Thursday, January 29, 2015

Is a Whole Foods Market Coming to Chamblee? ...It Certainly Looks Like It!

A new Whole Foods Market is slated to anchor a new center in Chamblee

Artists rendering of the proposed Peachtree Crossing development (click image to enlarge)
A new 9+/- acre center called "Peachtree Crossing" is being proposed by Fairburn, Georgia-based S. J. Collins Enterprises.  The new center would be located on the former Oxford Chemical Corporation property (5001 Peachtree Boulevard), located between Peachtree Boulevard and Peachtree Road, at Johnson Ferry Road. Given the parcel's past use as a chemical plant (for nearly 50 years), this project has been in the works for a while as officials at various agencies work to confirm the successful remediation of the property. 

In addition to to the former Oxford plant, a number of adjacent parcels will also likely be part of the redevelopment. 
The current home of Ashe-Simpson Garden Center 
Ashe-Simpson Garden Center and a former Krystal are among those other buildings likely destined for demolition and inclusion in the project. A Hertz rental office (in a former Taco Bell) and a Texaco gas station are not currently included in the project, but sources say negotiations are underway to include those parcels in the redevelopment. 
The former Krystal and former Taco Bell in background 
According to a site plan of the property I've obtained, Peachtree Crossing will be anchored by a 45,000 square foot "Major Tenant A" in addition to a nearly 13,000 square foot adjacent junior anchor labeled "Major Tenant B".  Over 64,000 square feet of additional space is also listed including a roughly 4,000 square foot freestanding restaurant and a nearly 3,000 square foot bank.
Proposed Peachtree Crossing site plan (click image to enlarge)
I won't speculate as to what restaurants or banks might be interested in space in the proposed center. I do believe, however,  that the writing is on the wall that the "Major Anchor A." aka "National, Upscale Organic Grocer" is Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market.

S.J. Collins lists eleven shopping centers on their website which they've either developed or redeveloped.  Of those, seven were anchored by Whole Foods Market, one more by The Fresh Market, with the remaining three as yet unannounced. The firm's most recent Whole Foods Market-anchored center was the redevelopment of Washington Crossing in Augusta last summer.
An aerial shot of the proposed property (click image to enlarge)
With the nearly 45,000 square foot former Harris Teeter on Peachtree Road in Brookhaven Plaza still controlled by Kroger,  this new center would be be the second best option for a grocer such as Whole Foods to reach  Chamblee/Brookhaven, "Cham/Haven" consumers.  

Local civic leaders and real estate sources are all tight-lipped on details of the development.  After speaking with multiple real estate contacts, it became clear to me that the "major anchor" no one wanted to refer to by name was in fact, Whole Foods Market. 

Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb detailed the chain's plan to triple their store count "to 1,000 and boost sales by opening locations in underserved areas and smaller markets" in a 2012 Bloomberg article.  

The recently opened Whole Foods Market in Alpharetta at Avalon is 48,000 square feet, while the new Whole Foods slated for Kennesaw in 2016 will be "approximately 45,000 square feet."  Both of these locations, as well as their approximate sizes, would seem to be in line with the chain's growth goals and the size of the "major anchor" at Peachtree Crossing.  

Well placed sources indicate that while discussions are ongoing with the aforementioned "National, Upscale Organic Grocer," a lease is not yet signed.  Additionally, those same sources indicate that the project is very much dependent upon an executed lease with Whole Foods Market.  One source went as far as to say, "without Whole Foods, the project would be dead."  

Whole Foods, the industry leader in the "organic grocery" market, has seen increased competition in its segment as new players enter the market and existing players expand.  

Greensboro, North Carolina-based The Fresh Market plans to open a new store at Brighten Park (fya Loehmann's Plaza) in May.  Asheville, North Carolina-based Earth Fare opened their first metro Atlanta store earlier this month in Peachtree Corners, and will add another in Phase 2 of Emory Point later this spring.  Another Earth Fare is planned for Forsyth later this year. Last, but certainly not least, is Phoenix, Arizona-based Sprouts Farmers Market who entered the Atlanta market last year with a store in Snellville.  Since then, new stores have opened in Dunwoody, Norcross, Johns Creek and Cumming. Later this year, Sprouts stores are slated to open in Smyrna, Sandy Springs, Midtown and Roswell with other locations "in the works." 

The site plan indicates that in addition to the retail and restaurant components, a number of other "amenities" will also be part of Peachtree Crossing.  Several "Pocket Parks," a kids play area, public art area, pedestrian trail connection to the Chamblee Multi-Use Trail (a.k.a. Keswick Trail), and EV charging stations are all planned for the project.

I contacted Jeff DeHart ("Partner / Development") at S.J. Collins and was furnished the following response on January 15th:

"We are working on a prospective project in that area but have a long way to go.  We are in the very early stages of seeing if something is viable.  There are numerous hurdles including land entitlements that must be cleared."  

