Monday, March 4, 2013

Is a New Nike Store a Victory for Lenox Square?

As many of you know, there are many sources for information similar to that which I offer, but none in Atlanta that can match my in-depth knowledge and inside sources. Rather than simply consult the city of Atlanta website and verbatim tell the public what's there, I go further and dig deeper to give you a true article. Before I get a single comment saying .. already read it.. hold your breath... cause this you have not read.

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?


mindspringyahoo said...

what, if anything, is in the old theater space at Lenox? I seem to recall the entrance to the theaters being near the food court.

Atlantan99 said...


The former United Artists Theaters adjacent to the food court is currently home to Herzing University. Herzing University is well, you know, that university that advertises during daytime TV when you find yourself watching Judge What's her face. The entrance to the university is from the outside, near the original Social Expressions.

Thanks for the question and for your continued readership.

Anonymous said...

Lenox hasn't lost its luster, it's simply the fact that the rest of Atlanta is catching up. Lenox & Phipps have been the "go to" shopping destinations for 40 years.

This simply isn't the case anymore. Midtown has heated up, and other areas of Buckhead are starting to heat up as America shifts from enclosed to open air retail options. Lenox is still the best mall in the Southeast definitely one of the top 3 malls on the East Coast.

Lenox & The Natick Collection are easily the best "big" upscale malls on the East Coast.

Phipps & Tysons Galleria are the best mid size upscale malls.

And Bal Habour & Americana Manhasset are the best open air shops.

I hate Prussia, The Mall of Georgia, Aventura or any other mall that you walk a lifetime in and still not get from one end to the other.

M said...

I'm not trying to rain on your exclusivity parade but I read about Nike store at Lenox on Fri in ATL Business Chronicle.

M said...

I'm not trying to rain on your exclusivity parade but I read about Nike at Lenox on Friday in the ATL Business Chronicle.

Nevertheless, good work and look forward to checking out the new store.

M said...

But that is awesome about skate park.. never,ever heard of that and i worked in mall for many years.. gotta check this out.

keep up the good work

Atlantan99 said...

Hi M,

Yes, that publication did publish a story about Nike, as did another blog in town. Both stories were basically identical and lacked the research, context and inside info that you find in my post. In other words, you read the CliffsNotes on Friday and in reading my post, you (now) have the full story.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and reading the site.

Atlantan99 said...

Hi M,

Yes, that is exactly what I'm saying. The skatepark, the UGG Australia, Lacoste and Karen Millen move as well as Sprinkles Cupcakes... all details not found in the ABC article... Sometimes first is not best.

Thanks for the props on the blog.

Anonymous said...

Just the fact that the skatepark is called "Da Playground" instead of "The Playground" is reason enough never to visit.

Atlantan99 said...


I understand what you're saying but the skatepark is a private facility, not open to the public. When you have the money to create your own skatepark, I guess that affords you the ability to name ignore proper grammar.

Thanks for reading the site and for the comments.

Anonymous said...

I believe Simon is trying to keep Lenox from overlapping with Phipps Plaza and Buckhead Atlanta. Regardless of the addition of Buckhead Atlanta, Lenox Square will continue to prosper. Though Phipps Plaza caters to the exacts same demographic that Buckhead Atlanta does, it has the advantaged of being anchored by Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue, both of which are apparently some of the top grossing stores of their respective companies. In essence, this will only strengthen a sense of healthcare competition between the three shopping centers.

So I believe this is a good idea on Simon's part.

Anonymous said...

WHen I read the story I thought $21 million was a bit steep for a 22,000 sf store inside a mall. I applaud your effort to dig a little deeper.

Anonymous said...

Don't live there anymore, what happened to Crate and Barrel?

Atlantan99 said...

Hi Anon,

Both Crate & Barrel and Restoration Hardware have left the mall. Crate & Barrel relocated to the Shops Around Lenox to the former Tower Records space while Restoration Hardware plans to open a six story flagship location in place of the shuttered ESPN Zone on Peachtree.

Both stories can be found on the site on the left by searching by keyword.

Thanks for your questions and for your readership.

Anonymous said...

Hi, do you by any chance know who did the design work on the new Nike store?

Atlantan99 said...

@Anon RE: Design,

Sadly I don't. The store does not seem overly artistic or amazing so I'm not so sure it was in fact designed by someone. It looks to me like a bunch of retail retail gurus and sports enthusiasts planned the layout and aesthetic.

Thanks for the question and for your readership.