckhead Atlanta complete, how do you think its progress will affect tenants considering entering the Buckhead market? Has Lenox lost its luster and have their attempts at a reinvention fallen short? Were you expecting stores like Topshop to be included in the list of new tenants at Lenox Sqaure?
Thoughts? Gripes? Opinions?