"There are no announcements to make at this point regarding potential anchor retailers because of the very early stage of the process.  We have seen keen interest from many retailers but need to complete our due diligence."

These comments seem innocent on their own, but when you consider an entire  marketing brochure, site plan, and demographic study are available online describing the property in seemingly precise detail, it looks further along.

If all goes according to plan, Peachtree Crossing is currently projected for completion "Spring 2016" with some already calling it the most exciting development to happen in Chamblee in decades.  

Chamblee's City Council changed the name of Peachtree Industrial Boulevard to Peachtree Boulevard in 2008 in an effort to rid the city of their "industrial" reputation. 

The city has welcomed a number of new projects over the past decade, most notably a Lowe's Home Improvement store and a Walmart Supercenter.  

Lowe's Home Improvement opened a new store on the site of a former 15 acre Frito-Lay plant in 2001.  A Discount Tire Co. was built in an outparcel of the center followed by a freestanding Zaxby's in an outparcel of the property years later.  

The Walmart-anchored Chamblee Village opened in 2006 and represented the redevelopment of a 13.5 acre former BellSouth facility.  The center is located at the corner of Chamblee-Tucker Road and Peachtree Boulevard and is also home to assorted smaller stores.

Last year, a number of new projects were announced in Chamblee that could be bring even more growth and opportunity.  
The Blee on Peachtree seemingly being used as storage for excess Audi vehicles 
The Blee on Broad Peachtree, a redevelopment of Chamblee Plaza, is slowly progressing, just north of Peachtree Crossing.  Once anchored by a Winn-Dixie, the center had more recently fallen on hard times.  Thus far, the only noticeable change is the addition of Adrenaline GX.  The workout facility was known as Adrenaline Fitness when in their previous home at Peachtree Boulevard & Malone Drive.  The Blee on Peachtree's developer, Trinity Development, has apparently run into some financing issues, causing development delays.  

Parkview on Peachtree is also in the works on Peachtree Boulevard in Chamblee.  The mixed use project would be built in place of the shuttered Great Gatsby's collectibles & antiques shop, about a block north of Peachtree Crossing. (Great Gatsby's relocated to a new space not far away at Peachtree Boulevard & Sexton Woods Drive.)

The Olmstead is a 283-unit apartment complex planned for the former International Farmers Market property at Chamblee-Tucker Road and Peachtree Boulevard. The property sits across the street from Chamblee Village and held a groundbreaking this past fall.  In addition to the residential component, there will reportedly be both retail and restaurant options at street level. 

Site of the former International Farmers Market where The Olmstead will be built 
A little further away, but worth mentioning, is Coro Realty Advisors' Brookleigh Market project on Johnson Ferry Road in Brookhaven.  The project already includes hundreds of apartments and was recently joined by a Primrose Schools early learning center.  A two-story Pure Taqueria, originally planned for the former gas station at the corner of Johnson Ferry Road and Peachtree Boulevard, is currently under construction.
The two-level Pure Taqueria under construction in the background  
Having grown up not far from Chamblee, it's great to see such interest in the area, especially from such a respected company as Whole Foods.  I'm hopeful that everything will fall into place and that Peachtree Crossing will come to fruition. 

The first of many planned public hearings on the proposal is set for February 12th at 6pm at the Chamblee Civic Center on Broad Street.  Developers plans to go in front of the City’s Architectural Review Board on February 3rd, then to the City Council on February 17th.

What are your thoughts?  

What additional shops or restaurants would you like to see open in Peachtree Crossing? Is there a different Chamblee area development you are more excited about?  Have you grown up nearby?  If so, what are your earliest memories of the area?  

Please share your thoughts below.  

The Chamblee Post contributed to this article. 


  1. Interesting that I posted this in a comment yesterday and you didn't publish it.

  2. Great news! I live in Brookhaven and this would be much easier than going to the Sandy Springs location (and the crazy traffic on Roswell Rd).

  3. Chamblee is going upscale. Hurray for the area! It is still Peachtree Industrial Blvd to me and my circa-2010 GPS, though.

  4. This location is great as it is truly "ChamHaven" since it is just a few blocks from the border of the two cities. I live in Brookhaven and agree with the previous comment that this will make Whole Foods much more convenient than going to Sandy Springs or Buckhead.

  5. Speaking of empty spaces...what is the status of the 45,000 square foot former Harris Teeter on Peachtree Road in Brookhaven? It has been standing empty for so long.

  6. Re: the Harris Teeter location, Eli notes that the space is still controlled by Kroger who is preventing any competition from entering the market. Regrettably the Brookhaven city leadership does not have the foresight or intestinal fortitude to pursue some creative zoning and force this issue (as many other cities around the country do).

  7. Excellent news and reporting.
    Would like to point out the
    Krystal / Taco Bell was most recently the legendary Paradise Café. This neighborhood shot / beer drinking establishment closed some years back and was frequented by locals and folks from the nearby airport.
    Thanks for bringing back the memories.

  8. That site plan looks like something that should be built in Cumming, not Chamblee. What is this, the 80s? Can we not expect/demand better connectivity between these nodes of development that doesn't fully rely on the automobile? Giant surface parking lots and non-connected suburban-style strip malls are not things to be excited about even if they are anchored by Whole Foods.

    Yes new development is better than dilapidated industrial sites and boarded up fast food restaurants. But we have a chance to start changing the look and feel of Chamblee into the future. Why not start now with bold design that provides for but hides cars, promotes walking and biking, and is built to accommodate streetcars or bus rapid transit in the (hopefully near) future?

  9. It is sad when a Wal-Mart shopping center is more thoughtfully designed than a Whole Foods-anchored center. At least the Wal-Mart tried to hide their surface lot from street view.

    It's like they even realized in the rendering "oh shit, this looks like a big parking lot!" and drew in little farmers market-esque tents to make it look more lively.

    Pathetic. I'd gladly take the boarded up Taco Bell and Krystal for a little while longer if it meant we could get something in the future that is actually built for humans, not cars.

  10. Would also make it the easiest Whole Foods for folks in Dunwoody to get to, trying to get to the one in Sandy Springs in such a pain!

  11. How will Atlanta Discount Music be affected in this deal?

  12. @Anon RE: Atlanta Discount Music,

    As shown in the aerial shot of the property, the ADM building in addition to Sula's Dominican hair salon will close / relocate to make way for the new project.

    Thanks for comments and readership.

  13. Thanks, I'm sure George (the owner of ADM) is not happy with this..

  14. Best news of 2015!! I have been asking for years why there is not a whole foods/fresh market in the Chamblee/Brookhaven area!?! Our area could certainly sustain it!!

  15. Great news for Chamblee. At 45K sq ft will this be a "big" Whole Foods like the one in Johns Creek or smaller like the one on LaVista?

  16. The site plan is complete garbage. Other than that, good for Chamblee.

  17. The Johns Creek store is 48000sqft

    Connecting this to adjacent (future) developments and the midcity/keswick park residential area with sidewalks is critical.

  18. Got to make this walkable from all the new apartments and devlopments on the West Side of PT industrial.

  19. All the folks who are commenting about parking are planning on walking to the store? Then they are going to carry their groceries back home, right? And, the store is going to thrive without a parking lot because of the pedestrian traffic. Right?

  20. Oh this is a chicken and egg thing. Do we build for humanity or do we build for cars. If we build for humanity, will humanity respond? Building for cars is easy. Building for humanity takes foresight. Foresight that we generally lack in this city.

  21. I've never seen anybody on a bike on Peachtree Industrial. Get a clue! There is that bum with a shopping cart across the street from Capitol Nissan every day though. Walmart needed to hide parking because they're on a tiny piece of land Lowe's and Whole Foods do not have this problem.

    I'd definately like to see something done with the IHOP/CFA parcel. You'd think whole foods could have went into the old Winn Dixie years ago.

  22. Oh ok - so the larger the parking lot, the less need for hiding it? Yeah that makes sense. Are you the spawn of Fuqua? Please don't ever become a developer or urban planner.

    You've never seen anyone on a bike so therefore we should never start building anything that is more accommodating to bikes or pedestrians. This site is within walking distance to a MARTA station. There's no reason why this area could not become less automobile-oriented with each new development.

  23. Oh ok - so the larger the parking lot, the less need for hiding it? Yeah that makes sense. Are you the spawn of Fuqua? Please don't ever become a developer or urban planner.

    You've never seen anyone on a bike so therefore we should never start building anything that is more accommodating to bikes or pedestrians. This site is within walking distance to a MARTA station. There's no reason why this area could not become less automobile-oriented with each new development.

  24. It is nice to hear there is some actual development in Chamblee. I didn't realize the International Farmers Market had closed. The only concern is reading everything happening, is it too many projects so close together to sustain in the future ? Everything will be in the same few blocks. Any or all of these projects wpuld definitely some of the Chamblee landscape.

  25. I think they should just cancel the whole thing. Since no one wants it and everyone knows better how to build it. Empty fields and garbage are much better as well as old dumpy worn out buildings. You can easily walk there, no traffic to worry about. No more progress unless we can make cars illegal!!!

  26. I think there's already some kind of bike path that goes under PIB just south of Clairmont, no?? This should allow for the bikers to get to the stores via Peachtree Road.

    I like shopping at places with large, well visible parking lots. Makes it less likely my car will be tampered with.

    The property is a huge blight, so the development looks good to me--as long as Peachtree Road (used for our morning commute) stays fully open the entire time.


  27. This city is so mired in suburban mindset that it is hopeless.

  28. The City of Chamblee has long been on the front lines of urban redevelopment. The city received one of the first LCI grants from the ARC in 2001. The city has implemented codes and policies that are working to transform the area from an industrial based city to a transit oriented urban center. The trail that runs under Peachtree Boulevard and connects the MARTA station to a large park and well established neighborhoods is just one of the great examples of the forward thinking city officials.

  29. That's great about the city. If they are truly "on the front lines of urban redevelopment", they will reject this site plan and tell the developer that they can do better.

    For one thing, change the orientation of the shopping center such that it does not have its back to the trail.

    I seriously have not seen an ITP site plan this offensive since Fuqua's Glenwood project.

  30. Oh, please, give me a break! This will be a welcome addition to an area that is so underused. It will look better than it is now. As for a parking lot for cars...Peachtree Industrial is not conducive for a pedestrian area. No one is walking to Whole Foods to do their shopping. Let's face it, we all drive and need ample parking. Unfortunately, Atlanta (unlike NYC, Boston, name a few) is not set up as to be an urban environment. Until we get really good public transportation, we need parking lots with our retail.

  31. Give me a break! This site is walking distance from a MARTA station and already has an existing pedestrian trail and nearby residential. This area could EASILY be transitioned into a pedestrian-oriented area.

    There can still be parking. It just needs not to be the focal point of the development.

    You can't be set up to be an urban environment if you don't start somewhere. And creating walkable, connected nodes from our own existing (although woefully inadequate) rapid transportation system is a great place to start. I can't believe this is even a debate.

    1. I was able to visit the completed development a while back and yes, it's a bad design. The neighborhood is very walkable and MARTA is right there. This suburban style is gross and out of character...for Peachtree Rd which runs behind it. Peachtree BLVD, on the other hand, is hopeless. Just a mile north there are endless car dealerships. I would argue Wal-Mart did an excellent job keeping things tasteful and at human scale. The buffer created by the side of the building and the green space shields the urban character on Chamblee tucker and Peachtree Rd from the mess that is Peachtree BLVD. This whole foods development could have done something similar.

      The most ironic thing is that Peachtree BLVD becomes the famous Peachtree street further south. From Brookhaven northward, however, it's anything but glamorous.

  32. This area is NOT conducive to pedestrian traffic. The only thing north of this is car lots and I285. Pedestrian oriented design makes sense in urban areas, this is NOT.

  33. I'm glad that you people weren't in Buckhead back in the day as it wanted to urbanize. It'd probably still look like Duluth.

  34. Chamblee is not urban? On what planet do you live? It has one of the only rail transit stations in the entire southeast U.S. It is ITP. It is already one of the most densely populated areas in the metro. What do you think Peachtree road in buckhead looked like just 15 years ago? This site presents some significant challenges that are quite unique and whatever finally gets approved will have to take all of those challenges into consideration.

  35. Yeah the mentality of some of these comments are exactly what holds Atlanta back from smart growth and planning.

  36. We need a PGA Tour Superstore and a major liquor store close by. Kroger needs to give up the Brookhaven Plaza

  37. This area is not currently pedestrian friendly because there's little reason for people to walk/cross Peachtree Blvd. With this development, people can come to this store and picnic at Keswick park. Once residential gets built at Parkview (Gatsby site) and Olmsted (across from Walmart), there will be more walking along Peachtree Blvd., more reason to make pedestrian access a priority. Marta access is about a 10-minute walk, that option isn't for everyone, but should be maintained.

    Would be important to have the out parcels inviting and accessible walking directly from the street.

  38. Go to the Chamblee zoning/planning meetings, city council meetings and complain there.

    Better yet, form a local group, meet with the developer, city counilmen, the mayor. If they dont make changes, go to the media.

    There's a process to actually push for changes if you want them

  39. I live in this area and am confused by some of these comments. I'm also a human being who has lived on this planet for over 40 years. Are there really that many people that are wanting and willing to walk 1/4 to 1/2 mile or more to a grocery store and haul their groceries back home?

    I also think people use the phrase "within walking distance" far too liberally in most cases. Just because a person is physically able to walk a certain distance doesn't mean it makes sense or is practical to do so. Especially when shopping is the intended activity.

    I'm not an urban planner by any means but I think common sense and convenience shouldn't be thrown out just because 1 person out of 1000 wants to walk or pedal everywhere.

    Don't be fooled by people who tell you that most people in America just can't wait to ditch their cars. It's a lie and they know it.

  40. You can keep lying to yourself all you want. Study after study show that more and more millennials do not want a drivers license, let alone own a car. Chamblee is leading the way with requiring more pedestrian friendly developments. This is the area to watch as it develops into the hottest market in Atlanta! Over 40? Maybe you are too old to see the errors in your comments.